Travel Information

On this page, you will find information related to travelling internationally during and after your program of study, including:

Current Travel Issues

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic, there are certain requirements and restrictions on travel to the United States. We will do our best to maintain information about these issues in this section.

COVID Testing Requirements

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a requirement that all travelers to the U.S. traveling after January 26, 2021, must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result prior to boarding their flight. The test result must be no more than 3 days old at the time the traveler boards their flight. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 may present an attestation from their healthcare provider or public health official stating that they are cleared for travel.

This requirement applies to all travelers over the age of 2, including U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents. Airlines carrying passengers to the U.S. are responsible for enforcing this requirement.

You can visit the CDC's website for helpful information about the new order, including:

COVID Travel Restrictions Based on Geographic Origin

Restrictions on travel are currently in effect for travelers who have been physically present in certain countries within 14 days of their intended arrival in the U.S. These restrictions are separate from the requirement for testing prior to travel, and a negative COVID-19 test does not supersede these restrictions. The countries impacted by these travel restrictions are:

The Presidential Proclamation regarding travel restrictions for travelers originating in China applies to all individuals physically present in the People's Republic of China but specifically excludes the Special Autonomous Regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

On July 16, 2020, the Department of State announced that a National Interest Exception for the presidential proclamations restricting travelers who had been physically present in the European Schengen Area, Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom. This exception allows students holding F-1 visas issued before the implementation of Presidential Proclamations 9993 and 9996 to travel to the U.S. from those countries in spite of the Presidential Proclamations.

Students applying for a new F-1 visa are automatically issued a National Interest Exception valid for 30 days from the date of visa issuance to allow them to enter the U.S. J-1 students traveling in these countries are eligible to request a National Interest Exception from the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Flowchart for entering the U.S. under COVID Testing and Geographic Travel Restrictions

Required Documents for Travel During Your Studies

In order to travel outside of the U.S. and return to continue your studies, you need the following documents:

F-1 Students and F-2 Dependents

  • I-20 Form (signed by ISSS advisor)
  • Valid F-1 or F-2 visa

J-1 Students and J-2 Dependents

  • DS-2019 Form (signed by ISSS advisor)
  • Valid J-1 or J-2 visa

All International Students 

  • Passport (valid at least 6 months into the future)
  • Unofficial Transcripts

In addition to the above documentation it is advisable to bring your evidence of financial support, such as a bank statement or scholarship letter.

Traveling while on OPT

Below is the list of documents we tell all students carry with them if they travel outside the U.S. while on OPT. Note that the travel signature on your I-20 cannot be more than 6 months old. 


  • Passport that is valid for six months into the future.
  • Your I-20 with a current travel signature. The date on the travel signature should be no more than 6 months old as of the date that you are re-entering the U.S.
  • Your Employment Authorization Document (EAD, also commonly referred to as an “OPT card”)
  • A letter from your employer with the following information: name of company address and telephone number of company (if you will be working at a location other than the company headquarters, your specific physical work location should be noted) your position title a brief explanation of your job duties (which, of course, should be directly related to your academic major) the date you started or are expected to start the position your salary/compensation/benefits details your supervisor’s name and contact information


  • A status letter from our office, which you may request via WorldLink
  • Official PSU Transcript:

Obtaining a Travel Signature

It is essential that you have a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 form from an ISSS advisor before traveling outside the U.S.! Please be aware that it takes from 3 – 5 days to obtain a travel signature, so it is important for you to plan ahead. To request a travel signature, submit your request via WorldLink. If you are unfamiliar with the travel signature request, you may review these step-by-step instructions (PDF).

Travel to Canada, Mexico, and Adjacent Islands for Less than 30 Days

If you visit Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands, excluding Cuba, for fewer than 30 days, a valid F or J visa may not be required to return, as long as you have a valid I-94. This is called "Automatic Visa Revalidation". It is important to keep the following points in mind:

  • You should not surrender your I-94 card upon entry to these countries if you intend to visit for fewer than 30 days with an expired visa.
  • When using this option do NOT attempt to reapply for a visa while outside the U.S.

For more information on returning to the United States using Automatic Visa Revalidation, you can find resources published by the Department of State and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

To find out if you need a visa to visit Canada, please visit the website for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

To find out if you need a visa to visit Mexico, please visit the Visas page of the Consulate General of Mexico in Portland's website.

Canadian Students

Canadian students are not typically required to obtain a visa to enter the US. However, they are still considered international students and must have a valid I-20 or DS-2019 when re-entering the US.

Canadian and Mexican Embassies and Consulates

The embassies nearest PSU for Canada and Mexico are:
Consulate General of Canada in Seattle
Consulate General of Mexico in Portland

Dependents or Visiting Relatives

A DS-2019 or I-20 may be issued for your legal spouse or minor children to apply for a J-2 or F-2 visa to travel to the United States. You must first provide financial documentation that shows their full support during their stay. You can request to 'Add A New Dependent' in WorldLink.

Your dependents may travel outside the U.S. and return in dependent status while you are continuing your studies. They will need the documents outlined above (DS-2019 or I-20 with a valid travel signature, valid passport, and a valid J-2 or F-2 visa). If your dependent needs a new travel signature on their DS-2019 or I-20, you may request that through WorldLink.

If an F or J student will be traveling outside the U.S. for more than 30 days, it is advised that any F or J dependent family members depart with the student.

If your spouse or minor children will be visiting you in the U.S. while you are studying, but will not stay with you for an extended period, it may be appropriate for them to travel with a B-2 visa or under the Visa Waiver Program, if available based on their nationality.

Know Before You Go

We want you to have a safe and worry-free trip! Here are some tips for international students traveling outside the U.S. during their studies.