Entry Into the U.S.
Be prepared to present the following items at the port of entry into the U.S.:
- I-20 (F-1 students) or DS-2019 (J-1 exchange visitors)
- Valid passport
- Valid U.S. visa
- Financial evidence
- Current class schedule
- SEVIS I-901 fee receipt
I-20 (F-1 Students)
Your I-20 must be signed by an adviser in the Office of International Programs (initial entries and subsequent entries) before you leave the U.S. All current students are required to obtain a travel signature that allows you to return to the U.S. This signature will be valid for one year (12 months) and can be used for multiple entries. If you are on OPT, you must obtain a travel signature every 6 months. To obtain a travel signature, submit your I-20 to the OIP front desk. Your I-20 will be available for pick-up the next business day. We require 1 business day to process the travel signature so please plan ahead before you travel.
DS-2019 (J-1 Exchange Visitors)
Your DS -2019 must be signed by an adviser in the Office of International Programs (initial entries and subsequent entries) before you leave the U.S. All current students are required to obtain a travel signature that allows you to return to the U.S. This signature will be valid for one year (12 months) and can be used for multiple entries. If you are on OPT, you must obtain a travel signature every 6 months. To obtain a travel signature, submit your DS -2019 to the OIP front desk. Your I-20 will be available for pick-up the next business day. We require 1 business day to process the travel signature so please plan ahead before you travel.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months when seeking admission or readmission to the United States, unless your country has an agreement with the United States. For a list of countries under this agreement, see the list on the Immigration Customs Enforcement website. Your passport should remain valid throughout your stay in the U.S.
Valid U.S. Visa
You must present a valid, unexpired visa in the category for which admission is being sought each time you enter the U.S. (Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement; however, landed immigrants of Canada are generally required to obtain a visa.) If your visa expires while you are in the U.S., the next time you travel abroad you must obtain a new visa in the proper category in order to be readmitted to the United States. Apply for the visa in your home country, unless circumstances or travel plans make this impossible.If you apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate in another country, your application may be reviewed more critically than if you applied at home. In-person interviews are required for most visa applicants. You are encouraged to contact the U.S. consulate as early as possible to schedule the visa interview appointment. Anticipate delays in visa issuance due to enhanced security reviews.
An exception to the rule requiring a valid, unexpired visa exists for students in F-1 and J-1 status who travel for less than 30 days solely to Canada or Mexico or islands in the Caribbean except Cuba. Your visa will be considered to be "extended" (and "converted" to the proper visa category if you had changed status while in the U.S.) to the date of re-entry, eliminating the need to obtain a new visa at a U.S. consulate before that particular re-entry. This procedure is known as "automatic visa revalidation." Note that if you apply for a new visa while in Canada, Mexico and islands in the Caribbean, you will not be able to return to the U.S. unless the visa is granted. Also, citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Cuba, Sudan, and North Korea are not eligible for automatic visa revalidation.
You must carry evidence detailing the source and amount of your funding. Consular and immigration officers exercise considerable discretion in determining whether your financial support is sufficient to cover all academic and living expenses.
Current Class Schedule
You can print your current class schedule from your "My SAM" page.
New Students for initial entry: bring a copy of proof of admission to SHSU.
SEVIS I-901 Fee Receipt
If you cannot find your SEVIS fee receipt, visit the Student and Exchange Visitor Program SEVIS I-901 fee processing website to request a copy of your receipt.
Travel Within the United States
You and your dependents may be surprised to learn that federal law requires that you carry "registration" documentation at all times. This includes a basic identity document such as a passport, plus your current I-20 and I-94 card. For day-to-day purposes, we suggest you keep these documents in a secure location, such as a bank safe deposit box. However, if you are traveling within the U.S. you should carry these documents with you. If you are traveling by air, train, bus, or ship, you may be required to produce these documents before boarding. Keep photocopies of all your documents in a separate location, in the event your documents are lost or stolen.
Entry Into Another Country
Before you leave the United States, contact the consulate of the country to be visited to inquire about visa and travel procedures. If you plan to visit Canada, contact the Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles to determine if you need a visa to enter Canada.
Travel after completion of studies
F-1 students: If you travel outside the U.S. after completion of studies you may return to the U.S. in F-1 status provided you are in possession of:
- A new 1-20 indicating a new program of study, passport, visa and evidence of financial support.
- An Employment Authorization Document (EAD), I-20 endorsed for OPT and signed for travel within the last six months, proof of employment, passport and visa.
J-1 students: If you travel outside the U.S. after completion of studies you may return to the U.S. in J-1 status provided you are in possession of either:
- A new DS-2019 indicating a new program of study, passport, visa, and evidence of financial support.
- A DS-2019 endorsed for Academic Training and signed for travel within the last twelve months, proof of employment, passport and visa.
Note: Students who complete studies have a "grace period" during which they may prepare to depart the United States. The grace period for F-1 students is 60 days. (F-1 students on practical training must depart the U.S. within 60 days of the EAD card's expiration date.) The grace period for J-1 students is 30 days. Students who leave the U.S. during the grace period will not be permitted to return to the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status, except as noted above.
Travel and OPT
If your pre-completion OPT application is pending or approved, you may travel and reenter the U.S.
If your post-completion OPT application is pending, you may travel and re-enter the U.S.
After graduation, if your post-completion OPT has been approved and your EAD issued, you may not re-enter the U.S. unless you have evidence of employment. You should carry the following documents with you:
- I-20 signed for travel by an international student adviser within the last 6 months
- EAD card
- Valid passport
- Unexpired F-1 visa (unless returning from a short trip to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean)
- Evidence of employment in your field of study (letter of employment, written job offer)