International travel by students and scholars in non-immigrant status requires planning and attention to detail. The most important thing is to make certain that you have all the required documents with your passport when you arrive back in the U.S.

Email Suffolk's International Student Services (ISSO) before you leave if you have any questions.

Travel Delays

Visa Delays

While all individuals applying for a U.S. visa are screened before the issuance of a visa, certain individuals may be subject to further screening or clearance, commonly know as Administrative Processing.

Issues that may trigger an Administrative Processing or security clearance delay include:

  • Inconsistent spelling of your name
  • Your name is similar to others in the consular lookout system requiring further investigation
  • Nature of research/study may be considered a "sensitive technology" requiring a security clearance
  • If you are from North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Sudan, Iran and Libya you will likely be subject to an additional security clearance process that can take several months

Security Advisory Opinion

If a security advisory opinion is requested by the Consulate (Administrative Processing) your visa will not be issued until the clearance is received from Washington D.C. On average this takes about 60 days, but can take longer. 

Travel Information

All international students, scholars, and family members planning to depart temporarily from the U.S. and return to the Suffolk area must have a valid passport in order to exit the U.S. The passport must also be valid for a minimum of six months into the future at the time of re-entry to the U.S.

Except for Canadian citizens, all international students, scholars and family members will also need to have a valid U.S. visa stamp in their passport specific to their current activities (teacher, student, researcher, etc.). If your current visa has expired, you will need to apply for a new visa while outside the U.S.

Remember to check your travel documents well in advance of your trip.

Travel Requirements by Visa Type

F-1 Students

Travel Requirements

  • Valid Form I-20 with ISSO signature on page 3

  • ISSO signature should be no older than 12 months

  • Valid F-1 visa

  • Valid passport

J-1 Students

Travel Requirements

  • Valid Form DS-2019 with ISSO signature at bottom of page one

  • ISSO signature should be no older than 12 months

  • Valid J-1 visa in the passport

  • Valid passport

J-1 Scholars

Travel Requirements

  • Valid Form DS-2019 with ISSO signature at bottom of page one

  • ISSO signature should be no older than 12 months

  • Valid J-1 visa in the passport

  • Valid passport

Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens are not required to have U.S. visas, but depending on their visa category, must have all the other documentation listed under the pertaining visa status. Without the proper documentation, Canadian citizens risk entering the U.S. as tourists and will therefore be prevented from work or study until they leave the U.S. and re-enter in the proper visa category. 

You are advised to carry your passport and immigration documents (your I-20 or DS-2019 form) with you when traveling in the U.S.; they will be required for a flight, but could also be requested on trips where you are traveling by car, train, or bus.

When considering travel to countries adjacent to the U.S., there are two questions to consider: Does your country of citizenship require a visa to enter that country, and will your U.S. immigration status allow you to return to the U.S.?

Visa to Enter Adjacent Countries

For citizens of some countries, you may need a visa to enter Canada, Mexico or the adjacent Caribbean islands. Please check the sites below to see if citizens of your home country are required to have a visa stamp to enter an adjacent country. If a visa is required you will need to prepare all of the materials and make your visa application directly with that country's consulate directly.

See a list of countries whose citizens require visas in order to enter Canada and Visa exempt countries.

Returning to the U.S. (After Visiting an Adjacent Country)

A majority of students and scholars in the U.S. do not need a new U.S. visa to return to the U.S. after visiting an adjacent country. Citizens of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Sudan are not eligible for this process known as Automatic Revalidation. The provision allows certain U.S. visa holders to re-enter the U.S. after a visit of less than 30 days to a "contiguous territory", (Canada, Mexico, and, in the case of F and J non-immigrants, the "adjacent islands other than Cuba") without having to obtain a new visa prior to re-entry. Students and scholars in F and J visa status who are maintaining lawful non-immigrant status in the U.S., and who travel to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean islands for 30 days or less, can re-enter the U.S. with the printed I-94 card, a valid passport, and a current form I-20 or DS-2019, (with valid travel signature) plus a previously-issued U.S. embassy visa stamp (which could be expired, or even in a different category than the I-94 if a change of status has been approved in the U.S.). Please speak to an advisor in ISSO if you have questions about this provision.

Automatic revalidation of visa does not apply if:

  • You apply for a new U.S. visa in Canada, Mexico or the adjacent islands. This means if you apply for a new visa you must wait until that visa is issued to return to the U.S.
  • You travel to any other country before returning to the U.S. from Canada or Mexico.
  • Applying for U.S. visa at a U.S. Consulate in an adjacent country

Thanks to the Automatic Revalidation procedure mentioned above, most students and scholars do not need to apply for a new visa stamp.