Travel Abroad Information
Newsletter for International Students & Scholars
December 16, 2010
This is a Special Travel Edition of Crossmail
for international students at Montclair State University.
It contains the latest travel information available on current immigration regulations.
Read it and carry it with you during your vacation travels.
IMPORTANT: If you have any questions or concerns, contact our office BEFORE you travel at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone at 973-655-6862
INTERNATIONAL SERVICES AND ALL MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY OFFICES WILL BE CLOSED
FOR THE HOLIDAY FROM DECEMBER 24, 2010 TO JANUARY 3, 2011.
TRAVEL WITHIN THE UNITED STATES:
Many students think that their passport and visa documents are only needed when traveling abroad.
If you are planning a trip within the United States by car, bus, train or airplane, to U.S. cities near or far, students are urged to be sure to have their passport, visa documents (I-94 card and I-20 (F1 Visas) or DS-2019 (J1 Visas), and MSU student ID card with them for ALL distance U.S. travel.
Be sure to keep your documents in a safe place at all times.
TRAVEL TO CANADA OR MEXICO:
For travel to Canada or Mexico, first check to see if a tourist visa will be required to enter either country. You may contact the Canadian or Mexican Consulates in New York City for more information on whether you will need their visitors visa and how to obtain it. You will need to have your passport, visa documents (I-94 card and I-20 or DS-2019), and MSU student ID card with you when you travel, and be certain that your I-20 or DS-2019 has an authorizing signature from an International Student Adviser no older than September 1, 2010.
The U.S. Department of State regulations allows F-1 and J-1 visa holders to use the "automatic revalidation of visa" benefit [22 CFR 41.112(d)] to re-enter the United States after a 30-day or less visit to a "contiguous territory" (Canada, Mexico and the "adjacent islands other than Cuba") without having to obtain a new visa prior to re-entry. However, any F-1 or J-1 visa holder who chooses to apply for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico will no longer be eligible for the "automatic revalidation" benefit during the course of that trip, but will have to wait until the visa is approved in order to re-enter the United States. If the F-1 or J-1 visa application is denied, that individual will not be permitted to re-enter the United States, and will instead have to return to his or her home country.
However, non-immigrants traveling to Canada or Mexico for less than thirty days and returning to the United States (other than citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba) who do not intend to apply for a new U.S. visa can still make use of the automatic revalidation benefit, and re-enter on their expired U.S. visas, as long as they have a valid, unexpired passport, their I-94 card, and a valid and signed I-20 or DS-2019.
SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT I-94 DEPARTURE CARDS: 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, who will not be applying for a new U.S. visa while there, AND who will be resuming their studies upon their return should NEVER surrender their I-94 card when they depart . Canadian or Mexican citizens returning to their home country should surrender their I-94 card as they enter their country, and obtain a new I-94 card the next time they enter the United States. Canadian nationals should be sure to carry with them their financial documentation that verifies the information on their I-20 when getting ready to return to the United States.
DOCUMENT CHECKLIST FOR TRAVELING ABROAD -
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS WITH YOU IF YOU PLAN TO REENTER THE UNITED STATES AFTER TRAVELING ABROAD:
When was the last time you checked the expiration date in your passport? In order to travel, your passport MUST be valid at least six months into the future. Passports may be renewed at your country's embassy or consulate in the United States. If you have access to the Internet, you can obtain up-to-date information on passport renewal. You will find the web site for your country's embassy or consulate at
FORM I-20 (for F-1 visa holders) OR FORM DS-2019 (for J-1 visa holders)
If you are currently in F1 or J1 visa status, you should be traveling using your SEVIS I-20 (F1 visas) or DS-2019 (J1 Visas). However, be sure to save all of your previous I-20s or DS-2019s as they represent your immigration "history" in the United States. If you will need to apply for a new visa, check the front of your I-20 or DS-2019 carefully to be sure the field of study, level of study, and source of funds are still correct. Allow 5 working days for International Services (I.S.) to prepare new visa documents for you.
