Office of International Student & Scholar Services

Current Students

Travel


As an international student in the US you may be asked from time to time about your “visa” or your “status”. While in most situations in the US the two are interchangeable, it is a good idea for you to know the difference.

A visa is a stamp in your passport issued by a US Embassy or Consulate overseas (they cannot be obtained in the US).  The purpose of the visa is to allow you to be taken to a US port of entry to determine whether you are eligible for admission to the United States.  After you have been admitted to the US, the visa in your passport does not need to remain valid for you to be in the country legally.  However, if you travel outside of the U.S., a valid F-1/J-1 student visa may be required for your re-entry. We strongly encourage to visit OISSS prior to your leaving.  In addition, a valid travel signature on form I-20 or DS-2019 is required for F-1/J-1 students.

Status: As an international student, you are granted status upon clearing inspection at a US Port of Entry (airport). Your status can be found on your I-94 card, the small white card given to you at the airport or the one you printed out the form I-94 at the Department of Homeland Security website.  This card grants you permission to remain in the US while pursuing your degree as long as you maintain your nonimmigrant status. Your I-94 card will show the date of entry into the US and your status, i.e. F-1 or J-1. You will also notice the abbreviation “D/S” written on your I-94 card. "D/S” stands for “Duration of Status.” This means that your nonimmigrant status will remain valid while you pursue your degree as long as you maintain your status.

Please make photocopies of your visa, I-94 card, I-20, and passport and keep them in a safe place. Should your original documents be lost or stolen, they are easier to replace if you can provide copies.


OISSS encourages all international students who plan to travel to carry their original passport, I-94 card and I-20 or DS-2019 with them. The documents will clearly identify you as a student and provide immediate identification of your nationality. It is recommended that you obtain a notarized copy of an original passport and keep the copy in a safe location in case of loss of the original document.

While in the United States, students are encouraged to travel within Texas and other states during university break periods

  • By Air:  Air travel can be arranged by contacting a travel agent (listed in the Yellow Pages of the telephone book) that will make your flight arrangements free of charge to you.
  • By Bus: By bus, you can travel long and short distances relatively inexpensively. Check the Yellow Pages under "Bus Lines" for information. Inquire if they offer student discounts.
  • By rental car: If you wish to rent a car, you must have a U.S. driver's license and usually once credit card. Note that most rental agencies require the person renting the car to be at least 25 years of age. Rates can vary between rental companies-call and compare. You can find "Automobile Renting and Leasing" in the Yellow Pages of the telephone book.

Travel Abroad

To re-enter the US, or to apply for a new entry visa, please review the information below to make sure you prepare the necessary documentation.

  1. a valid and signed I-20 with a recent travel signature (less than six months old is recommended)
  2. a valid passport
  3. a valid F-1 visa *
  4. proof of registration (print out your class schedule)
  5. your TAMUK student ID card
  6. if you are applying for a new visa: original bank statements, a letter verifying your assistantship (if you have one), a letter from your sponsor (if you have one)
  7. if you have an F-2 dependent, they will need items a, b, c (F-2 visa) listed above
  8. For more information on travel outside of the US, visit the ICE website

  1. a valid and signed DS-2019 with a recent travel signature (less than six months old is recommended)
  2. a valid passport
  3. a valid J-1 visa *
  4. proof of registration (print out your class schedule)
  5. your TAMUK ID Card
  6. if you are applying for a new visa: original bank statements, a letter verifying your assistantship (if you have one), a letter from your sponsor (if you have one)
  7. if you have an J-2 dependent, they will need items a, b, c (J-2 visa) listed above

  1. a valid and signed I-20 with a recent travel signature (less than six months old is required while on OPT)
  2. a valid passport
  3. a valid F-1 visa *
  4. a valid EAD card
  5. proof of employment/job offer letter
  6. if you are applying for a new visa: original bank statements, a letter verifying your assistantship (if you have one), a letter from your sponsor (if you have one)
  7. if you have an F-2 dependent, they will need items a, b, c listed above
* If you are a citizen of Canada and hold a Canadian passport, an entry visa is not required to enter the US from Canada. 

  1. submit your I-20/DS-2019 to OISSS to request a travel signature
  2. there is a 2-3 business day processing time
  3. please inform OISSS if you will be applying for a new visa so we can verify that you will be taking the correct documents
  4. submit your request at least two weeks before you wish to travel
  5. a travel signature is valid for one year if you are a currently enrolled student, and six months for students on OPT or OPT Extension.

No I-20/DS-2019 signature endorsement is required for domestic travel.  However, for domestic travel we always recommend you bring your passport, DS-2019 or I-20 form, and I-94 Departure Record card with you to avoid any unnecessary confusion about your identity and/or reason for being in the U.S.  (Also, don’t forget to keep copies of all of your immigration documents in a safe place in case the originals should ever be lost.)  If you travel down south to the Mexico/US board, such the valley, you must bring your passport, visa, form I-20/DS-2019, I-94 with you.

An J-1 Scholar must obtain approval for travel away from Kingsville from your academic advisor and send the approval and travel itinerary to OISSS. Please send in completed, signed form OISSS-230.


An expired US entry visa is considered to be automatically extended to the date of re-entry as long as that visa has not been canceled, and that an application for a new visa has not been submitted. AVR is applicable to travel to Canada, Mexico, and the adjacent islands (excluding Cuba) for a period of less than 30 days.  Be sure to check the entry requirements of your destination country to determine if an entry visa for that country is required. 

  1. only travel for less than 30 days to the territory where AVR is applicable (travel to PR China via Canada does not qualify for AVR)
  2. citizens of Mexico must have a valid visa to re-enter from Mexico
  3. citizens of Iran, Syria, Sudan or Cuba may not take advantage of AVR

Obtaining a new visa: A visa to the US may only be obtained at a US Embassy or Consulate outside of the United States. When applying for a new visa, please contact the consulate you will visit to determine if an appointment is required, if you are eligible to apply for a visa at that location, what documentation is required for the application, and if you need an entry visa to visit the country where the US Embassy is located. You may find the websites of all US Embassies and Consulates by visiting: http://usembassy.gov.

Obtaining a US Visa in Canada or Mexico: You may be eligible to apply for a US Visa in Canada or Mexico. The locations of US Consulates in Canada include: Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa (embassy), Quebec City, Toronto, and Vancouver. The locations of US Consulates in Mexico include: Ciudad Juarez, Matamoros, and Tijuana.  Special note for Mexican Consulates: you can apply for a new visa of the same type in Mexico, but Mexican embassies no longer allow you to apply for a visa of a new type.  For example, an F-2 dependent can no longer go to Mexico to apply for a visa to change status from F-2 to F-1. 

You may schedule an appointment by telephone (a charge will be applied to your phone bill): 
1-900-443-3131 (from the US) 
1-900-451-2778 (from Canada)

For information on entry visas to Canada and Mexico, please contact the respective consulates of those countries:

Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Consulate General of Mexico in Atlanta