With spring break right around the corner, more than 1.5 million college students in the United States will flock to popular hot-spot destinations like Cancun, Montego Bay, Panama City and more. Among these traveling college students will certainly be international students, as there are currently more than 1.11 million attending college in the United States. In order to make spring break travel a smooth experience, it’s important for international students to keep certain requirements in mind. Here are some helpful tips to remember when leaving and returning to the U.S.:
1. Get your Form I-20 signed. Before leaving for break, make sure you have a valid, signed Form I-20, which indicates that you are actively enrolled at a U.S. school. When traveling you will be required to present this form to verify that you are indeed an international student. Be sure to check with your designated school official that your Form I-20 will still be valid upon re-entry to the U.S.
2. Check your passport. All international students must have a valid passport in order to depart and return to the U.S. If your passport is slated to expire soon, make an appointment to obtain a new one. This can typically be done through your home country’s diplomatic office in the U.S. International students with an expired or soon to be expired passport may experience trouble when re-entering the U.S.
3. Prepare for re-entry. Before international students can study in the U.S., they must demonstrate their financial ability to pay for school tuition and living expenses during their visa interview. On some occasions, you may also be asked to present this same information when returning to the U.S.
Additionally, you may also be asked to present evidence of acceptance to a U.S. school upon re-entering. An acceptance letter or recent tuition payment receipt would be an acceptable form of evidence.
4. Have your paperwork handy when traveling. Be sure to have all of these documents readily available, not packed away in your luggage. It may also be helpful to have the name and contact information of a designated school official handy in case there are any issues.
If a student arrives without the required documentation, he or she may be denied entry to the United States or the border officer may issue a Form I-515A, “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor.” This form allows international students to enter the U.S., but under the condition that they submit the required paperwork to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program within 30 days of entry.
Planning ahead and being prepared can help make your spring break trip and return to the U.S. a seamless process. If you are a foreign national and have questions on traveling or applying for a U.S. immigration benefit, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!