Preparing for Travel
While you are studying at IUPUI you may want to travel outside the United States, such as:
- to return to your home country over your 5th session vacation
- to explore another country on spring break or other session break
- to travel outside the U.S. after you have completed your PIE studies but before you begin a new degree program
But, before you pack your luggage, there are some steps you need to take to protect your F-1 status.
Travel Signature on your I-20
Before you leave the country, make sure you have a valid travel signature from an OIA immigration advisor on page 2 of your I-20. You will not be able to re-enter the United States without one.
To get a travel signature, make a request through iStart at least two weeks before you plan to travel, and bring your I-20 to PIE hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Check your I-20 expiration date
Check the completion date in the Program of Study section of your I-20. To return to PIE, your I-20 must still be valid when you re-enter the U.S.
If your I-20 expires soon, you need to request an Extension of Program in iStart before you travel. When your extension is approved, a new I-20 will be printed and signed for travel.
Updated financial documentation will be required to process your I-20 extension.
Make sure your visa stamp is still valid
This is your F-1 visa stamp (sticker) in your passport. Will the visa stamp be valid beyond the date you plan to re-enter the United States? If not, you must apply for a new visa stamp while you are abroad.
Talk to OIA immigration advisors during PIE Hours if you have questions.
Canadian citizens do not have an F-1 visa stamp.
Check your passport expiration date
A condition of F-1 status is that you keep a valid passport. You must have a valid passport to travel internationally. OIA immigration advisors can help you contact your home country consulate if you need a renewal while you are still at PIE, or an emergency travel document.
Are you going to a third country?
If you are traveling to or through a third country (not your home country and not the U.S.), you may need to apply for a visitor or transit visa.
To find out what you will need for the third country, visit that country's Embassy/Consulate website. You can find Foreigh Embassies of Washington D.C. here.
If you are traveling to the European Union and your home country is not within the E.U., you may apply for a Schengen Visa, which permits travel within the E.U.
Are you traveling through Canada?
Canada now requires Electronic Travel Authorization, or ETA for many citizens of visa-exempt countries who enter Canada (even to transit through the airport). This means that you may need to apply for authorization if you are only changing flights in Canada.
When are you expected back to the U.S.?
Are you traveling between PIE sessions?
Be sure that you are back and ready to attend PIE for the first day of your new session. You can check the PIE calendar here or check with PIE staff.
Are you taking an emergency trip home?
Be sure that you talk with an OIA immigration advisor before you travel. If you will miss class time, those missed hours count towards your limit. OIA immigration advisors can help you protect your immigration status so you can return to PIE when you are ready.
Are you traveling on your 5th session vacation?
Be sure you have been approved for your 5th session vacation. During this time, you can remain inside the U.S. or travel internationally. You must return to PIE for the next (6th) session to begin. You can find PIE's session dates here.
Are you traveling after you finish PIE but before you begin your degree program?
First, have you talked with an OIA immigration advisor for help transferring your I-20 to your new program?
After OIA has sent your immigration record (or I-20) to your new school, your new school will collect your financial information and issue you a new I-20 with their school name and degree information. With this new I-20, you have two options:
- Remain in the U.S. between PIE and your new program as long as your time in between classes is less than 5 months.
- You may travel internationally. You can only return to the U.S. 30 days before the start date on your new I-20.
Ask an OIA immigration advisor if you have questions about your options.