Students Traveling During the Holidays

December 11, 2019

Philadelphia immigration lawyers help international students remain F-1 visa compliant while traveling for the holidays.International students in this country on the F-1 visa are permitted to travel both domestically and internationally under current United States immigration regulations. However, there are important policies and procedures students must follow to remain compliant with the terms of their visa and protect their right to study in this country. The following is vital information about traveling abroad on a student visa during the holidays.

Notifying Your Academic Institution of Your Travel Plans

If you have plans to travel outside of the United States over the winter break, you must notify your Designated School Official (DSO). During your meeting, you will verify your record in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is accurate and current. At this time, you can also discuss what documents you need to travel with and what to expect when leaving and re-entering the country. Be sure to take down your DSO’s contact information, including an emergency number in case you encounter any issues during your trip.

Documents You Should Travel With

As a student with clearance to study in the United States, you need to verify your status when you re-enter the U.S. at port of entry. A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer conducts a primary inspection at this time, where they will ask questions about your travel plans and review your essential documents:

  • Form I-20: Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status
  • Passport
  • Student visa

Also recommended, but not required to re-enter the United States, is a bank statement or letter from your sponsor to verify your financial resources, as well as evidence of your student status, such as a transcript or class schedule. Philadelphia immigration lawyers recommend carrying these documents in your carry-on luggage when flying.

Form I-515A: Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor

If upon your arrival at a United States port of entry the CBP officer finds any issues with your documentation or SEVIS records, they may issue you Form I-515A. This gives you permission to enter the United States for 30 days while you resolve any outstanding immigration issues with the assistance of your DSO and immigration lawyer. The hold-up may be something as simple as a missed SEVIS payment. Yet, if you do not resolve the issue within 30 days of your entry date, your SEVIS status will be automatically terminated, potentially costing you the ability to remain in this country.

It should be noted that students in this country on the F-1 visa are expected to vacation during scheduled term breaks. Requests to travel while school is in session are generally denied, unless for exceptional circumstances, such as a family member’s serious illness or passing.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC Help International Students Remain F-1 Visa Compliant

Our Philadelphia immigration lawyers at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC advocate for students and other individuals seeking to live, work, and study in the United States. We are available to answer any questions you may have about your status and resolve your complex immigration matters as effectively as possible. Call us at 215-496-0690 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, we represent clients throughout the tri-state area, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.