Traveling Abroad

Whenever a student plans to leave the U.S., they must consult with the International Student Adviser and either obtain new documents or have the current ones endorsed (signed) for travel at least one week before the travel date. Once signed by a Carleton official, the I-20 or DS-2019 is valid for one year from the date of the signature. Without these endorsed and signed documents by authorized Carleton official, a student may not be allowed to return to the United States.

Students should also remember that for re-entry they must have a valid visa, a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date that they will return, and proof of financial support from the school, their family, or both. A student or exchange visitor should apply for a new passport or extension at least 6 months before the expiration date. Please also review the Travel page from the U.S. government regarding what is needed for Entry and Re-Entry to the U.S.

If you need to apply for visa to travel to another country, please plan ahead and check the requirements.

Documents to Carry

  • Valid passport
  • Valid unexpired F-1 or J-1 entry visa affixed in the passport
  • Complete Form I-20 or DS-2019, signed by the authorized Carleton official within the last 12 months
  • Evidence of financial support
  • I-901 SEVIS fee receipt
  • Proof of enrollment/transcript

If the entry visa stamped in your passport has expired, then you must visit a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad and obtain a new entry visa before your return to the U.S. YOU CANNOT OBTAIN A NEW U.S. ENTRY VISA WITHIN THE UNITED STATES.

When you arrive at the port of entry to the United States, present your travel documents for inspection. The immigration inspector will issue you an electronic I-94 record and stamp your passport. 

Travel to and from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean

Travel to these destinations is handled a bit differently than travel to other countries. Airline officials do not take the passenger’s I-94 card before departure from the U.S. (as is done for departure to other countries.) but you must have the I-94 with you. In fact, you cannot enter Canada from the U.S. without a valid I-94 record and I-20 or DS-2019.

Students from certain countries may need a Canadian or Mexican entry visa to enter either country and should check with the appropriate embassy.

If you are taking a trip of fewer than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, or neighboring islands (Bermuda, Bahamas, and all Caribbean islands except Cuba), you may reenter the U.S. even if the F-1 or J-1 Entry Visa in your passport has expired. Please check with the International Student Advisor before departure for information on automatic visa revalidation

Domestic Travel

As an F-1 or J-1 student traveling domestically, you should be sure to carry proof of your status with you. We recommend that you bring your original passport, I-20, I-94 record, and Carleton ID card with you when traveling domestically. 

Special Registration

The Special Registration program is not currently active but be aware that it does exist. It is a system that lets the government keep track of non-immigrants that come to the U.S. every year. Some of the approximately 35 million non-immigrants will be required to register with immigration authorities either at a port of entry or a designated immigration office in accordance with special registration procedures, such as personal interviews and fingerprinting.

Males between the ages of 16 and 45 from the following countries are affected by special registration:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.  However, anyone can be required to “special register” by the Port of Entry official. 

Special registrants also have to register their departure from the U.S. Anyone who fails to do so may be denied reentry into the U.S. There are also specially designated “Ports of departure & entry.”