Travel Information

This page is intended to provide basic information to F-1 and J-1 student before they travel outside the United States. For specific questions please contact ISSS as individual cases and circumstances may vary.

Please select the titles for additional information.

When re-entering the U.S. F-1 and J-1 students must present the following required documents:

  • Valid/unexpired passport (with at least 6 months validity remaining)
  • Valid/unexpired F-1 or J-1 visa
    • citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from the visa requirement
  • An I-20/DS-2019 with a recent travel signature from ISSS
    • Enrolled F-1 or J-1 students: the travel signature is valid for up to 1 year for re-entry to the U.S.
    • F-1 students on OPT: the travel signature is valid for up to 6 months for re-entry to the U.S.
    • J-1 visiting scholars: validity depends on duration of J-1 program; check with ISSS
  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination

In addition to the above documents, F-1 students on OPT must also present the following documents:

  • Valid/unexpired EAD card
  • Highly recommended: proof of employment

Present required documents first.  Students may also carry the following recommended documents if requested:

  • Proof of enrollment/unofficial transcript
  • Proof of funding
  • J-1 students/scholars: proof of health insurance

Students traveling to other countries outside the U.S. are responsible for checking the visa and entry requirements for those countries.

We advise students to exercise caution when making international travel plans at this time.  If you are considering traveling, please review the following to make the best decisions regarding travel based on your personal circumstances:

  1. Most non-citizen, non-immigrant air passengers to the U.S. must show proof of full vaccination for COVID-19, including F-1 and J-1 students.  Students can review which vaccinations are accepted by viewing table 1 and table 2 of the CDC's website here.  The CDC has also released guidance on limited exemptions to the full vaccination requirement, which may include students traveling from certain countries with limited vaccine availability.  For a list of which countries are considered eligible for an exemption please view Table 4 on the CDC's website here.  Students should consult their airlines if they have any questions about providing acceptable vaccination documentation and/or whether or not they qualify for an exemption to the requirement.  Please note: UAlbany requires students to be fully vaccinated.
  2. Travel restrictions can change with little notice.  Flights and airline travel worldwide are still limited at this time.  Additionally, consular and embassy services may be limited in certain countries.
  3. Student should review CDC travel recommendations based on the country(ies) they plan to visit
  4. Human Resources requires students to be physically present in the United States to hold an assistantship or other student employment positions, so if you are unable to return to the U.S. unexpectedly it could jeopardize your student employment.

Canada is close to Albany, and many students may wish to visit Canada during their time here.  Students planning a trip to Canada should review the Canadian entry requirements and apply for a Canadian visa to enter Canada if needed.

F-1 or J-1 students meeting certain requirements may be able to travel to Canada, Mexico, or an eligible adjacent island for 30 days or else and re-enter the United States using and expired F-1 or J-1 visa. This is known as automatic visa revalidation. 

To qualify for visa revalidation, you must:

  • Presently be in valid F-1 or J-1 student status
  • Be carrying a valid I-20 or DS-2019 that has been signed for travel
  • Have a printout of your unexpired I-94 record with you
  • Have a valid passport
  • Be in Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands for less than 30 days
  • Not apply for a new visa during those 30 days

This does not apply to students from Iran, Syria, Sudan, or Cuba. In these cases, students must apply for the new visa stamp for re-entry if their current visa stamp is expired. If you think you qualify for automatic visa revalidation please confirm with an ISSS advisor before travelling.

If you are travelling within the United States you will not need to cross a border and be admitted. However, it is still a good idea to carry all your documents with you including your passport, visa, I-20/DS-2019, and I-94.  This is especially true if you'll be traveling within 100 miles of a U.S. border, because U.S. CBP can patrol and makes stops in that area.

Puerto Rico and Guam are territories of the United States and therefore considered to be part of the United States.

We recommend that students download and use the University's GlobalProtect VPN when accessing UAlbany networks and Blackboard from off-campus and overseas.

