Vacation Travel outside the United States
- Obtain a travel signature from an ISO counselor every time you leave the United States.
- Come to the ISO for your travel signature at least one week before you plan to travel. Bring your passport, I-20 and I-94 with you to your appointment
- Know the date you plan to re-enter the U.S.
- Make sure your passport is valid for six months beyond your re-entry date, your F-1 student visa is valid and current, and your I-20 is current with a program end-date beyond the date of re-entry.
The ISO will authorize travel if you are in good academic standing, have not yet completed your program, and your health insurance coverage is current.
Example: Travel Authorization
You are on your pre-approved vacation quarter. You have paid for your health insurance for the current quarter and you will resume a full-time load next quarter. You are eligible to get a travel signature and you will be able to return to the U.S. because you will still be a full-time student at UCLA Extension. If you are going to travel to a country that is not your country of citizenship, you may need a visa issued by that country to be able to enter. Contact the consulate of the country you will visit to ask about entry visa requirements. See embassy.org for a list of foreign consulates and embassies in the U.S.
You complete your program at the end of the Spring Quarter. You want to travel to Mexico for a brief vacation of one week during your 60-day grace period after your program ends, and then return to the U.S. to collect your things and return home. You are not eligible for a travel signature because you will not be returning to the U.S. to be a full-time student at UCLA Extension. You have completed your certificate program and do not intend to study further at UCLA Extension. You may not travel.
Travel Regulations for Canada, Mexico, or Caribbean Islands
If you visit Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands other than Cuba for less than 30 days, you must:
- Have a valid passport.
- Fill out an I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, but keep it in your possession. Do not give it to authorities when you leave the U.S.
- Check if your F-1 student visa has expired. Traveling to these nearby places on an expired visa is generally OK, except for Mexico (See below).
- Have an I-20 with a travel signature. Warning: If you travel to Mexico and your I-20 is not signed but your visa is valid, you may be required to go through Secondary Inspection, which can delay your return to the U.S. up to several hours. If your I-20 is not signed and your visa has expired, you may be required to apply for a new visa in Mexico before you are allowed to re-enter the U.S. This may take several days, or even weeks.
- Check to see if you need a visa issued by Canada or Mexico to travel. Examine the websites of the local Mexican Consulate or Canadian Consulate.
Renewing Your F-1 Student Visa
If your F-1 student visa has expired or if you were granted only one entry on your visa and you elect to travel, before returning to the U.S. you will have to go to a U.S. consulate or embassy, preferably in your home country, and apply for a new visa.
You cannot renew your visa in the United States. Although you can apply for a new visa in a third country, if the visa is denied you will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. You will have to return to your home country from the third country. Applying for an F-1 student visa.
International Travel for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) Students
If you completed your certificate program and have applied or been approved for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), you have the following travel options:
- If you have not received your OPT Receipt/Notice of Action, DO NOT TRAVEL. You may be denied re-entry to the United States.
- If you have received your OPT receipt/Notice of Action, but have not yet received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), you may travel, and re-enter the United States to look for work.
- If you have received your EAD, but have no proof of a job offer, DO NOT TRAVEL. You may be denied re-entry to the United States.
- If you have received your EAD, and you have proof of a job offer or are employed, you may travel, and re-enter the United States to resume or begin work.
For your travel authorization signature, schedule an appointment with your ISO counselor and bring your passport, visa, I-20, and I-94. Also bring your OPT Receipt/Notice of Action and your EAD if it has been issued, along with either a job offer letter or proof of continuing employment. You will need these documents when re-entering the U.S. after travel. We will review with you the above travel options.