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 US since the Executive Orders on immigration have been issued. Please see our Executive Orders page for a full list of updates.
- Can Border Agents Search Your Electronic Devices? It's Complicated. (American Civil Liberties Union) The ACLU offers information on travellers' rights.
- Know Your Rights if Border Agents Ask to Search Your Phone. (New York Times) Border protection agents are not only increasing security measures for people entering the country, they can even request to search phones and other digital devices for departing travelers. Know your rights before you fly.
- Article about passengers' rights on domestic flights. (The Atlantic) While the article says you may not be required to show ID when deboarding a domestic flight, we advise international students to cooperate with law enforcement in all situations.
- 5 Things U.S. Citizens and Others Need to Know About Border Control (Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP)
- US Customs and Border Protection may search or detain your electronic device (such as phone or laptop). If this happens to you, please let ISSS know about your experience. Here is what you should know if your electronic device is inspected: Inspection of Electronic Devices (PDF)
- While packing for a trip, it is important to know what foods and medicines, as well as plant and animal items, are not allowed in the United States. For more information on what items you should avoid carrying into the United States see the Don't Pack a Pest flyer.
- If a non-citizin admits to an immigration official that he or she has ever used marijuana, the person can face very serious immigration problems. Read this important WARNING FOR IMMIGRANTS ON LEGALIZED/MEDICAL MARIJUANA.
In order to travel outside of the US you need the following documents:
- I-20 Form (signed by ISSS advisor)
- Valid F-1 visa
- DS-2019 Form (signed by ISSS advisor)
- Valid J-1 visa
All International Students
- Passport (valid at least 6 months into the future)
- I-94 Form
- 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.
Obtaining a Travel Signature
It is essential that you obtain a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 form from an ISSS advisor before traveling outside the US! 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. For step-by-step instructions with pictures on how to request a Travel Signature, click here.
Travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean for Less than 30 Days
If you visit Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean for fewer than 30 days a valid F-1, J-1, or J-2 visa is not required for most individuals, as long as you have a valid I-94.
- 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 in Canada.
- For more information on returning to the United States after a visit to Canada with an expired US visa, please see the US Government website here: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/automatic-revalidation.html
To find out if you need a visa to visit Canada, please click here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp
If you need a visa to enter Canada or if you do not know if you need a visa to enter Canada, please visit the Canada Consulte in Los Angeles website here: http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/los_angeles/visas/index.aspx?lang=eng&view=d
Canadian students do not require 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
The embassies nearest PSU for Canada and Mexico are:
Traveling while on OPT
Below is the list of documents we tell all students carry with them if they travel outside the US 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 can request via WorldLink
- Official PSU Transcript: https://www.pdx.edu/registration/transcript-requests
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.
If a J-1 student will be away from Portland State University for more than 30 days it is advised that any J-2 family members depart with the J-1 student.