Summer break is approaching on many school calendars. If you are an F-1 or M-1 student, you should take a moment to review travel rules so you can maintain your student status.
- Always get approval from your designated school official (DSO) before you go. Your DSO will show approval by signing your Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," which you must present to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers when you re-enter the United States.
- For an F-1 student, DSO approval must be within one year of the date of your desired return.
- For an M-1 student, DSO approval must be within six months of the date of your desired return.
- Keep your DSO’s name and contact information with you while you travel in case you have any problems.
- Ensure your passport and visa are valid before you leave. If not, update them before your return.
If you leave the United States, a CBP officer will conduct primary inspection when you return. The officer will ask for your reason for departure, reason for return, passport, visa and current Form I-20.
If you forget your documents, especially your Form I-20, CBP may issue you a Form I-515A, “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor." You must submit the missing documents and Form I-515A to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program within 30 days or leave the United States. If you need help, talk to your DSO.
You may also want to bring the following documents with you:
- Proof of financial support you showed to the U.S. embassy or consulate during your visa appointment
- Evidence of acceptance to your school
- Paper receipt from payment of your I-901 SEVIS fee
Remember, never put your required documents in your checked luggage; always carry them with you in an easily accessible place.
If you are not traveling for summer break and are looking for activities, read the rules for volunteering and look for opportunities around your campus.