The following is excerpted from various DHS websites

READ ALL OF THE FOLLOWING—You and you alone are responsible for maintaining your immigration status and for exiting and entering the USA correctly.

Departing the USA: Make sure that the airline is aware of the I-94 you received when you entered the USA last. If they do not take it, then retain the uncollected I-94 card and contact ISS after your return. Retain all old I-94’s, if they are not collected upon departure from the USA. Retain any USA-VISIT receipt that you may issued to you upon entry or departure (put them in your IS Document Archive).

Re-entering the USA: The basic requirements for a student in F-1 immigration status to re-enter the USA after traveling abroad on pleasure or personal business are the following:

  • A SEVIS Form I-20, endorsed for travel and signed by Darrell every semester (every 6 months when on post-completion OPT).
  • A current passport valid for at least six months after the date of your re-entry or, if you are from one of the countries that has a special treaty with the USA, then a passport that is current through the date of entry. Please make sure that your passport is valid!
  • An F visa—current and valid. If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico or other contiguous or adjacent countries for less than a 30-day period, then you MAY be able to re-enter on an expired visa—please see Darrell if you have questions well before your planned travel date.
  • Completed, new I-94 Forms (unless returning from Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands). Usually completed on aircraft just prior to landing at the US port-of-entry.
  • Completed CF-6059 Customs Declaration Form. Please be aware of the requirements on the importation of cash and other monetary instruments. From the DHS CBP web site: “if you transport or cause to be transported (including by mail or other means) more than $10,000 in negotiable monetary instruments on any occasion into or out of the United States or if you receive more than $10,000, you must file a Report of International Transportation of International Currency or Monetary Instruments (FinCen 105) with U.S. Customs and Border Protection... Failure to comply can result in civil and criminal penalties, including seizure of the currency or monetary instruments. Monetary instruments include U.S. or foreign coin, currency, travelers’ checks, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form.”
  • Additionally, you must carry with you and be prepared to present the following if asked: (1) Your SEVIS fee receipt (Form I-901). (2) Updated financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses. Thus, please make sure that you have a copy of your scholarship letter and an updated Declaration and Certification of Finances form with bank statement(s). (3) Proof of enrollment. Screen shots of your JCX course registration for the next semester and of your current transcript should do.  (4) Employment Authorization Card, if you have been issued one. (5) If on OPT, job offer letter or other proof of employment.
  • If you are subject to the terms of the NSEERS (that is, if you are a “special registrant”), please make sure you plan for BOTH departure and re-entry screening.
  • Please remember: Call my cell—at any time—if you have a problem.

The Following is excerpted from the DHS, Customs and Border Protection website


Careful planning and preparation by students and exchange visitors can ensure that the[re will not be an unnecessary] delay [at a port-of-entry].... If you are a non-immigrant student ..., here are some things you should do:

  • Before leaving your country, confirm that your passport and non-immigrant visa are still valid for entry into the United States. The passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay.
  • Check to see that your visa accurately reflects your correct visa classification.  If the visa states the name of the institution you will attend or identifies the exchange program in which you are participating, verify that this information is accurate as well. If your review indicates any discrepancies or potential problems, visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to obtain a new visa.
  • Students ... entering the United States for the first time under their respective non-immigrant visa classification may only be admitted up to 30-days prior to the program start date.
  • When you receive your U.S. non-immigrant visa at the Embassy or Consulate in your country, the consular officer will seal your immigration documents in an envelope and attach it to your passport. You should not open this envelope! The CBP Officer at the U.S. port–of-entry will open the envelope.
  • When you travel, you should carry some specific documents on your person. Do not check them in your baggage! If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will not be able to show the documents to the CBP Officer and, as a result, may not be able to enter the United States.


  • Passport (including attached envelope of immigration documents) with non-immigrant visa;
  • SEVIS Form I-20AB; 
  • Visa exempt nationals presenting a SEVIS Form I-20AB issued on or after September 1, 2004, who are entering the United States for the first time should have a Form I-797, Receipt Notice or Internet Receipt verifying SEVIS Fee payment. For additional SEVP/SEVIS Program Information, refer to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website at
  • Evidence of financial resources;
  • In addition, it is recommended that you also carry the following documents:
    • 1. Evidence of student status (recent tuition receipts, transcripts);
    • 2. Name and contact information for Designated School Official (DSO) at your intended school or program;
    • 3. Pen or pencil.

If you are traveling by aircraft, the flight attendants on board will distribute CF-6059 Customs Declaration Forms and Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record for immigration, before you land at your initial point-of-entry in the U.S. Complete these forms while you are on the aircraft and submit them to the appropriate CBP Officer upon your arrival. If you do not understand a form, ask the flight attendant for assistance. Upon arrival at the port-of- entry, proceed to the terminal area for arriving passengers for inspection. As you approach the inspection station, ensure that you have: passport, SEVIS Form I-20 ..., completed Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record and, CF-6059 Customs Declaration Form available for presentation to the CBP Officer. The Form I-94 should reflect the [physical] address where you will reside (not the address of the school or program sponsor).

If you are entering through a land or designated seaport, the CBP Officer will provide the necessary CF-6059, Customs Declaration Form and Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record at the port-of-entry. If you do not understand a form, ask the CBP Officer for assistance.

Like all entering visitors, you will be asked to state the reason you wish to enter the United States. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell the CBP Officer that you will be a student or exchange visitor. Be prepared to include the name and address of the school or exchange visitor program where you will enroll/participate. If you are authorized for OPT (optional practical training), this should be reflected on page 3 of your SEVIS Form.

Once your inspection is complete, the inspecting officer will:

  • Stamp your SEVIS Form for duration of status (“D/S”) for F visa holders
  • Stamp the Form I-94 and staple it in the passport
  • Return the SEVIS Form.


If the inspector cannot automatically verify your information or you do not have all of the required documentation, you may be escorted to an interview area know as “secondary inspection.” Secondary inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research in order to verify information. Verifications are done apart from the primary inspection lines so that an individual case will not cause delays for other arriving passengers.

It is recommended that you have readily available the name and phone number of the international student advisor at your school…in case your admission/participation needs to be verified. In the event you arrive during non-business hours (evenings, weekends, holidays), you should have a phone number where this individual can be reached during non-business hours. (Darrell’s cell +1-614-579-5398.)

Failure to provide proper documentation and to comply with entry/exit procedures is cause to refuse the student or exchange visitor admission into the United States. In limited circumstances, if a student or exchange visitor is mostly, but not fully in compliance, he/she may be issued a Form I-515A, Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor. This form authorizes temporary admission for 30 days into the United States and requires the student or exchange visitor to take immediate action to submit proper documentation. Noncompliance with the directions contained on these forms can result in future adverse action.


Continuing students who are going to travel outside of the United States must see their foreign student advisor and obtain an endorsement from the DSO.... The endorsement will be made on page 3 of the SEVIS Form I-20.... When returning to the United States, a continuing student/exchange visitor must present a valid SEVIS Form I-20...with the DSO... signature showing that the student is active and in good standing with the school or program.