Travel with your Student Visa
Whether you want to return to your home country over summer break, explore Mexico or Canada on spring break, or participate in a study abroad program, chances are you may want to travel inside and outside the U.S. while studying at CSUMB. Before you pack your luggage, there are some steps you need to take to protect your status.
Travel within the U.S.
You and your dependents may be surprised to learn that federal law requires that you carry "registration" documents at all times. If you are traveling by air, train, bus, or ship, you may be required to show these documents before boarding. This includes basic identity documents such as:
- Passport with visa stamp
- Your current I-20/DS-2019
- I-94 Admission Record
For day-to-day purposes, we suggest you keep these documents in a secure location. Keep photocopies of all your documents in a separate location, in the event your documents are lost or stolen.
Travel outside of the U.S.
Before you leave the United States, contact the consulate of the country to be visited to inquire about visa and travel procedures. If you plan to visit Canada, contact a Canadian Consulate to determine if you need a visa to enter Canada.
Each country has its own agreement for entry with other countries, so it is important to note that your requirements for entry may not be the same as your friend's requirements. It's always important to check with the consulate directly for country specific information.
For the latest travel advisories, visit the U.S. Department of State’s website.
Before you leave the country, make sure you have a valid travel signature from a DSO/ARO at the International Programs Office on page 2 of your I-20 or page 1 of your DS-2019. You will not be able to re-enter the United States without one.
To get a travel signature, we recommend that you make a request at least three weeks before you plan to travel. Travel signatures are valid for one calendar year, or until the completion of your program, whichever comes first.
Please note that you need a travel signature even if you are just traveling across the border into Canada or Mexico.
If there have been any changes in your situation (for example, if you have changed your major, degree level, or source(s) of financial support) that are not indicated on your current I-20 or DS-2019, you will need to get a new one before departure.
For changes in major or source(s) of funding or change in degree level, contact the International Programs office or schedule an appointment. Timing can be critical for all of these changes, so start the process early.
The following require your immediate attention:
- Degree level changes
- Major changes
- I-20/DS-2019 expiration
In most cases, updated financial documentation will be required to process your new I-20 or DS-2019.
Check your completion date on your I-20 or DS-2019 to see whether it is about to expire. If it expires while you are outside the U.S., you will not be able to re-enter the U.S.
If your I-20/DS-2019 is about to expire and you have not yet completed your program, you will need to contact the International Programs office or schedule an appointment for an extension. If your extension is approved, a new I-20/DS-2019 will be printed and signed for travel.
Updated financial documentation may be required to process your new I-20/DS-2019.
If your student visa is expired and you leave the country, you must apply for a new visa to re-enter the U.S. You cannot apply for a new visa while in the United States.
We strongly advise you to carry the following documents with you when applying for a new visa at a U.S. consulate abroad:
- Official CSUMB Transcript
- CSUMB Enrollment verification
- Valid I-20/DS-2019 issued and signed by the International Programs office
- Current financial documentation: documents indicating the source(s) and amount(s) of financial support for your study in the current academic year. This must match the information listed on your I-20/DS-2019.
See also the U.S. Department of State’s website on information for nonimmigrants present in the United States, and visiting Canada or Mexico.
Visit the U.S. Customs Immigration Travel page for the most up to date travel information and answers to frequently asked questions! As always, you should also feel free to contact the International Programs office or schedule an appointment.