I-94 ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE CARD
You will need to surrender your I-94 card upon your departure from the United States. You will be issued a new I-94 card upon your re-entry to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will issue you a new admission number each time you enter the United States. However, your SEVIS ID number (printed at the top right of your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019) will not change.
SPECIAL NOTE: F-1 and J-1 students with expired U.S. visas who are traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands for less than 30 days AND who will be resuming their studies upon their return should NEVER surrender their I-94 card when they leave the U.S.
Canadian or Mexican citizens returning to their home country should surrender their I-94 card as they enter their country, and obtain a new I-94 card the next time they enter the United States. Canadian nationals should be sure to carry with them their financial documentation that verifies the information on their I-20 when getting ready to return to the United States.
Check your U.S. visa stamp inside your passport. Has your visa stamp expired? If it is still valid, is it for multiple entry, or is it for one entry? Finally, is the category for which the visa was issued the status you currently hold (for example, if you are currently in F-1 status, you must have a valid F-1 visa in your passport). If you are in F-1 or J-1 status and traveling to Canada, Mexico, or islands adjacent to North America, you do not need a valid U.S. visa as long as you have been maintaining your status, have a valid passport and I-20 or DS-2019 and are entering those countries for tourist purposes and your stay will be thirty days or less (you DO need a valid U.S. visa if you are a citizen of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, or Cuba). However, travel to all other countries will require that you have a valid U.S. visa before you may re-enter the United States. This is especially true if you changed your non-immigrant status while in the United States (for example, changed from F-2 to F-1). This will mean applying for a new visa at the U.S. Consulate in the country you will visit. Be sure to see section 5, "Applying for a New Visa at a U.S. Consulate Abroad."
MSU ID CARD
Carry your current MSU ID card with you as supporting documentation.
CONSULAR LETTER OF CERTIFICATION FOR STUDENTS APPLYING FOR A NEW VISA
This is a letter issued by IS that verifies you are a current student at MSU and that you are in valid status. It is required if you plan to apply for a new or renewed visa while you are abroad. Any international student traveling outside the United States who will be applying for a new F-1 or J-1 visa should request such a letter from I.S. at least 5 days prior to travel.
Have you been maintaining the requirements of your non-immigrant status? If you are an F-1 or J-1 student, this means:
- Maintaining full time registration each semester at the school you are authorized to attend
- Reporting changes of address to the IS within ten days
- Work only with legal employment authorization
- Not letting your I-20 or DS-2019 expire
- J-1 visa holders are also required to have health and accident insurance for both themselves and their J-2 dependents, and the insurance must include a medical evacuation and repatriation benefit.
If you think you may have violated the conditions of your status, be sure to speak to staff in International Services (IS) BEFORE departing the United States so we can advise you about the risks of being denied permission to return.
MSU TRANsc-ript FOR STUDENTS APPLYING FOR OR RENEWING THEIR VISAS
Have a copy of your MSU transc-ript with you if you will be applying for a new student visa abroad, to show the consular official that you have been making satisfactory progress towards your degree.
FOREIGN VISA FOR TRAVEL TO OTHER COUNTRIES
If you are visiting a country other than your own, you may need a visitor's visa to enter that country. You can find out about entry requirements for other countries by clicking on http://www.embassy.org/embassies/
Current documented proof of financial support that appears on your I-20 or DS-2019 is required if you will be applying for a new student visa abroad, OR if you are a national of Canada or Mexico who is traveling home to Canada or Mexico for the summer.
If you are on Practical Training, you must have your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), your SEVIS I-20 Form endorsed for practical training, and a letter from your employer verifying your employment status in order to re-enter the United States. DHS regulations state that an F-1 student on authorized practical training may depart the country temporarily and re-enter the United States to "resume" employment. If you are on Practical Training and will need to obtain a new F-1 visa before returning to the United States, you must have with you a letter from your employer, verifying your employment status. Students are warned that visa issuance for individuals on practical
training can be riskier. Practical Training students are strongly urged to discuss their situation with International Services before they travel.
