International students need a valid stamp in their passport to enter or re-enter the United States, aside from some exceptions for travel to Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island for less than 30 days. If your F-1 or J-1 entry visa has expired or will expire before you return, you must apply for a new visa at a US consulate abroad before you return. It is not possible to renew your visa from within the US. For visa wait times, please review information at the US Department of State.
You need these documents to re-enter:
- Valid, unexpired passport
- Valid, unexpired I-20 form for F-1 students, or valid, unexpired DS-2019 form for J-1 students, signed for travel by an IPS advisor within six months of your return date
- If you are an F-1 student on OPT after graduating, bring your EAD card and job offer letter
- Evidence of financial support (bring a copy of whatever funding is listed on your I-20 or DS-2019: graduate assistantship funding letter, personal bank statements, affidavit of financial support, etc.)
- Unofficial copy of Michigan Tech transcripts
- Proof of Enrollment for the next semester from Office of Student Records and Registration (if you are returning to complete your degree).
- Dependent I-20s or DS-2019s and passports.
- Travel letter from IPS that states you are maintaining your F-1 or J-1 student status at Michigan Tech.
Reasons for delays or denials:
- Security Clearances—Security checks increased due to heightened security concerns. There is no way to know for certain ahead of time whether a security check will delay you. We do know that students from certain countries, students with a criminal history, and students who studying highly technical or sensitive subjects are more likely to need a security advisory opinion (SAO) before they receive a visa. If your studies or research are in a field that may be of concern, ask your professor for a letter that briefly describes in layman's terms your specific area of study or research. It might help speed the process. If you have concerns or questions, or want to know if your country is under increased scrutiny, come to the IPS office to talk to us, or get more information from the US Department of State.
- Demonstrating Non-Immigrant Intent—You may be asked to prove that you intend to return
to your home country after you complete your studies.
Ways to prepare:
- Be ready to explain how you intend to use your degree or research at home.
- Keep copies of deeds to property you or your family own in your home country
- Provide bank statements for any accounts that you or your family maintain in your home country
- Bring a letter from the employer you will be working for when you return home.
- Interviews Required for Visa Applications—Most international students who apply for non-immigrant visa stamps will be interviewed. Not being interviewed is rare. Because of stricter laws it may take longer than expected—or longer than it did before—to get an appointment at the US consulate.