These guidelines are relevant if you plan to return to the U.S. after traveling.  When traveling from the U.S. you will need:  

  • A valid passport
    If your passport has expired while in the U.S., the country you are visiting may turn you away. To extend your passport while in the U.S., contact your embassy or consulate.
  • Visas for countries to be visited 
    Countries you are going to visit may have visa requirements. In some cases, you may need a visa for countries in which you stop over to change planes. To avoid any hardship, check to see if you need visas well in advance of your travel date. For information, we recommend calling the embassies or consulates of the countries you are visiting. A list of embassies and contact information can be found at http://www.embassy.org/embassies/

Documents needed when re-entering the U.S.:

If your visa type is: You will need the following documents to re-enter the U.S.:

F-1 STUDENT
  • Current passport valid for at least 6 months after the reentry date
  • Valid F-1 visa
  • Valid I-20 with valid travel signature on page 3 (travel signatures valid for 1 year, travel signatures while on OPT valid for 6 months)
  • Proof of financial support
  • Evidence of attendance at UCSB, such as an acceptance letter, transcript, or recent tuition payment receipt
  • Proof of paying the I-901 SEVIS fee (which you can print from https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/index.html)

Students on post-completion OPT must also carry:

  • Valid EAD card
  • Job offer/verification Letter from your employer

J-1 STUDENT
  1. Current passport valid for at least 6 months after the reentry date
  2. Valid J-1 Visa (students who have transferred sponsorship to UCSB must apply for a new visa using the DS-2019 issued by UCSB.)
  3. Valid DS-2019 with signature on page 1 (travel signatures valid for 1 year)
  4. Proof of financial support
  5. Evidence of attendance at UCSB, such as an acceptance letter, transcript, or recent tuition payment receipt
  6. Proof of paying the I-901 SEVIS fee (which you can print from https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/index.html)

Students on post-completion Academic Training must also carry:

  • Employment Authorization letter from OISS
  • Job offer/verification Letter from your employer

J-1 SCHOLAR

  • Current passport valid for at least 6 months after the reentry date
  • Valid J-1 visa
  • Valid DS-2019 with signature on page 1 (travel signatures valid for 6 months)
  • Proof of financial support
  • Evidence of program participation at UCSB, such as a verification letter from your department or recent pay stub
  • Proof of paying the I-901 SEVIS fee (which you can print from https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/index.html

H1-B SCHOLAR

  • Current passport valid for at least 6 months after the reentry date
  • Valid H-1B visa
  • Valid I-797 Approval Notice
  • Proof of financial support
  • Employment verification letter from UCSB Department

TN SCHOLAR

 
  • Current passport valid for at least 6 months after the reentry date
  • Valid TN visa (for Mexican citizens only)
  • Valid I-797 Approval Notice
  • Proof of financial support
  • Employment verification letter from UCSB Department

E-3 SCHOLAR

  • Current passport valid for at least 6 months after the reentry date
  • Valid E-3 visa
  • Valid I-797 Approval Notice
  • Proof of financial support
  • Employment verification letter from UCSB Department

Travel with Dependent Family Members

Dependents (spouse or children) should travel with their own passport, U.S. visa, and immigration documents (see above), as well as copies of the primary visa holder’s documents, as proof of their legal non-immigrant status in the U.S.

Canadian Citizens:

Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S. However, Canadian citizens MUST have their passport and I-20 Form (or DS-2019) with them at the point of entry in order to receive the I-94 form with the proper visa category marked on it. Without a proper I-94 form you cannot be compensated by UCSB for your work or enroll as a student.

Travel to Mexico

You may need a visa to enter Mexico, depending on your nationality.  If you do need a visa to visit Mexico, check well in advance with the Mexican Consulate and ask them as to what documents you will need to present to them in order to obtain a visa and the processing time involved.  Requirements for a Mexican visa depend on your nationality.

Consulate General of Mexico                    
3151 West Fifth Street  E-100
Oxnard, CA 93030
Phone:  (805) 984-8738
Fax: (805) 984-8747
Web: http://consulmex.sre.gob.mx/oxnard/      

Travel to Canada

You may need a visa to enter Canada, depending on your nationality.  If you do need a visa to visit Canada, check well in advance with the Canadian Consulate and ask them as to what documents you will need to present to them in order to obtain a visa and the processing time involved.  Requirements for a Canadian visa depend on your nationality.

