Traveling Outside the United States?
(COVID-19 is significantly affecting travel and ability to obtain visa stamps at U.S. Embassies, please see international travel updates)
F‐1 and J‐1 students must carry specific documentation to re‐enter the United States to study after a temporary absence or vacation. To re‐enter the U.S. using your UC Merced issued Form I‐20 (for those in F status) or Form DS‐2019 (for those in J status), you must be enrolled as a student at UC Merced and planning to continue your studies at the university immediately upon your return to the U.S., or have authorization for post‐graduate Optional Practical Training. If you plan to be out of the U.S. for more than five months, you will need to speak with an advisor about how your immigration status will be affected.
Documents F-1 and J-1 visa holders should carry if traveling outside the United States:
|Current passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of your re‐entry to the U.S.|
|Current, valid Form I‐20 or Form DS‐2019 issued by UC Merced with travel signature that will be no more than 12 months old when you return. No more than 6 months if on approved post-completion OPT.|
|Current, valid F‐1 or J‐1 visa stamp in passport (except under some circumstances for travel to Mexico, Canada or adjacent islands). Read visa renewal section below if you will be renewing your visa while abroad.|
|Financial information showing evidence of the necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses (personal bank statements; letter of financial support – salary, scholarships, financial aid, etc. from UC Merced;' notice of financial award from the government or home institution, etc.). Evidence of funding should be at least equal to the estimated costs listed in item 7 on the first page of your I‐20 if you are an F‐1 student.|
|Proof of your current and previous full-time enrollment status at UC Merced (e.g. copy of unofficial transcripts).|
|If you are an F-1 student on Optional Practical Training, copy of your Employment Authorization Document and proof of employment or offer of employment.|
Documents F-2 and J-2 dependents should carry when traveling outside the United States:
|Separate Form I‐20 or Form DS‐2019 issued for dependent(s).|
|Current valid passport and F‐2 or J‐2 visa stamp.|
|Copies of the passport, visa, and current Form I‐20 or Form DS‐2019 of the primary F‐1/J‐1 holder.|
|Copies of marriage certificate in English or with English translation (for visa application).|
A visa in your passport issued by a U.S. consulate does not determine how long you can remain in the United States. Therefore; you may stay in the U.S. beyond the expiration date of a visa as long as the visa document (Form I-20 or Form DS-2019) remains valid. Once your U.S. visa has expired and you travel outside the U.S., you must obtain a new visa before you can return to the United States.
As a service to students, OIA can provide a confirmation of immigration status letter for the visa renewal process.
It is not possible to renew a visa within the U.S. Visas are issued only by a U.S. consul in a U.S. embassy or consulate located outside the United States.
Documents to carry if applying for a new or renewal of your visa stamp at a U.S. consulate/embassy abroad:
|Current, valid UC Merced issued Form I‐20 or Form DS‐2019 with a recent travel signature from the International Students and Scholars Office (no more than 12 months old). If you have more than one I‐20/DS‐2019 form, be sure to take all forms with you (the old and the current forms).|
|Original proof of financial support (personal bank statements; letter of financial support – salary, scholarships, financial aid, etc. from UC Merced; notice of financial award from the government or home institution, etc.). Evidence of funding should be at least equal to the estimated costs listed in item 7 on the first page of your I‐20 if you are an F‐1 student.|
|Evidence of your intention to return to home country upon completion of your degree program in the U.S. Proof of ties to home country may include a job offer, family ties, or property in home country.|
|Proof of your current and past enrollment at UC Merced (official Verification of Enrollment available through the Office of the Registrar is recommended).|
|Copies of your unofficial transcripts.|
|Your CV/resume and information regarding your area of research, particularly if you are a graduate student and your field of study or research is considered sensitive and has direct or indirect military applications.|
|CV/resume of your faculty advisor, particularly for graduate students with a sensitive field of study.|
|All other documents required at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy office where you will apply for your visa renewal. Access specific country and consulate information at http://www.usembassy.gov/. Check for fees, application procedures, processing times, holiday breaks, etc., which vary between offices and countries.|
|Support letter from the International Students and Scholars Office (available upon request; please allow at least one week for processing).|
ALLOW SUFFICIENT TIME IF YOU NEED TO APPLY FOR A RENEWAL OF YOUR VISA.
Most students can expect to receive their new visa stamp within one week to one month of their interview at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy office or submitting their Visa renewal application using a different process. However, students whose applications require administrative processing/security background checks may be subject to delays of 60 days or longer.