Know Before You Go: International Students and Summer Travel
The Department of Homeland Security plays an important role in welcoming international travelers to the United States. Every day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) screens thousands of visitors at the ports of entry. F and M international students who leave the country to go home for summer vacation and plan to return to the United States next semester should review the rules from CBP and U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
In preparation, international students should bring the following documents with them when they travel:
- Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," endorsed for travel.
- A current passport, valid for at least six months.
- A valid visa.
- Proof of financial support to pay living expenses and tuition.
- Contact information for the designated school official at the SEVP-certified school they attend.
Students should hand-carry all of these documents — instead of packing the items in checked luggage — to easily present them to CBP officers at the port of entry. It is important to be prepared for this inspection; if students have incomplete or missing information, they may be referred to secondary inspection and may either receive a Form I-515A, "Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor," requiring them to submit the information to SEVP, or they may be denied admission into the United States.
While home, students may shop for items they wish to bring back to campus with them. However, it is important for nonimmigrants to understand what they can and cannot bring to the United States. Along with inspection at the port of entry, they must fill out a CBP Declaration Form 6059B, which tells the officers what they packed. Students, and all nonimmigrant travelers, must be completely honest on this form. For more information, visit CBP's Know Before You Go page.