Students: Read these Tips for Traveling During the Holidays
Winter break is great time to make plans to travel outside of the United States or back to your home country; however, there are a few things you should know upon your return to school. Read below for tips and resources on what to do before you leave and upon your return to the United States.
Tip 1: Meet with Your Designated School Official (DSO)
If you are traveling abroad this holiday season, it is important to check in with your DSO before leaving the country. When you meet with your DSO, you should ensure that:
- Your record in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is up-to-date and in Active status.
- You have your DSO’s most up-do-date contact information, including both a daytime telephone number at the school, including a 24-hour emergency phone number.
- You understand what to expect when re-entering the country and have all the necessary travel documents.
Tip 2: What to bring to U.S. Ports of Entry
When you enter the United States, you will arrive at a port of entry and meet with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers for primary and sometimes a secondary inspection. The CBP officer may ask questions about your reason for travel and to inspect important documents like your:
- Student visa.
- Form 1-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status.”
Be sure to hand-carry these items and do not put them in your checked baggage.
Tip 3: Understand the Form I-515A
In some cases, the CBP officer may issue you a Form I-515A, “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor,” which authorizes temporary admission to the United States for 30 days while you obtain and submit the proper documentation to SEVP. Notify your DSO right away if you receive a Form I-515A. If you do not respond to a Form I-515A within 30 days, it will negatively affect your F or M status and you may be required to leave the United States.
For more information, tips, and resources, review the materials on the “Government Voices Webinar: What to Expect at a U.S. Port of Entry” page.