College of the
International Students

College of the Redwoods
International Student Program


Traveling outside the U.S. requires special attention

In order to re-enter the U.S. after a temporary absence such as a vacation, you must have the following documents:

  • a valid passport
  • a valid F-1 or M-1 visa in your passport
  • a valid official acceptance document or IAP-66, signed on the back by the International Student Office for travel
  • copies of your financial support documents
  • college transcripts

Travel and Re-entry to the USA with an Expired F-1 Visa

Immigration regulations state that students cannot re-enter the USA to continue their education if their F-1 visa is expired. This rule applies even if the student has an official acceptance document that has not expired and is signed for re-entry by an International Student Office. In such cases if students depart from the USA they must obtain a new visa outside the USA.

Special Registration (NSEERS) ICE Special Registration
  1. Register with immigration authorities at a port of entry,
  2. Report to DHS for additional in-person interviews if instructed by the Port-of-Entry official,
  3. Notify immigration authorities of changes of residential address by notifying your school,
  4. Use specially designated ports when entering or leaving the U.S. and report in person to an immigration officer at the port of their departure date. Reference: ICE's NSEERS Factsheet
Nationals and citizens from the following countries are required to comply with the Special Registration, as of December, 2003: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

It is very important for a student to consider this additional processing time if they plan to travel outside the USA with an expired visa. For example, if you have an expired visa and plan to go home for a visit during a one week break between classes it is likely that you will not get back to the USA in time to begin classes because it will take a minimum of 3 weeks to obtain your new visa.
Traveling to Canada or Mexico
    As an exception to the regulation requiring an unexpired visa to re-enter the USA there has been a rule that F-1 students can re-enter the USA from Canada or Mexico with an expired F-1 visa if they have a valid passport, I-94, and an official acceptance document signed for re-entry by the International Student Office at their current school and if they have stayed in Canada or Mexico for not more than 30 days. This rule has changed as follows:
  1. Beginning January 1, 2007 the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires that all travelers, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals alike present a valid passport or other document, or a combination of documents, that denote identity and citizenship when entering the United States. Due to the new WHTI, CR recommends that you do not travel to Canada or Mexico with an expired visa.
Travel within the U.S.

Whether you are traveling within the state of California or elsewhere in the U.S., be sure to carry proof of your identity and immigration status at all times. This includes:

  1. a valid passport,
  2. a valid I-20, and
  3. the I-94 departure card.
Note: We generally do not recommend carrying your passport and other original documents on a daily basis; however, at a minimum carry a set of copies in your purse or wallet. The set should include your passport ID page, your visa page, you I-94 departure card, and your I-20. Unfortunately, a state driver's license or state ID is not an acceptable form for federal identification purposes.

Travel Information Resources