Consulate General of Canada
550 South Hope Street, 9th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90071-2617
Phone:  (213) 346-2700
Fax:  (213) 346-2767
Email: lngls@international.gc.ca
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Web:  https://www.international.gc.ca/country-pays/us-eu/los_angeles.aspx?lang=eng

Automatic Re-validation

Re-entering the U.S. from Mexico or Canada

You will need to have a valid I-94 card, valid passport and an I-20 or DS-2019 with an up-to-date Travel Validation Signature in order to re-enter the U.S. from Mexico or Canada.  You do not need a valid visa to re-enter the U.S. from Mexico or Canada if your trip is for 30 days or less EXCEPT as noted below:

  • If you apply for a new visa while in Mexico or Canada, you may not re-enter the U.S. on an expired visa.  You will need to remain in Mexico or Canada until your new visa is issued.  If a new visa is not issued to you in Mexico or Canada, then you will have to travel to your home country and apply for a new visa there.
  • If you are a citizen of Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria or Sudan, you may not re-enter the U.S. from Mexico or Canada on an expired U.S. visa.Generally the U.S. consulates in Mexico and Canada will not permit you to apply for a visa.Rather you may need to apply for a new visa in your home country.

Secondary Inspection and Form I-515A

When you are re-entering the U.S., you may be directed to a secondary inspection site at the U.S. port of entry if the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office cannot verify your information or if you are missing required document at the primary inspection site. It will be at the sole discretion of the CBP officer whether your current non-immigrant documents are sufficient for U.S. admission.

The CBP officer will attempt to verify your non-immigrant status using SEVIS and other databases. We encourage you to keep the contact information of your OISS student or scholar advisor, as well as a contact person in your UCSB department, on hand.

If you are allowed entry, you may be issued a Form I-515A. This process admits you ONLY for a period of 30 days (see I-94 admission record), within which time you must complete the instructions for the form I-515A by reporting to OISS. We will issue a replacement document for I-515A purposes. The I-515A must be sent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for review and approval in order for you to be granted the full permission of stay, as reflected on your nonimmigrant documents (i.e., I-20 or DS-2019). For more information on the Form I-515A, please visit http://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/515a.

I-94 Admission Record

Following your return to the U.S., you should print your new I-94 admission record from http://cbp.gov/i94. Please review your I-94 to make sure you were admitted in the correct non-immigrant visa status and granted the full period of stay (see “Admit Until Date”). 


If you plan to travel outside the United States after your program completion date, you cannot re-enter on your student visa (F-1 or J-1). If you would like to re-enter the United States after your program completion date, you will need to apply for a visitor visa.

Be sure to plan ahead when making international travel and re-entry arrangements after you finish your program of study. If you plan on re-entering the U.S. after short-term travel abroad following the completion of your program, DO NOT book tickets until you have:

  • Checked the last day of your program of study or employment
  • Spoken to an international student/scholar advisor about your plans
  • Verified that you have the correct visa to re-enter the United States

What is Travel Validation?

Your Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, depending on your visa status) shows that you are in eligible to enter the U.S. as part of a UCSB program. U.S. Immigration officials will ask for your I-20 or DS-2019 whenever you enter the U.S.
So, if you travel out of the country for a vacation or a conference, you will be required to show your 1-20 or DS-2019 as you re-enter the U.S..
The good news is that you do not need to get a new document each time you enter the U.SHowever, you must have your existing document validated by OISS. Once your document is validated, the validation is good for 1 year (for currently enrolled F-1 students) or 6 months (J-1 students or F-1 on OPT).

How Travel Validation Works

At least 2 business days before you plan to travel, drop off your I-20 or DS-2019 to the OISS office (3rd floor of the Student Resource Building). OISS staff will check your immigration record and confirm that you are still eligible to enter the U.S. You will be able to pick up your signed and validated document at the front desk after 2 business days. Easy!

Expired Visa?

If your F-1 or J-1 visa stamp has expired, you will need to obtain a new visa to reenter the US. You can apply for a visa stamp at an American Embassy/Consulate when you are abroad. A U.S. visa stamp cannot be obtained inside the U.S. To apply for a visa stamp you will need to present:

  1. Valid Passport
  2. Valid I-20 or DS-2019, with current signature on the back
  3. Documentation of sufficient financial support for at least one year
  4. Copy of current transcripts—an unofficial copy is sufficient and can be requested from the UCSB Registrar's office via GOLD or you can print your unofficial transcript from GOLD on your own computer.
  5. Graduate Students: Letter from academic department regarding your status or progress in the program.

 

The visa renewal process will be the same procedure that you followed the first time you applied for the visa. Each time you apply for a visa you must prove to the consular officer you have enough funds to continue studying, you have been a full time student, and that you plan to return to your home country after completion of your degree.

Please note that it may be difficult to obtain a visa from a consular post that is not in your home country. The application procedures and processing time for a visa may vary depending on the US Embassy/Consulate you visit. Many consular posts are taking several weeks to process visa applications, so you will need to make sure that you will have enough time in your travel plans to obtain the visa. You may want to contact the US Embassy/Consulate you intend to visit to inquire about their procedures. Then you can make your plans accordingly. Information on US Embassies and Consulates can be found at the State Department website.

If you are not sure your documents are current or have questions about traveling and reentering the US please make an appointment at OISS well in advance of when you plan to leave.