We strongly recommend you bring certain documents with you when you travel within the U.S. or internationally during your time as an Illinois State student.
If you stay within the U.S. and its territories (this includes Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), you should carry your immigration documents with you as proof of your valid status.
ISSS encourages all international students to notify their International Advisor prior to any international travel by emailing your travel destination and dates to InternationalStudents@IllinoisState.edu.
All students or scholars traveling abroad should verify they have all the necessary documentation for re-entry prior to departure. Many common questions regarding F-1 travel and re-entry procedures can be answered by visiting F-1 Travel FAQ. If you have further questions or concerns regarding travel abroad, you may discuss them with your International Advisor during walk-in hours.
Be sure to carry your immigration documents with you rather than putting them away in your checked luggage. You must be able to show your papers quickly at various points during your trip. It is recommended that you carry the following documents with you when traveling abroad:
F-1/J-1 students and scholars should carry the same documents for travel abroad (listed above). The only difference is that your F-1/J-1 visa can be expired if you are eligible for automatic visa revalidation.
You are eligible for automatic visa revalidation if ALL of the below are true:
Any time you travel to a country that is not your country of citizenship, you should check whether you need a visa to enter or transit through that country.
List of adjacent islands:
If you will be traveling abroad for more than just a few days in the middle of the fall/spring semester and not during one of the normal school breaks, ISSS recommends that you request a letter from your academic department:
You should carry this letter with you while you are traveling, along with all the other documents for travel abroad (listed above).
When arriving in the United States and going through Customs and Border Protection (CBP), you will show the CBP officer your I-20 form and passport. The Study in the States website contains general information regarding Getting to the United States. If you are given permission to enter the United States, the inspector will stamp your passport. An arrival/departure record (referred to as an I-94 record) will also be automatically created for you.
Watch the CBP's You've Arrived video for a general overview of the arrival process.
F-1 and J-1 students and scholars should printout their I-94 record after every re-entry into the US. Even though you have been granted an F-1/J-1 visa in your passport, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer has the authority to deny or grant you entry into the US. Your I-94 printout serves as proof of the status you were granted admission on and the length of time you are permitted to stay in the U.S.
Print and review your I-94 information after every re-entry to make sure your were admitted in F-1/J-1 status and for "D/S" which stands for "Duration of Status." This means that you are allowed to stay in the U.S. as long as you continue to maintain your status. If any information is incorrect on your I-94, please contact ISSS immediately.
CBP's I-94 site only provides travel records for the past five years. If you believe you will need to reference your form I-94 for a period longer than 5 years from the date of admission, you will need to print a copy of the document prior to this deadline. ISSS highly recommends the form I-94 be printed after every arrival as it can be used as evidence of a lawful admission.
If you attempt to retrieve your I-94 record online and it is "Not Found", see the tips listed on the CBP INFO Center website.
If you find an error on your I-94, you should contact the nearest CBP Deferred Inspection Site to have it corrected. Practices vary from location to location, so make sure to contact the site before arriving.
Some deferred inspection sites have email addresses for I-94 Correction Requests. Most ISU international students should contact the Chicago Deferred Inspection Site by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you email the site, please make sure to include the following information in your email:
According to the FAQ section of the I-94 website, the Travel History information on your I-94 comes from a variety of sources, and so may not always appear accurate. For more information, visit the CPB INFO Center. CBP's I-94 site only provides travel records for the past five years.
If you are missing any of the required documentation for entry into the U.S. or the border officer cannot verify your information, you may be brought to an interview area known as "secondary inspection." It is important that you have the phone numbers for ISSS in case an International Advisor at ISU needs to be contacted in order to verify your valid F-1/J-1 status.
If you are continuously sent to secondary inspection or are experiencing other problems at US ports of entry, you can submit an inquiry through DHS TRIP.
If an F-1/J-1 student or scholar has most but not all of the documentation required at the border, the officer may choose to issue a Form I-515A . This form gives the student temporary admission into the U.S. for 30 days. During that time, the student/scholar must submit the missing documentation to SEVP in order for their admission to be extended.
If you receive a Form I-515A, contact ISSS immediately after your arrival and schedule an appointment to meet with an International Advisor.