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Traveling as an International Student or Scholar

As an international student or scholar, you must follow certain guidelines when traveling. F-1 visa or J-1 visa holders must carry your status-related documents at all times. Present your current documents at the US port-of-entry after temporary international travel.

International Travel

What documents do I need to enter or re-enter the U.S. after traveling internationally?

Students on NATO orders must carry their orders with them when traveling.

F-1 Students must have the following:

  • Current passport (valid up to six months or more after reentry date)
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in the passport
  • Current travel signature on page 2 of the Form I-20 (obtained from the CGE);
    • Signature is valid for one year.
Note: Students on OPT should be aware that the travel signature on page 2 of the I-20 is valid for only 6 months from the date that it is signed

J-1 Students/scholars must have the following:

  • Current passport (valid up to six months or more after reentry date)
  • Valid J-1 visa stamp in the passport
  • Current travel signature on the page 1 of the DS-2019 (obtained from the CGE or from the program sponsor, if not UNG);
    • Signature is valid for one year

Additional Items that are Recommended

Although not actually required by regulation, we also recommend that all international students take the following items:

  • Verification of enrollment (Enrollment Certificate from BANNER)
  • Proof of financial support less than six months old, such as a bank statement or letter of financial support from department
  • Copy of transcript or academic enrollment history from BANNER

Graduate students: Letter from academic department verifying program start date, good standing, expected program completion and brief description of the nature of your research.

I am currently on F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) or J-1 Academic Training. Do I need additional documents when traveling?

Students who have completed their program and have received employment authorization for Optional Practical Training or Academic Training purposes should also bring:

  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card (F-1 students only)
  • Academic Training Authorization Letter (J-1 students only)
  • Job offer letter or proof of employment

Note: Students on OPT should be aware that the travel signature on page 2 of the I-20 is valid for only 6 months from the date that it is signed

How do I get a travel signature on my I-20 or DS-2019?

Dahlonega campus: You can leave off your document for signature at the Center for Global Engagement, 104 Price Memorial, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Friday. The document will be ready for pick up the next business day.

Gainesville campus: You can leave off your document for signature at the Center for Global Engagement, 175 Strickland, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Friday. The document will be ready for pick up the next business day.

Other campuses:  Contact the Center for Global Engagement at global@ung.edu to arrange an appointment.

My visa is expired. What should I do?

Your visa does not have to be valid to remain in the U.S. because it is used for entry to the U.S. only. You must have a valid visa if you travel internationally and wish to re-enter the U.S. If you need to renew your visa, you should visit the U.S. Embassy/Consulate website for your home country.

Remember, you can legally remain in the U.S. with an expired visa. You do not need to travel abroad only to renew your visa. You only need to renew a visa when you plan to travel internationally and re-enter the U.S. We do not recommend that you travel for the sole purpose of renewing a visa, as it can be expensive, risky, and is unnecessary, unless you are already traveling for other purposes. No student is ever guaranteed a visa renewal.

My passport expires within the next six months. Do I need to renew it if I do not plan to travel?

Yes. Your passport must remain valid at all times during your stay in the U.S. Processing a passport renewal can take several months, so you should work to ensure that you receive a new passport before your old one expires.

What is an I-94?

The I-94 records your travel history to and from the US. It is an additional proof of your status and you can download your I-94 at this Department of Homeland Security I-94 page.

Domestic Travel

You should always carry your I-20/DS-2019 and passport with you as proof of your status if you decide to take a trip and are traveling around the U.S. For everyday living, your valid passport can be used as a form of identification if you do not have a Georgia driver's license.

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