On this page, you will find information related to travelling internationally during and after your program of study, including:
- Current travel issues
- Travel during your program of study
- Travel while on Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- Obtaining a Travel Signature
- Travel to adjacent countries and territories (for example, Canada and Mexico)
- Travel for F-2 and J-2 dependents
- Know Before You Go: Resources on immigration and customs when you return to the U.S.
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:
- Links to the Federal Register notice and Attestation Form
- A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document
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:
- South Africa, Presidential Proclamation 10143 (January 25, 2021)
- China, Presidential Proclamation 9984 (January 31, 2020); extended through Presidential Proclamation 10143 (January 25, 2021)
- Iran, Presidential Proclamation 9992 (February 29, 2020); extended through Presidential Proclamation 10143 (January 25, 2021)
- European Schengen Area, Presidential Proclamation 9993 (March 11, 2020); extended through Presidential Proclamation 10143 (January 25, 2021)
- Ireland and the United Kingdom, Presidential Proclamation 9996 (March 14, 2020); extended through Presidential Proclamation 10143 (January 25, 2021)
- Brazil, Presidential Proclamation 10041 (May 24, 2020); extended through Presidential Proclamation 10143 (January 25, 2021)
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.
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.
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: https://www.pdx.edu/registration/transcript-request
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).
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.
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 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
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.
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.
- Can Border Agents Search Your Electronic Devices? It's Complicated (American Civil Liberties Union) The ACLU offers information on travelers' 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 website.
- If a non-citizen 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 (PDF).