Below you will find information on the documentation needed to return to the US from international travel.   Please be sure that you have the necessary documents and signatures before you depart the US.  If you have any questions, talk to an OIS advisor during regular walk in hours.  

Basics for All Immigration Classifications.  All nonimmigrants must have the following items to reenter the US:

  • A passport that will be valid for at least 6 months after the date of reentry to the U.S. and
  • A valid, unexpired visa for the type of entry which is being requested (i.e., F-1 student, J-1 exchange visitor, H1-B temporary worker, etc.)   Note:  Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from visa requirements.  
    • Some individuals can travel to Mexico, Canada, or islands adjacent to the US except Cuba and return with an expired US visa.   You must check with OIS to see if you qualify for this exception.

F-1 and J-1 students and scholars must have:

  • An unexpired I-20 or DS-2019 with an OIS advisor travel signature that will be not more than 1 year old on the day you return to the U.S. 
  • NOTE:  The travel signature for F-1 students on OPT and J-1 Short-Term Scholars is valid for only 6 months.  
  • F-1 Students on OPT must normally show their valid EAD and proof of current employment.  You can click on the links that follow for information on travel for Post-Completion OPT and for STEM OPT.
    •  J-1 Alien Physicians sponsored by ECFMG must obtain a travel signature from ECFMG personnel, not OIS staff.   Plan ahead!  Information is available on the ECFMG travel page

Employees in H-1B or O-1 status must have several items to document immigration status.  Carefully review the information on the web for H-1B travel and O-1 travel and contact OIS with any questions.

Airlines and immigration officers may prohibit you from boarding an airplane or deny you entry to the US if you do not have complete reentry documentation.   A call to OIS can sometimes help (667-208-7001 during regular business hours; 443-240-1938 after hours only for emergencies).  However, there is still no guarantee a border official will re-admit you to the U.S. if you have incomplete documentation.