IF YOU ARE LEAVING MONTCLAIR STATE PERMANENTLY:
If you will no longer be continuing your studies at Montclair State, either because you are returning to your country, or are beginning Practical Training, or because you are going to begin study at a new school -- It is important that you keep all of your old I-20s or DS-2019s. These forms represent your immigration history in the United States and should be kept in a safe place as you would any important document.
If you were employed on or off campus during the current year, be sure to give the Payroll office your forwarding address. This will allow tax documents, including W-2 forms, to be sent to you when they become available in February.
Transferring to another U.S. School - The U.S. federal regulatory process for transferring your F-1 status from Montclair State to a new school requires that you notify the I.S. of your intent to transfer. If you have already been issued a SEVIS I-20 Form by Montclair State, there is a SEVIS "transfer out" process which must be followed, or else your new school cannot issue you an I-20. Also, it's important that you follow your new school's instructions for reporting to the International Student Office at the beginning of your semester there.
Departing the U.S. Permanently - Students who will be ending their studies but have no plans to apply for practical training (F-1), academic training (J-1) or continue at a new school or in a new field or level of study, or seek a change of non-immigrant status -- must depart the United States within sixty days of graduation or completion of their academic program if they are in F-1 status, or within thirty days if they are in J-1 status.
APPLYING FOR A NEW VISA AT A U.S. CONSULATE ABROAD:
Remember when you applied for your U.S. visa the first time? Applying for a new visa to replace the one that has expired in your passport requires you to present similar documentation.
Any student who is traveling outside the United States whose U.S. visa has expired will need to renew it at a U.S. visa issuing post abroad before the student can return to the United States. In most cases, the visa application will be filed in your home country. It is advisable to check with the U.S. Consulate or Embassy, or its web site link: http://travel.state.gov for the most current instructions. Allow plenty of time for the visa application process, and begin the process as soon as possible after you arrive home. Nearly all U.S. Consular posts overseas have their own web sites. Information on Consular post policies, procedures and documentary requirements can be obtained via these web sites which may be accessed from the U.S. State Department's main web page at: http://travel.state.gov
The US State Department has also prepared information about student visas on its web site which may be useful to you as an international student. This may be found at
Visa officials are required to verify your record in the SEVIS system before a visa can be approved. This is also true for any dependents. If the visa official is unable to access your record in SEVIS and you have a SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019, please contact the I.S. by e-mail, phone or fax to alert us to the problem. Our contact information is listed at the end of this email.
VISA APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS
To apply for a new visa, you will need to complete application forms available for download at: https://evisaforms.state.gov
You will also need one photograph 1 and 1/2 inches square, showing full face, without head covering, against a light background. You will need to have sufficient currency to pay the required visa fees, OR a receipt showing that you have paid the visa fees. You will need your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 form. You will want to have a Consular letter of certification from the I.S., verifying your enrollment as well as the fact that you have been maintaining valid (F-1 or J-1) status.
You will also need to show proof of financial support, binding ties to your home country which you have no intentions of abandoning, and that you plan to return to your home country upon the conclusion of your studies. Some U.S. Consulates will ask you how you plan to use your U.S. education in your home country. Many consulates will ask you to present copies of your academic transc-ripts to prove that you have been maintaining student status in the United States and that you have been making satisfactory progress in your program. Plan to have copies with you, but do not present it to a consular officer unless you are specifically asked to do so.
APPLYING FOR A NEW VISA IN CANADA OR MEXICO
U.S. State Department regulations state that any non-immigrant who chooses to apply for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico (but is not a citizen of either of those two countries) and whose visa application is subsequently denied will not be permitted to re-enter the United States. So, international students should consider this matter carefully when applying for a U.S. visa in Canada or Mexico. See Section 3 for further details.