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Depending upon your circumstances, your procedure for leaving the US may be different. Review the information in the section below that applies to your situation.

You can read additional information about travel on an F visa on the US Department of Homeland Security website linked here


Travel documents

Recommended documents to carry when travelling internationally. Only show documents requested.

I-94 Arrival/Departure Card

Entering the US after May 21, 2013 by air or sea port means your I-94 is electronic and you do not need to do anything.

Entering the US by a land port or before April 26, 2011, surrender your paper I-94 card at the point of departure from the US (unless traveling to Canada or Mexico)

Passport valid at least six months into the future

Form I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature.

Travel signatures are valid for one year from the date of the signature on page 2.

Students on OPT or OPT STEM Extension - your travel signature is only valid for 6 months.

Valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in passport

Financial Documentation (bank statement, scholarship/assistantship letter)

Proof of enrollment (transcript, printout of current enrollment, and next semester’s enrollment, if available)

Renewing a student visa

You cannot renew your student visa stamp in the US. Except in rare cases, you must have a valid visa to reenter the US. It is not guaranteed that the US consulate will renew your visa. If your visa application is denied, you cannot return to the US. 

Visa applicants should note the following:

  • Applicants are subject to security clearances that may take several months. Background checks can result from arrests in the US, field of study, country of origin, or other factors.
  • If you need a visa and will be traveling on a short trip, remember, you may encounter visa processing delays.
  • Appointments are required for almost all non-immigrant visa applications. Check the Department of State website for processing times at the US consulate where you plan to apply.
  • Graduate students, professors and research scholars who are deemed to be studying certain “sensitive areas of study” may be subject to a security review. 
  •  If you are out of status and will be traveling outside of the US, you must speak with an OU international advisor before you leave the US to make certain you have the required documents for reinstatement through reentry.

Study abroad

It is important to remember that while you are on an OU Study Abroad program you are still an OU F-1 student and your SEVIS record will be maintained by OU ISS office.

Please complete the online Study Abroad form to inform ISS of the details of your study abroad experience.

Applying for a visa to a different country

If you plan to travel outside the US to a country that is not your home country, it is your responsibility to check the visa requirements for that country.

If you will need to apply for a visa to that country, review their visa application requirements carefully. Some countries require that you have a travel signature on your OU I-20 at the time of your visa appointment, even if your travel and reentry to the US are in the future.

Authorized Early Withdrawal

Want to depart the US prior to completing your program? Complete the Departure Form. Departing the US without completing this form could result in a termination of status for Failure to Enroll.

If you plan to return to the US to resume your OU program at a later date, please discuss your plans with your ISS advisor.

Automatic Visa Revalidation

For most students, travel to a country that is contiguous to the US (Mexico, Canada, St. Pierre, Miquelon, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, Jamaica, Winward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Martinique) with an intended stay of less than 30 days (not applying for a new visa) may return to the US on an expired visa. This process is known as automatic visa revalidation.

If you travel to Canada or Mexico, you may need a visa to enter that country.

For more information and retrictions, visit

If you plan to use automatic revalidation, our office recommends that you carefully read the information at the US State Department link above and print the page to carry with you when you travel.

Departure upon completion of studies

After you have completed your program, you have a grace period within which to depart the US. If you remain in the US after the end of your grace period following the end of your program, you will be unlawfully present in the US. Being unlawfully present in the US could make you subject to removal and future bars from entering the US, even if you qualify later for a new US visa through study, work, or marriage. Submit a Departure Form to prior to leaving OU.

If you wish to remain in the US lawfully, you must do one of the following:

  1. Apply to the USCIS for a change of visa status before the end of your grace period
  2. Be accepted into a new degree-seeking program and receive a new I-20 before the end of your grace period
  3. Depart the US prior to the end of your grace period.

If you wish to remain in the US lawfully, you must do one of the following:

  1. Depart the US prior to the end of your grace period.
  2. Apply to the USCIS for a change of visa status before the end of your grace period

Travel after graduation while on Optional Practical Training

If you plan to travel outside of the US and then return for Optional Practical Training (OPT), we recommend you carry:

  1. Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card from USCIS
  2. Proof of employment
    • This can be a letter from your employer on company letterhead stating they know your dates of travel and expect you to return to work after your travel
    •  If you are not yet employed, have proof that you are actively seeking employment (proof of resumes sent, rejection notices from companies, and so on.) If you do not have a job, you may not be permitted to reenter the US.
  3. I-20 signed for travel
  4. Passport valid at least six month into the future
  5. Valid student visa