Students may often want to leave the United States. To do this, you should take a few things into consideration. Making sure that you have considered the items listed below before you leave the US will help you to re-enter the US:

Valid Passport

Your passport should generally be valid for at least six months after the date that you enter the US. If your passport has expired or will expire, be sure to take care of this either before you leave or on your trip. Students from certain countries are also permitted to enter the US anytime that their passport is valid. For a list of these countries, please see the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) press release.

Valid Visa

Check to make sure that your visa will permit you to re-enter the country. Though a valid I-20 or DS-2019 is all that is necessary to remain in the country, any time you want to enter the US, you must have a valid visa. There are two things that you should check about your visa:

  • Make sure that it is not expired.
  • Also check to see how many entries you are allowed with your visa. Quite often, the "Entries" field indicates "M," which means that you can enter multiple times. If, however, you have a number, e.g., "1," "2," etc., that is the total number of entries you are allowed. So, for example, if you are allowed only two entries and you have already entered the US with that visa on two separate occasions, it will not be valid for a third. Be sure to check for this.

If you will need to get a new visa, please contact our office for up-to-date information on visa renewal.

Valid F-1 or J-1 visas are required for citizens of all countries, except Canada. Canadian citizens can enter the US using only their valid I-20 or DS-2019 plus a travel signature (see below for more on validity).

Valid I-20 or DS-2019

Your I-20 or DS-2019 must be valid at all times. If your I-20 or DS-2019 has or will soon expire, you should request an extension. Please see the Extension of Stay Request Form for either F-1 or J-1 here. Be sure to request an extension of your I-20 or DS-2019 at least one month before its expiration date. Also make sure that your I-20 or DS-2019 has accurate and up-to-date information about your program of study, level, financing, etc. Contact the ISSS office if any of this information needs to be updated.

Travel Signature

Regardless of other circumstances, you will need a travel signature. To get one, fill out and review the Travel Signature Request Form. Be sure to request this travel signature at least three weeks before you plan to leave St. Louis.

Non-US Visa

Each country has different visa requirements and vary not only from country to country but also depending on your country of citizenship. For this reason, the Office of International Student and Scholar Services cannot help you determine which (if any) visas you will need for your trip. Please do some research on your own to learn this. Good places to look for information are the websites of the embassy of the country to which you'd like to travel. As list of foreign embassies in the US can be found here. You may also want to find more specific information about your case via the website for the embassy of your destination country that is located in your home country, e.g., a Korean national traveling to Bulgaria may want to search out the Bulgarian embassy in Seoul.

Automatic Visa Revalidation

If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, or a neighboring Caribbean island (except Cuba), you may be able to use Automatic Visa Revalidation. Students can exit the US on this program and re-enter with an expired US visa. To qualify for Automatic Visa Revalidation, the interested student must:

  • Be traveling to Canada, Mexico, or a Caribbean island near to the US (except Cuba)
  • Have an original and valid I-94 card,
  • Be in good F-1 or J-1 status,
  • Have a valid I-20 or DS-2019, and
  • Have an expired F-1 or J-1 visa.

You cannot apply for automatic visa revalidation if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have applied for but not been issued a new visa,
  • You have previously been denied a US visa,
  • You have a terminated SEVIS record,
  • You have been out-of-status for thirty or more days, or
  • You are a citizen from: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Lybia, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria.

If you are considering using Automatic Visa Revalidation, please reach out to UMSL Global before your travel, so we can advise you accordingly as this process is nuanced and options might vary from student to student.