Traveling While On a Stanford-Sponsored Visa
Traveling as a Stanford-sponsored international student, scholar, or employee requires planning and an understanding of requirements to avoid situations that could result in negative consequences to your immigration status. The following information can help you stay compliant and prepared.
Generally, there are two common types of travel for international students, scholars, and employees:
Make sure you have all the required documents in your carry-on baggage and that they are not packed in your checked luggage.
Entering the U.S. from Another Country
Before you come to the U.S., 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).
All Visa Types
Regardless of your visa type (i.e., F, J, H, or O) you need these documents to enter or re-enter the United States:
- Your valid passport — Your passport must be valid for at least six months past the end date of your program unless your home country has a passport agreement with the U.S.
- Your valid visa stamp (not required for Canadian citizens) — Your visa must be a valid U.S. visa unless you are a Canadian citizen. If your visa has expired and you plan to travel abroad, you must go to a U.S. consulate or embassy to apply for a new visa before returning to the U.S. You cannot renew your visa within the U.S. If your visa is in your expired passport, carry both your old passport and new passport to re-enter the U.S. Review Applying for a Visa for instructions on renewing your visa.
IMPORTANT: Depending on your visa type, you may need additional documents too. See the information below related to your visa type.
Additional Documentation for Specific Visa Types
Automatic Visa Revalidation: Travel to Canada, Mexico, and Adjacent Islands without a Valid Visa Stamp
If you are maintaining lawful nonimmigrant status in the U.S., you do not require a valid visa stamp to re-enter the U.S. after a visit of fewer than 30 days to a “contiguous territory” (Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands) even if your visa stamp has expired. You can re-enter the U.S. with a copy of your electronic I-94 card, a valid passport, a current I-20 or DS-2019 (with a valid travel signature), and a previously issued visa stamp.
IMPORTANT: Nationals of Iran, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria are not eligible for automatic revalidation of an expired visa.
After Returning to the U.S.
IMPORTANT: Print your Arrival/Departure Record (I-94) as soon as possible after entry and confirm that all the information is accurate.
Your Arrival/Departure Record (I-94) is issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) whenever you enter the U.S. This record confirms that you have been legally admitted to the U.S. in a specific visa status and for a duration of time. Note that for F and J visa holders, the amount of time you may remain in the U.S. is specified by the notation “D/S,” indicating that you can be in the U.S. for the Duration of Status of your student or scholar program.
If you arrive by air, the CBP confirms your immigration status by swiping your passport. If you arrive by land, you may be issued a paper I-94 record.