Big Data

Travel outside the U.S.

Traveling abroad including Canada and Mexica plus re-entry information.

If you are traveling abroad, including short trips to Mexico and Canada, you must meet the entry requirements of the country you wish to visit in addition to the U.S. requirements for re-entry. You should check with the embassy/consulate of the country you plan to visit as early as possible to see if that country requires you to apply for a visa.

General Information

Trips Solely to Canada and Mexico for 30 days or less

  • Students are eligible to travel with an expired visa or a change of visa status using Automatic Revalidation as long as they do not apply for a new visa during the visit and are not a citizen or national of a country that has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.
  • Students are expected to bring all the travel documents listed under “Documents for Re-Entry to the USA”

Documents for Re-Entry to the USA

To re-enter the U.S. while in active F-1 or J-1 status, you will need:

    • Original paper copy of your most recent I-20 or DS-2019 form with a travel signature that is no older than 12 months
      • If you are on OPT, a travel signature must be no older than 6 months
      • Only a staff member in the International Center who is a Designated School Official can issue a travel signature
    • Unexpired Passport
    • Unexpired F-1/J-1 Visa
    • Proof of payment for the I-901 SEVIS fee
    • Cal Poly ID
    • Copy of current class schedule

In addition to your Cal Poly ID, if asked about your current enrollment, we recommend you have access to your Poly Profile or bring a copy of your current class schedule.

See the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Student and Exchange Visitor Programpage for more information.

Requesting a Travel Signature

If your travel signature will be over a year old when you return to the U.S. (or six months old if you are on post-completion or STEM OPT) then you will need a new signature. Note that travel signatures may be used multiple times, and you do not need a new signature for every trip outside the U.S. unless your curent travel signature has expired. 

To request a new travel signature:

  • Log in to your International Student Hub, click “Student Requests”, then “Travel Signature Request”
  • Travel signatures can typically be issued within 2-3 business days and your new I-20 will be emailed to you
  • If traveling over a break, you should be enrolled in at least one class at Cal Poly for the following quarter

Increased Security at Ports of Entry

Re-Entry After Program End Date

If you have questions about traveling after the program end date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019 form, please email