Travel Tips for International Students
What should I consider when I travel internationally?
- Contact your country’s consulate for any recent travel precautions or restrictions.
- View Travel Advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State.
- Request a Travel Signature from ISSS.
- Schedule an appointment with a DSO if you have any concerns about your status or international travel plans.
- Turn ON the International Traveler Setting in the Texas State Online Toolkit.
When traveling within the United States, be sure you have with you (not in your suitcase) these items:
- Passport valid at least 6 months into the future
- F-1 Visa
- Most recent I-20
- Governmental ID, if applicable (example: driver's license)
There is heightened security not only at all border crossings, Border Patrol interior checkpoints, but also at bus terminals, train terminals and airports throughout the United States. Police from different agencies are patrolling these areas and you may be stopped and questioned randomly.
A person without valid travel documents can be arrested, threatened with deportation and taken into ICE custody.
As an F-1 student, you are eligible to travel to Canada, Mexico or the contiguous islands and return back to the U.S. without a valid U.S. visa as long as you remain there for less than 30 days.
Note: You may need a visa to enter Mexico or Canada. Please check the respective government websites before arranging travel to neighboring countries.
Note: Citizens of Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea, and those from a State Sponsor of Terrorism designated country as listed by the U.S. Department of State will not be allowed to reenter the U.S. with an expired U.S. visa stamp, even if the trip is to a contiguous country.
To learn more, please see Automatic Visa Revalidation.
What documents do I need to take with me when I travel?
- Valid passport (with an expiration date 6 months after your return date to the US)
- Valid unexpired F-1 visa
- Most recent I-20 with a travel signature signed by a DSO within the last 6 months
- Drop off your most recent I-20 at ISSS for a travel signature.
- The following documents are not required but are recommended:
- Proof of financial support,
- Examples include: Personal bank statement, Research Assistant/Teaching Assistant verification letter that includes salary and tuition payment details, or sponsor’s letter and bank statement
- Proof of full-time enrollment (if traveling during the semester)
- An unofficial TXST transcript
- Documentation of approval to take a reduced course load, if applicable.
- Proof of financial support,
What documents do I need?
- Valid passport
- Valid F-1 visa. Do not use other types of US visas (i.e. tourist visa or visa waiver) if you plan to use OPT upon your return to the U.S.
- Valid OPT I-20 and a travel signature signed by a DSO within the last year (prefer within last 6 months)
- Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) from USCIS (required if OPT or STEM OPT is approved)
- Recommended but not required:
- Offer or Employment Letter from your employer that includes the dates of your employment, a description of your duties, your salary, location where you will be working, and number of hours of work per week. You should also be prepared to discuss how this job experience relates to your major field of study. If your employer is sponsoring you for a work visa, this information should not be included in your letter for travel while on OPT. Any mention of plans to change visa statuses could be interpreted as a misrepresentation of your intentions in the U.S. by a Port of Entry Officer.
The following information on laptop computer security is also applicable for other items of value such as briefcases and carry-on bags while you are in domestic or international travel status: Items left unattended for even a very brief period have become a premium target for theft. All travelers should remain on constant alert as they traverse through all airports.
Here are some common examples of methods used by thieves to separate you from your belongings.
- One method involved the use of security x-ray machines. The first thief precedes the traveler through the security checkpoint and then loiters around the area where the carry-on luggage had already been examined. When the traveler places his laptop computer or bag onto the conveyer belt of the x-ray machine, the second thief steps in front of the traveler and sets off the metal detector. While the traveler is being delayed, the first thief removes the traveler's laptop computer or bag from the conveyor belt just after it has gone through the x-ray machine and quickly disappears.
- Another method of theft can occur while the traveler is walking through a crowd of people in the airport terminal. The traveler, who may have a laptop computer or small bag on top of his or her roll bag, is preceded by the first thief. Just as the traveler gets around the crowd of people, the first thief stops abruptly, causing the traveler to stop abruptly. When they stop momentarily, a second thief, who had been following just behind them, quickly removes the traveler's laptop computer or small bag from the roll bag and disappears into the crowd.
All travelers, both international and domestic, are urged to be alert to the above methods used in stealing valuable items and always be mindful of any abrupt diversions during your travels. Report any losses immediately to the authorities. Keep serial numbers, make, and model information of your laptop computers, or of any items of value, separate from the item so you can give precise information to authorities if the items are stolen.
The Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP) is a single point of contact for individuals who have inquiries or seek resolution regarding difficulties they experienced during their travel screening at transportation hubs, such as airports or crossing US borders.
- watch list issues
- screening problems at ports of entry
- situations where travelers believe they have been unfairly or incorrectly delayed, denied boarding or identified for additional screening at our nation’s transportation hubs
When at the port of entry, to reach a DSO, ask the CBP agent to call Texas State University International Student and Scholar Services at 512-245-7966 or the University Police Department after hours (5pm CST M-F and weekends) at 512-245-2805.
Be sure to inform International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) that you are leaving Texas State University. The most common situations where students cease enrollment at Texas State University are the following:
- Departing the US: F-1 students who have completed their studies but have no plans to apply for Optional Practical Training, continue at Texas State or a new institution, or seek a change of status must depart the United States within 60 days of completion of their academic program.
- SEVIS Transfer: Student seeking to transfer out of Texas State and begin a degree at a new institution. See more on SEVIS transfer out. Your new institution is required to create you a new I-20.
- Change of Status: If you have been approved a change or adjustment of status submit your new status information using the Immigration Status Update Portal.
- Academic Withdraw: submit your withdraw request using the ISSS F-1 Student Withdraw Request.
Retain all your I-20s and related immigration documents. These documents represent your immigration history in the US and should be kept in a safe place as you would any important document.
In October 2020, any Bobcat traveling outside the United States, Canada, and Mexico must turn on a new travel notification in order to access Microsoft 365, including BobcatMail.
Texas State’s new International Traveler setting, accessed through the Online Toolkit, is aimed at protecting travelers’ university accounts. Most cases of compromised accounts come from an international source. The new travel setting will allow you to continue to access information in Microsoft 365 when you need it, from anywhere. Microsoft 365 is among the most important technologies available to Bobcats, and includes BobcatMail (Outlook), Teams, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, and more.
If you are going to be traveling outside the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, make sure you
- Go to the online toolkit before you travel
- Turn on your trip notification (similar to how you notify credit card companies about travel so you can continue using your cards on your trip).
On the online toolkit you will be able to manage your own account to determine when, and for how long, the international traveler setting should be active.