Travel and Visa Renewal

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International Student Services

Junggu Shin

Study Abroad, BATESL

South Korea

I found out about Hawai`i Pacific University while I was studying at Konkuk University, which was my school in Korea. I’ve always really wanted to study abroad and when I found out that my school had an agreement with HPU I was very interested. I chose HPU not only because its great location and weather; I was also impressed by the TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) program as I wanted to study different teaching approaches.


FAQ: Travel and Visa Issues

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, we have all become more concerned with immigration, travel and visa issues. We have compiled the following questions and answers to help students as they make travel plans or prepare to renew their visas. 

Q: If I am not completed with my studies, can I travel outside the United States?
A: Students may leave the United States and be readmitted after absences of five months or less. Upon your return to the United States, you should provide immigration inspectors with:
  • A valid passport.
  • A valid F-1 entry visa stamped in the passport.
  • A current SEVIS Form I-20 signed by the International Student Advisor on page 3 for re-entry.
  • A new SEVIS Form I-20 if there have been any changes in your course of study or place of study (i.e. change in major, change in program, change in name, any typographical errors, etc.)
  • Proof of your financial support.

When making your travel plans, please remember that you must be a full-time student to keep your F-1 student status. If you have any questions regarding travel issues, please make an appointment to see an International Student Advisor.

Q: If I am traveling to another state, do I need to have my I-20 signed before I leave?
A: You will need to receive a re-entry signature on page 3 of your SEVIS I-20 ONLY if you have traveled outside of the United States and re-entered with your SEVIS I-20. That signature can be obtained by visiting International Student Services at least 10 business days before you depart.
Q: How long is the re-entry signature on page 3 of my I-20 valid?
A: The re-entry signature is valid for 12 months while you are pursuing your studies full-time. However, once you are on OPT the signature will need to be updated after six (6) months.
Q: What documents should international students carry when they are traveling within the U.S.?
A: You should have your passport, I-20, and a student or state ID or driver’s license to show for identification. If applicable, you will want to use your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, too. Airlines/airports now require that you carry a government issued photo ID.
Q: Have there been any recent changes in visa issuances at U.S. consulates?
A: No new laws have been made, but you should expect that applications will now be going through an extensive screening process. Some embassies no longer offer "mail-in" services and will now only allow appointments to be scheduled to process applications. Some embassies have closed in certain countries. Delays can be expected to take six - eight weeks. Due to the delays, please allow yourself ample time for the application processing when planning to travel.

To find out how applications in your home country are being processed, access the U.S. Department of State Web site: www.state.govand select a particular consulate office. This site will also list travel advisory warnings, if any.

Q: What documents should a student have ready to show when they are applying for a visa renewal?
A: Students will need to go through the same process as if they are applying for a student visa for the first time.    

They will need:

  1. Unexpired passport
  2. SEVIS Form I-20 – endorsed by International Student Advisor on page 3
  3. Current financial support documents
  4. Recent transcripts
  5. Registration for the next available term
  6. **A verification of enrollment from the Registrar’s office or Center for Graduate Studies**

** Not required but suggested**

Transcripts are not usually required, but may help your application. The consulars would like you to prove that your visit to the U.S. is temporary, that you have no intention of abandoning your citizenship in your home country. They would also like to make sure that you are traveling to the U.S. for the purposes that you have indicated.

Q: What is a 3rd Country visa?
A: A 3rd Country visa is when you apply for a visa in a country other than your own. Because of political unrest, many countries are reluctant to take applications from citizens of other countries. Consulars may also be unaware of particular forms/laws applicable in your home country.


Q: Does the expiration date on a student visa determine how long the student can remain in the U.S.?
A: Although many people believe that the visa expiration date determines when they must depart the U.S., this is NOT true. The visa is used as an entry document to the U.S., accompanying your I-20 and passport. The expiration date on your visa determines the LAST DATE YOU MAY ENTER THE U.S. on that visa, along with other required documents. If your visa expires while you are still in the U.S. and studying full-time, maintaining your F-1 status, you are not in violation of status. However, if you leave the U.S. after that visa expires, you will be required to obtain a new visa before being allowed to re-enter the U.S.
Q: If my visa is expired, can I go to Mexico or Canada?
A: YES. If you are planning on visiting Mexico or Canada for less than 30 days, you can re-enter the U.S. with your expired visa. You can re-enter using the "Automatic Visa Revalidation" process. Show them your form I-94 card, passport, and visa, and you will be allowed to re-enter. International Student Services provides a letter of the process for students traveling. This letter can be picked up at the front desk in the Career Services Center. If you plan to try to apply for a new visa during your visit and you are denied, you will not be allowed to re-entry by "Automatic Visa Revalidation" process, you will have to return home and apply for a new visa.


Q: How do I find out my authorized period to stay in the U.S.?
A: The white form I-94 card, usually stapled next to your visa, will have a stamp on it. The stamp should say, "F-1, D/S." D/S means "Duration of Status," or while you are studying full-time. As long as you are fulfilling your F-1 requirements, you are in the U.S. legally.