Travel Within the US

You may travel freely within the United States including Alaska, Hawaii, and US territories while you are in valid immigration status. You should have the following documents with you when traveling outside the Rochester area:

  • Form I-20 or DS-2019 issued by RIT
  • Unexpired passport valid for the next six months
  • US visa

Travel Outside the US

You may leave the United States and return at any time during your program, provided you are still in valid immigration status when you return and you have been absent from the country for less than five months.

Documents Required for Re-Entry to the US

  • Current form I-20 or DS-2019 issued by RIT with valid travel signature
  • Unexpired passport valid for the next six months
  • Unexpired F or J visa

Travel Signatures

Travel signatures acknowledge that you are maintaining your status at RIT. The signature appears on page 2 of the I-20, and page 1 of the DS-2019. For F-1 students prior to graduation, and for all J-1 exchange visitors, travel signatures are valid for 1 year. If you are on F-1 OPT, the travel signature on your I-20 is valid for six months. We recommend current students obtain a new travel signature each academic year.

ISS advisors provide a new travel signature on each I-20/DS-2019 they issue to you. Check your most recently issued I-20/DS-2019. If the travel signature will be valid at the time you reenter the US, you do not need to request a new signature. If the most recent travel signature will be expired at the time you reenter the US, please submit a Travel Signature Request Form to and an advisor will email you an updated I-20 with a new travel signature. DS-2019s will be available for pick-up in ISS or can be mailed to you.

Travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean

If you are traveling directly to and from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean* (except Cuba) for fewer than thirty days, you may return to the US with an expired F or J visa in your passport, using Automatic Revalidation.

To qualify for this privilege, you must:

  • Be in lawful F-1 or J-1 Status.
  • Have a current I-20 or DS-2019 with a valid travel signature.
  • Have a passport valid at least six months into the future on the day you return to the US
  • Travel only to one of the destinations named above and for fewer than thirty days. For example, you cannot use automatic revalidation to enter Canada, depart to another country, return to Canada, and then return to the US within 30 days.
  • Not apply for a US visa while in Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. If you apply for a US entry visa during your visit to one of these destinations, you must wait for it to be issued before you return. If your visa application is denied by the American consulate, you are not allowed to use automatic revalidation to return to the US. You will be required to travel to your country of citizenship to apply for a new visa.
  • Have a F-1 or J-1 (expired or valid) visa in your passport or an approval notice for change of status to F-1 or J-1 and the invalid visa of your previous non-immigrant status in your passport.
  • Be a citizen of a country other than Syria, Iran, Sudan, North Korea or Cuba. Nationals of these countries are not eligible for visa revalidation. If you are a national of one of these countries, you must always have a valid visa in your passport to enter the United States.

*Adjacent Islands include: Saint Pierre, Miquelon, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea.

If you plan to re-enter the US using automatic revalidation, please consult with an ISS advisor before you go to make sure your documents are in order.

Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands

You do not need a valid visa to visit Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands. You will need a valid Form I-20 or DS-2019 and a valid unexpired Form I-94. Be sure that you do not have a terminated SEVIS record indicating that you are out of status.

Obtaining a New Visa

Your visa in your passport must be valid when you seek entry to the US. Once you are in the US, it is fine for your visa to expire so long as your I-20 or DS-2019 is valid. If your visa has expired and your travel does not qualify for visa revalidation, you must apply for a new visa at an American consulate before re-entering the US. Visas can only be issued outside the United States. We recommend that you apply for the new visa in your home country.

If you are unable to return to your home country and need to travel to a third country, it may be possible to apply for a visa there. In this case, we recommend that you talk to an ISS advisor first and that you contact the US consulate in the country where you will be traveling in order to confirm that they will review your application. It is possible they would refuse to do so and ask you to travel to your home country. 

A list of visa appointment wait times is available on the Department of State website. You should also be prepared for possible delays in visa processing.

Documents Required

  • Passport
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • financial documentation
  • proof of full-time enrollment
  • any other documents requested by the consulate

Canadian Visas

To find out if you need a visitor's visa to enter Canada, please check to see if your country is on the list.

How to apply

Those from certain countries may require an online application, followed by a trip to an ASC (Application Support Center) for photographs and fingerprints (biometrics).

Travel for Canadian Students

Canadian citizens do not require an entry visa to enter the US from Canada.

Documents Required for Re-Entry to the US

  • Passport
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Financial documentation

Those entering the US to study should request F-1 or J-1 status at the border. You must always show the Form I-20 or DS-2019 and supporting financial documentation to the immigration inspector at the port of entry. Be sure to check your I-94 record after you arrive in the US to ensure that the I-94 record was properly notated with F-1, D/S or J-1, D/S.

Check your I-94 record