Sunday, May 4, 2008

Travel Checklist -- This check list is designed for international students in F or J status who are traveling within the United States or abroad.

Travel Checklist -- This check list is designed for international students in F or J status who are traveling within the United States or abroad.

___SEVIS I-20 OR DS-2019
Check the travel signature on your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019. You must have your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 with you when you travel, even for travel within the United States. Be sure that your current I-20 or DS-2019 has an authorizing signature for travel that will be less than one year old from the date you will return to Albany. If your travel plans include a trip to Canada, the signature must be less than six months old from the date you will return to Albany. Note: You should travel using your most recently issued I-20 or DS-2019. However, be sure to save all of your previously issued I-20s or DS-2019s, as they represent immigration “history” in the United States.

Check the expiration date of your passport. You must have your passport with you for all travel, including travel within the United States. If traveling abroad, your passport MUST be valid at least six months into the future upon your return to the United States. Passports may be renewed at your country's embassy or consulate in the United States. If you have access to the world wide web, you can obtain up-to-date information on passport renewal. Point your web browser to:

___U.S. VISA
Check your U.S. visa stamp inside your passport. Has your visa stamp expired? If it is still valid, is it for multiple entry, or has the entry been used up? Finally, is the category for which the visa was issued the status you currently hold (for example, if your visa is F-2, are you currently in F-2 status or did that status change after you entered the United States). An expired U.S. visa need only be renewed if you will be traveling outside the United States. The exception is travel to Canada or Mexico or adjacent islands of North America (except Cuba). Provided that your travel to those countries is for less than thirty days and you are not applying for a U.S. visa there, you may return to the United States on an expired F or J visa. There is a special rule for citizens of Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea, or Cuba currently in the United States. Such individuals can only enter Canada or Mexico and return to the United States IF they have an unexpired multiple-entry U.S. visa in the passport for their current status.

Check your travel itinerary. If you are traveling to a country that is not your country of citizenship, find out if you need an entry visa to visit that country. The following web link will take you to a listing of all foreign embassies in the United States and their individual web sites: From there, you can link to visa information for any country you may visit. If you are “transiting” into that country, meaning that your flight home requires an intermediate stop in a third country, find out if a transit visa is required, and if so, if it needs to be obtained in advance. This is most common for students with flights stopping in the United Kingdom. For information on the requirements for “Visitor in Transit” visas in the UK, visit the following web link:

You must have your white, I-94 card with you for all travel, even travel within the United States. You will need to surrender your I-94 card if you are departing from the United States. You will be issued a new I-94 card upon your re-entry to the United States with a new admission number. However, your SEVIS ID number (printed at the top right of your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019) will not change. SPECIAL NOTE: F-1 and J-1 students with expired U.S. visas who are traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands of North America (other than Cuba) for up to 30 days, are not applying for a new U.S. visa, AND who will be resuming their studies upon their return should NEVER surrender their I-94 card. Canadian or Mexican nationals returning to their home country should surrender their I-94 card as they enter their country, and obtain a new I-94 card the next time they enter the United States. Canadian nationals should be sure to carry with them their financial documentation that verifies the information on their I-20 when getting ready to return to the United States.

Have you picked up your health insurance ID card? Unless you are a graduate student with funding, you have health insurance through the SUNY international student health insurance program. Your current policy is valid through August 14, 2008. You will need your ID card if you need to visit a health care provider for an illness or accident, either locally or away. Be sure to come to the ISSS to pick up your health insurance ID card if you have not yet done so.

If you have completed your studies and have applied for Practical Training, you may travel outside the United States while the OPT application is pending, provided that you can present the USCIS Processing Center Receipt, proving that the OPT application has been filed, as well as the SEVIS I-20 endorsed for optional practical training. The signature on page 3 of the OPT I-20 must be less than six months old. However, once the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) for OPT is issued to you, and you decide to travel abroad, you can only re-enter the United States to resume employment. Thus, you must carry with you written documentation from the employer verifying your employment or job offer, as well as the EAD card. DHS has clarified that the F-1 student does not need to have begun actual employment before leaving, as long as the student has a job offer to which to return.

If you were required to go through the NSEERS special registration process either at a U.S. port of entry or as part of a “call-in” registration at a district USCIS office, because you are male and from one of the 25 designated countries, or a citizen of either gender from Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Sudan or Syria there is a special exit procedure that you must follow before you can depart the United States, at the airport where your overseas flight will depart.. Failure to do so can result in your being permanently barred from entering the United States. For a description of the requirement, and a list of designated exit ports and specific information on their locations and hours of operation, go to:


Sometimes, a student carries a large amount of money into or out of the United States. Please remember that it is a federal law that anyone carrying more than $10,000 in a monetary instrument of any form must declare that money, or risk having it seized by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials. Here is the explanation of the law:

"There is no limit on the total amount of monetary instruments that may be brought into or taken out of the United States, nor is it illegal to do so. However, if you transport or cause to be transported (including by mail or other means) more than $10,000 in negotiable monetary instruments on any occasion into or out of the United States or if you receive more than $10,000, you must file a Report of International Transportation of International Currency or Monetary Instruments (FinCen105) with U.S. Customs and Border Protection denoted in the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, 31 U.S.C. 1101, et. seq. Failure to comply can result in civil and criminal penalties, including seizure of the currency or monetary instruments. Monetary instruments include U.S. or foreign coin, currency, travelers' checks, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form."

In past years, there have been students carrying large sums of money whose funds have been seized for failure to declare. Do not let this happen to you.

Came to me as an email from ISSS, SUNY ALBANY.

1 comment:

Thanks for the comment.
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