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Traveling Inside and Outside the US

While you are studying at the University of Tennessee you may want to travel inside or outside the United States, such as:

  • to return to your home country over winter or summer break.
  • to explore another state or country on spring break.

But, before you pack your suitcase, there are some steps you need to take to make sure you maintain your F-1 status.

1. Traveling Inside the US

While in Knoxville and the surrounding area, students should keep their documents in a safe and secure place. If traveling outside of Knoxville, students should take all original immigration documents and their passport with them. Students should have an electronic copy of their immigration documents on their phone or mobile device. It is also a good idea to keep a paper copy and make it accessible to a trusted friend or roommate in case of an emergency or in the event that original documents are lost or stolen.

2. Traveling Outside the US

In order to re-enter the US, students must submit all valid immigration documents at the port of entry.

Required Documents

  • Valid passport (must have six-month future validity at time of re-entry to the US or at time of visa application)
  • Valid student/dependent visa (must be unexpired on date of re-entry)
  • Current, valid I-20/DS-2019 with a valid signature from ISSS, with the correct up-to-date information
    • A travel authorization signature, which is valid for up to 12 months.

Note: Students on authorized post-completion OPT must be eligible for re-entry according to OPT rules, and must be carrying all of the following documents:

  1. A valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  2. A current employment/offer letter
  3. An I-20 with travel authorization signature on page 2 that is no older than six months. Travel signatures for OPT students are valid only for six months.

Students who must travel, but whose OPT application is still pending with USCIS, may use their Receipt Notice as a supporting document for re-entry. ISSS recommends that students consult with an ISSS advisor before traveling.

Dependents must carry their own original documents. If traveling separately, ISSS recommends that dependents carry copies of the primary visa holder’s documents.

How to request a travel signature from ISSS

A student who needs a new travel signature should submit a Travel Authorization Request in the iVols portal as early as possible, and at least two weeks prior to traveling. Click here for more information on how to request a travel signature.