International Services

The University of South Florida and our office will be closed for the winter break starting at 5:00pm on Dec. 22, 2017 and will re-open at 8:00am on Jan. 2, 2018. Please make sure any time sensitive issues are resolved prior to the closure. Processing of eforms/documents will resume in 2018. The closure time will not count towards any published processing times.

Traveling on an F-1 or J-1 Visa

General Required Documents

  • I-901 SEVIS fee receipt (
  • Passport (valid at least 6 months from the date you will return to the US)
  • Valid Visa Stamp in passport (or using automatic visa revalidation, if applicable)

    NOTE: If you changed your status in the USA to F or J, you must obtain a visa stamp from a
    US embassy or consulate to return to the USA
  • I-20 or DS-2019 with current travel endorsement from DSO/ARO

Also recommended:

  • Proof of Enrollment (such as an Enrollment letter or official transcripts)
  • Proof of funding (for tuition and living expenses)

Automatic Visa Revalidation:

Any non-immigrant, who has maintained status and is not applying for a new visa, may travel to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands (F/J only) for a visit of 30 days or less without having to obtain a new visa prior to re-entry. They must possess a valid endorsed I-20, DS-2019, or I-129. For further information please see our Automatic Visa Revalidation handout.

Visa Renewal:

Our office provides a checklist of the recommended items to take with you to your visa renewal appointment. You may also find the following links useful:
List of US Embassies in other countries -
Visa Wait Times -

Grace Period:

An F-1 student may remain in the United States for up to 60 days (30 days for J-1s) beyond the completion of the program of study. This is not an extension of your program. You cannot take additional courses or continue any employment during this period. Your grace period is time given to prepare to depart the US, start a new degree program at the same school, or transfer out to another school. If an F-1 or J-1 student exits the USA during the grace period they will not be allowed to re-enter.

During F-1 60 Day Grace Period:
F-1’s CAN F-1’s CANNOT
  • Prepare to depart USA
  • Travel within the USA
  • Obtain New Degree Level Form I-20 (for a program beginning within 5 months of previous program end date)
  • Transfer Out to another school
  • Apply for Post Completion OPT (if applicable)
  • Exit the USA and re-enter
  • Continue any employment
  • Take classes

During J-1 30 Day Grace Period:
J-1’s CAN J-1’s CANNOT
  • Prepare to depart USA
  • Travel within the USA
  • Begin Academic Training (if authorized)
  • Exit the USA and re-enter
  • Continue any employment
  • Take classes


Taking a cruise is considered exiting the United States. For this reason, you should travel with all your valid travel documents. If you go on a cruise during your 60 day grace period please be aware that you will not be allowed to re-enter as an F-1 or J-1.
You could potentially re-enter as a visitor using a B1/B2 visa or ESTA if you are from a Visa Waiver country.
Warning: Entering as a visitor would abandon any benefits related to your F-1 or J-1, such as OPT or starting a new degree program. If you have any concerns please make an appointment to meet with an International Student Advisor to discuss your options.

Travel during:

Transfer: If you have maintained your F-1 status and are transferring to USF from another institution you may travel before beginning your program. If you have been issued a USF Form I-20 for the new program you must re-enter the USA using that Form I-20.

Current USF Student Changing Level: If you are already a USF student, maintaining your F-1 status, and are starting a new degree level you may travel before beginning your new program. If you have been issued a Form I-20 for the new program and intend to begin that program upon your return you should re-enter using the new Form I-20.

Optional Practical Training (OPT): If you are currently on OPT following graduation and you have a job or a job offer to return to, you may be eligible to leave the U.S. and re-enter to resume work at the same job OR to start your new job. Please see our OPT Travel Advisory for further details.

Pending “Change of Status” (COS) application: Travel outside the USA is not recommended while a COS application is pending since it will be viewed as abandoning your status. Please meet with an International Student Advisor to discuss your options.

 Approved “Change of status” (COS): If your COS has been approved you may travel with all of the general required documents. However, you will need to obtain a visa stamp for your new status before re-entering the US.

Study or Research Abroad:

All students are limited to two semesters of study/research abroad. Students must pursue a full course of study and maintain active USF student status, including health insurance. The Study or Research Abroad Approval Form (should be approved by either your Education Abroad Advisor or Academic Advisor and submitted to the International Services Office.

Dependent Travel:

F-1 and J-2 dependents are dependent upon the primary F-1 or J-1 maintaining legal status in the USA. Therefore, any dependent travel may be scrutinized based on the primary’s record. Travel endorsements can be obtained from the DSO/ARO in International Services and dependents should not remain in the USA without the primary visa holder.

Traveling to Canada - Helpful Resources:

Traveling to Mexico - Helpful Resources:

Useful Websites:

US Department of Homeland Security: Travel FAQ -
Department of State -
List of US Embassies in other countries -
Visa Services -
List of Embassies in the US -
US Visa Wait Times -
Study in the States -
I-94 Processing -
DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP) - * For students/scholars experiencing repeated problems at the port of entry

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