Traveling as an international student or scholar requires planning and an understanding of requirements to avoid situations that could result in negative and long-lasting consequences to your immigration status. The following information can help you stay compliant and prepared.
International students, scholars, and employees should consider the two common types of travel associated with using your visa in the United States:
Read the following sections as the information will likely apply to any travel you do while enrolled in your Stanford program.
Entering the U.S. from Another Country
Before you come to the U.S., — whether initially for the first time in your status or returning after time abroad — make sure you have your documents in order. The list of documents you need depends on your visa status or benefits related to that visa status you are using (e.g., Optional Practical Training, Academic Training).
See Traveling While on a Stanford-Sponsored Visa for specific documentation requirements.
Travel Within the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations require that you have your valid passport with you at all times. Traveling with your original I-20/DS-2019/I-797 and I-94 record is also suggested. Although this may not always be practical, we encourage you to have these documents with you whenever you travel off-campus, especially for air travel.
Traveling While on a Stanford-Sponsored Visa
Stay compliant and avoid risks to your immigration status by planning for the documentation you’ll need when traveling as a Stanford-sponsored international student, scholar, or employee.
Important Things to Keep in Mind
- Re-entering the U.S. — You must re-enter the U.S. on the same visa status you were using prior to your departure if you intend to maintain that status. Entering the U.S. on a different visa status forfeits your current visa status and cancels any employment benefits associated with the prior status. For example, if you are an F-1 student and wish to remain in F-1 status, you cannot enter the U.S. — during the entirety of your program — in any other status (e.g., B-1/B-2)
- Required travel signatures
- F-1 students and J-1 students/scholars need to obtain a travel signature after arriving in the U.S., in order to be able to re-enter the U.S. after traveling abroad. The travel signature cannot be more than one year old at the time of re-entry. F-1 students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) need to have a signature no older than six months to return to the U.S.
- H-1B and O-1 employees do not need travel signatures.
- TN visa holders need to present a copy of their previous electronic I-94 record.
- Traveling to another country — Check the entry requirements for that country. You may be required to have an entry visa to enter these countries. Contact their embassy or consulate in the U.S. to check if you need a visa. Allow enough time before your travel for visa processing.