During their studies, students often inform us that they are going home to renew their visa…
Our response is always the following:
“Are you headed home to see friends and family and eat great food – AND while you are home, renew your visa at the same time? Or were you thinking that you needed to return home because your visa is about to or has recently expired?”
If the only reason a student is planning to return home is because they thought they needed to renew their visa, there is no need to return home.
A student’s visa is an entry document only. This means that as long as the student has a valid I-20 or DS-2019, it does not matter whether the visa has expired. They are completely okay to remain in the US with an expired visa.
There are times when students either want to return home for a visit or need to return home for a visit. If you are in this situation, you will need to meet with an international advisor to obtain a travel signature on either your I-20 or DS-2019.
Please schedule a time to stop in the office to have a brief meeting with an international student advisor.
During this meeting, we will accomplish the following:
1. Check to make sure you are currently maintaining your status
2. Sign your I-20 or DS-2019
3. Ask if your have a valid visa.
4. Ask if your passport is valid at least 6 months into the future.
If either your visa or your passport is expired (or your passport will expire in the next 6 months) you will need to renew these documents before you can board the plane or return to the US.
Once your I-20 or DS-2019 has been signed, you are all set to travel.
(Click on the above link to email us... or simply just stop into the office.)
What happens if you leave the country without having your I-20 or DS-2019 signed?
Great question! If this happens, we can still help!
If we have time, we can print and send a new I-20 or DS-2019 that has a travel signature on it. If you realize that you forgot to have it signed and you are about to return to the US, there is a process called the i515a process. When you arrive at the border, the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officer can refer you to secondary inspection and, upon review, provide you with a i515a for that will need to be processed by our office upon your return to campus. We strongly recommend that you have your I-20 or DS-2019 signed prior to leaving as the i515a process can cause travel delays and there is no guarantee that CBP will provide this option to you. They may refuse your entry at the border and you would need to return home and obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019 prior to coming back. As you can see, this could be a costly/timely situation.
* If you find yourself at home without having your I-20 or DS-2019 signed, please contact us and then click on the above link that will bring you to our online courier form. Once you have completed this form and paid the courier fee, we can send new documents to you.
Above any travel advice we could give you:
Should you choose to return home during your studies...
Travel safely and we wish you a wonderful time with your friends and family. Eat an "extra bite" (or plate) of your traditional cuisine for us! 😊