If you are thinking of leaving the U.S., even for a few hours, there are some things you need to know.

At least two (2) weeks before you plan to leave the country, you will need to alert International Services. You will then schedule an appointment to ensure you have a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 and to see if there is anything new with regard to travel regulations.

Please note, as an F-1 student visa holder, if you plan on traveling outside the United States while you are on post-completion OPT, you are required to have a Travel Authorization Signature on your I-20 that is not more than 6 months old. Request a travel signature from International Services at least two (2) weeks prior to your planned travel in order to process a new I-20.

If you are traveling to a country other than your home country, you may need a visitor’s or transit visa. Find other countries' embassies at the State Department's list of To find out, visit that country’s embassy website at Contact Information for Foreign Embassies, and search for the consular section nearest you.

F-1 students are generally given visas that have either multiple entries, or a limited number of entries (usually 1 or 2, in this case). The visas also have a specific period of validity. The difference between these can be confusing, especially to the visa holders. The number of entries refers to how often the visa may be used to enter the U.S. The period of validity refers to the length of time the visa is usable for entry to the U.S.

When an F-1 visa holder is admitted to the U.S., it is almost always as D/S (duration of status), which can be seen on the I-94 and I-20, when they are stamped. Under very specific conditions, visa holders with D/S are allowed to use their F-1 visa even after it has expired to re-enter the U.S. This provision is known as automatic visa revalidation, and it has no official limit of duration.

  • The travel may take place only to Mexico, Canada and the neighboring Caribbean islands (except Cuba)
  • The passport must still be valid (in some cases, for at least 6 months after your date of reentry)
  • The I-20 and status must still be valid
  • The visa holder must retain the I-94 card upon departure, so it can be presented upon return
  • The time spent outside the U.S. must not exceed 30 days

Currently, citizens of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria are not eligible for automatic visa revalidation.

REMEMBER: The automatic revalidation does NOT work for travel to countries other than the ones mentioned above. If you have an expired student visa and attempt to board a flight to the U.S. from a country other than those mentioned above, you will not be allowed to board the flight & therefore be put in a difficult situation.

Travel during grace period

As an F-1 or J-1 visa holder, you may enter the United States up to 30 days prior to the start of your program at school. You are free to travel anywhere in the United States during that time. In addition, at the end of your program, you have 30 days (as a J-1 student) or 60 days (as an F-1 student) to remain in the United States before you are in violation of your visa. Many students take this “grace period” as an opportunity to travel within the U.S., however it is important to remain in the United States and not attempt a “day-trip” to another country (e.g. Mexico or Canada). Your grace period ends the moment you depart the U.S. and your student visa is no longer valid for reentry. If your travel plans during the 30-day grace period include a visit outside the country and then a re-entry to the U.S. before returning home, you must plan to re-enter in tourist visa status, not a student visa status. Please be careful and do not overstay your time in the United States. It may affect your ability to obtain a visa in the future.

Regional Travel

Louisville is demographically located in the center of the United States—within 600 miles of 60% of the population, with direct flights to many of the major cities (e.g. Washington, DC, Chicago, Atlanta, and New York). In addition, we are within driving distance of several cities and natural sites. Some suggested sites to visit to get an understanding of the travel opportunities and sites in the surrounding region are: