If you are the parent of an international student with F-1 or J-1 visa status, please ask your student to check their immigration documents before winter break.
Every year the university hears from students who realize only after they have arrived home for the break that they forgot to carry required immigration documents, or that they forgot to get their current documents validated for travel. This can make a visit home more stressful and less enjoyable.
The good news is that this stress can often be avoided by checking documents before winter break begins.
Please note that the International Center will close for winter break on December 22 at 5 PM, 2017, and re-open on January 2, 2018.
Here's how students can check their immigration documents:
Remember to carry your most current original I-20 or DS-2019 when you travel internationally (and even domestically).
Check whether you have a valid travel signature (located on page two of the I-20 or page one of the DS-2019). An F-1 or J-1 student can enter the US multiple times using a single International Student Advisor travel signature, but that signature cannot be more than one-year-old on the date of re-entry to the US. If the travel signature expires before the date of re-entry to the US, you should ask the International Center for a new signature at least five business days before the university break begins.
Check your passport expiration date! When traveling outside of the US, students must ensure that their passport will not expire sooner than six months from their re-entry date. If their passport expires in less than six months, they may be denied re-entry to the US. So it is essential that your student renew their passport in the US through a consulate or embassy before traveling, or renew it while they are back in their country of citizenship (if home for a long enough period). For information regarding the passport renewal process, contact your country’s issuing authority or the appropriate embassy or consulate directly. The University of Michigan cannot advise on renewal procedures.
Check your visa expiration date! If the F-1/J-1 visa stamp in your student’s passport will expire before their intended re-entry date to the U.S., they will need to obtain a new visa to re-enter the US. (Canadian citizens do NOT need a visa to enter the US in F-1 or J-1 status.) See important information regarding renewing or getting a new visa for entry into the US. There is one exception to the valid visa requirement: see automatic visa revalidation.
What if your student with F-1 or J-1 visa status forgets?
If your student forgets their I-20 or DS-2019 or forgets to obtain a valid travel signature before going abroad for winter break, they may be sent to secondary inspection or issued an I-515A when they seek entry to the US. Please encourage them to review the I-515A information on the International Center website, then to go to the International Center when they return to Ann Arbor. The I-515A allows re-entry for a temporary period but will require that they take specific action to extend that time beyond 30 days.
For more important information regarding your student's travel guidelines, forms and other information, visit the International Center website.
Safe travels to all!
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