Whether it is within the U.S. or abroad, the following is a summary of the documents you should have with you when you travel.
Within the U.S.
When traveling within the U.S., you should carry a form of identification with you at all times, such as your college I.D. or a driver's license. If you are boarding a plane, you must show a government-issued I.D.; your college I.D. will not be adequate.
Outside of the U.S.
- A signed SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 form
Page 3 of your I-20 form (if you are in F-1 status) or DS-2019 form (if you are in J-1 status) must be signed prior to your departure by the staff in the International Student Services office. Please also bring a completed Request for Travel Endorsement form (pdf). (Note: Keep all previous I-20 or DS-2019 forms as documentation of your history in the U.S.)
Your passport must be valid at least six months into the future, according to U.S. immigration law. Passports may be renewed at your country's embassy or consulate in the U.S.
- Valid U.S. visa
Your passport's visa stamp is what authorizes your entry into the U.S. If you still hold your current visa’s status (F-1 or J-1), the visa has not expired and is for multiple entry with more entries remaining, then you are set to travel. Otherwise, you will need to apply for a new visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country to which you are traveling in order to re-enter the U.S. If you are visiting Canada, Mexico or islands adjacent to North America (except Cuba), contact the International Student Services office to learn about the unique requirements.
- Foreign visa
If you are visiting a country other than your own, you may need a visitor's visa to enter. Contact that country's embassy or consulate in the U.S.
- I-94 card
In general, you will need to surrender your I-94 card upon your departure from the U.S. You will be issued a new I-94 card upon your re-entry in the U.S. with a new admission number. This includes Canadian and Mexican nationals returning to their home country. F-1 and J-1 students with expired U.S. visas who are traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands for up to 30 days AND who will be resuming their studies upon their return should NEVER surrender their I-94 card.
- Proof of financial support
You need to carry financial documentation when re-entering the U.S., especially Canadian nationals to verify the information on their I-20 at the border. If you will need to apply for a new visa, your financial documentation is required at the visa interview.
- Union ID card
Your current Union I.D. acts as supporting documentation.
- Union transcript
An official Union College transcript is necessary only if you will be applying for a new student visa abroad. This shows the Consular officials that you have been making satisfactory progress towards your degree.
Special registration (NSEERS) applicants
If you were required to go through the special registration process (pdf) within the past twelve months because you are male and from one of the 26 designated countries, there is a special exit procedure that you must follow before you can depart the United States. Generally, this exit procedure will take place at the airport where your overseas flight will depart and can add several hours to your departure schedule. Allow extra time so as not to miss your flight!
- F-1 Optional Practical Training
If you have completed your studies and have applied for Optional Practical Training, in order to re-enter the U.S. you must have your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, your I-20 endorsed for practical training within the past six months, a valid visa stamp and a valid letter of employment. An F-1 on authorized practical training may depart the United States temporarily and re-enter the United States to resume employment. Resume means that you not only have a job offer, but you have already started work. If you are on Optional Practical Training and will need to obtain a new F-1 visa before returning to the U.S., it is strongly advised that you do not travel. You have to prove to the U.S. Consulate officer that you will return to your home country, and that could be difficult.