It is also recommend that you download the Duo Mobile app for your email 2-step login (if you’re currently getting 2-step verification texts to an American number that won’t work while you’re overseas).

F-1 and J-1 visas can only be renewed from outside the U.S. at a U.S. embassy or consulate. It is okay if your F-1 or J-1 visa expires while you are inside the U.S. as long as your passport and I-20/DS-2019 are still valid and unexpired, and you are still maintaining F-1 and J-1 student status.

If you will be traveling internationally after your F-1 or J-1 visa expires you must renew the F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate before returning to the U.S. (with limited exceptions; see the section on Automatic Visa Revalidation above).   Some students may also choose to renew their visa while in their home country if it will be expiring soon, but has not expired yet.  Generally, it is best to renew the visa at the embassy/consulate in your home country.  Applying as a third country national in another country could result in delays; consult ISSS first.

The process for renewing a visa is very similar to the process when you first applied for a visa.  Review our visa matters page for more information.  Here are some other helpful tips:

  • It is generally best to apply while in your home country for a lengthier period of time, such as during summer break
  • You must have a valid passport (with 6 months validity remaining)
  • Obtain a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019
  • Provide the embassy a copy of your official or unofficial transcript
  • Be prepared to provide proof of funding (such as evidence you have paid prior bills at the University; a recent bank statement; a scholarship or other award letter; a bank statement and financial affidavit from any sponsor; or a combination of these sources).
  • Be prepared to demonstrate continuing non-immigrant intent and strong ties to home country.  
  • If a student's situation has changed since they first applied for a F-1 or J-1 visa, including factors related to their ability to demonstrate non-immigrant intent, the student may choose to consult an immigration attorney before leaving the U.S. to renew the visa

When a student applies for a visa they may be subject to a security clearance that can cause delays of weeks or even months in the issuance of your visa and your travel to the U.S.


The following are two common types of security clearance that you might encounter:

  • Field of Study: If a visa applicant's area of study is on the U.S. federal government’s “technology alert list,” which includes many of the science and technology fields, the U.S. consulate may seek a security clearance prior to granting the visa. This process may delay your visa application by anywhere from one to three months. There is no way to know for certain ahead of time whether you will be subject to this type of clearance. If you work in one of the science or technology fields and are returning to the U.S. to resume your studies or research, we advise you to ask your supervisor or chair to write a letter that briefly describes the specific area of your research in layperson’s terms. We also recommend that you carry with you a copy of your CV and one or two of your publications, if you have any. These materials will not necessarily deter a security clearance, but they may expedite the clearance.
  • Country of Citizenship, Nationality or Birth: A security clearance may also be required by the U.S. consulate if a visa applicant was born in or is a citizen or national of certain countries. The list of countries is not published, but seems to include the following: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and the territories of Gaza and West Bank.

If you have applied for a visa and believe that a security advisory opinion will delay your travel to the U.S. please contact your degree program or department immediately so that they can arrange to defer your degree program start date and/or to cover your teaching or research duties. If you have been waiting for more than one month for the results of a security advisory opinion please contact International Student and Scholar Services to inform us of the delay.

When a student is issued a 212g refusal, that means the case is undergoing "administrative processing."  The visa may still ultimately be approved, but additional security checks must be completed by the embassy or consulate first.  Additional information may also be requested by the embassy or consulate.  Please contact ISSS.

 

If you have questions about visa application procedures or required documents, please review information for the U.S. embassy or consulate where you plan to apply.


The State Department's Visa Office and many of the U.S. consular posts overseas have their own web sites that provide information on visa application procedures specific to the individual posts. Information on consular post policies, procedures and documentary requirements can be obtained via these web sites.

In nearly all cases the embassy officials want to correspond directly with the visa applicant (the student or scholar) rather than a third party (like the school).

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this web site/form is provided as a service to international students, faculty and staff at the University at Albany. It does not constitute legal advice. We try to provide useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site or any associated site or form. Neither the University at Albany nor ISSS is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in this website, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. Nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel; students may wish to consult an immigration attorney on the specifics of their case as needed.