Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Travel Instructions

General Travel Instructions for F-1 Students

If you are planning to travel outside of the United States and wish to re-enter the country in F-1 status, follow the instructions below:

  • Make sure your passport and visa are valid.
  • You must have a valid I-20 form with a valid travel endorsement from the International Student Services staff at Franklin & Marshall. Please note that your I-20 is INVALID if your SEVIS record has been terminated. Travel endorsements are valid for one year, except if you are on OPT (see below for more information on traveling when on OPT).  
  • If you will be outside the U.S. for 5 months or more, you are required to apply for and obtain a new I-20 form and F-1 visa in order to return to the U.S. in F-1 status.  The exception is if you are outside of the U.S. for more than 5 months studying abroad through one of our approved programs.  In this case you will not need a new I-20 and F-1 visa.
  • Automatic Visa Revalidation (AVR): If you are traveling to Mexico, Canada or one of the adjacent islands, you do not need a valid   F-1 visa in order to re-enter the United States as long as you return within 30 days and are carrying a valid I-20.  You would also need to retain your I-94 for re-entry.

Definition of AVR: Your expired U.S. entry visa is considered to be automatically extended to the date of reentry provided that the visa has not been cancelled, and you have not applied for a new visa.  To take advantage of AVR your travel must be to contiguous/adjacent entities for less than 30 days.

The adjacent islands include:  Saint Pierre, Miquelon, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territory of possession in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea.

If you are currently out of status and your F-1 visa has expired, you are not eligible for automatic visa revalidation.

Travel while on Post-Completion Practical Training (OPT)

If you are traveling while on Optional Practical Training you will need the following documentation to re-enter the US:

  • An I-20 Form endorsed within the last 6 months by a Designated School Official.
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  • Letter from your employer verifying the job to which you are returning 
  • Valid F-1 visa.
  • Valid passport.

If you are traveling while your OPT application is pending, you will need the following documentation:

  • An I-20 Form endorsed within the last 6 months by a Designated School Official.
  • Your official USCIS receipt documenting your application for OPT.
  • Valid F-1 visa.
  • Valid passport.

For more information and advice on how to avoid complications, please visit the Office of International Programs before leaving the United States. 

Travel while on Severe Economic Hardship

If you have been authorized for economic need work permission, you must see your International Student Advisor before leaving the United States. Travel during that time is not recommended.

Travel to Puerto Rico, Hawaii, or the U.S. Virgin Islands

  • A valid I-20 Form endorsed within the last 12 months by a Designated School Official.  (If you are on OPT, the signature should be no older than 6 months.)
  • Valid passport.