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Leaving the US

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Leaving the US

Depending upon your circumstances, your procedure for leaving the US may be different. Review the information in the section below that applies to your situation.

Travel Documents

Recommended documents to carry when travelling internationally. Only show documents requested.

I-94 Arrival/Departure Card

Entering the US after May 21, 2013 by air or sea port means your I-94 is electronic and you do not need to do anything.

Entering the US by a land port or before April 26, 2011, surrender your paper I-94 card at the point of departure from the US (unless traveling to Canada or Mexico)

Passport valid at least six months into the future

Form I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature.

Information on the I-20 says that the travel signature is valid for one year. However, based on recent SEVP guidance, ISS recommends you get a new travel signature if you will reenter the US more than 6 months from your last travel signature.

Valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in passport

Financial Documentation (bank statement, scholarship/assistantship letter)

Proof of enrollment (transcript, printout of current enrollment, and next semester’s enrollment, if available)

Renewing a Student Visa

You cannot renew your student visa stamp in the US. Except in rare cases, you must have a valid visa to reenter the US. It is not guaranteed that the US consulate will renew your visa. If your visa application is denied, you cannot return to the US. 

Visa applicants should note the following:

  • Applicants are subject to security clearances that may take several months. Background checks can result from arrests in the US, field of study, country of origin, or other factors.
  • If you need a visa and will be traveling on a short trip, remember, you may encounter visa processing delays.
  • Appointments are required for almost all non-immigrant visa applications. Check the Department of State website for processing times at the US consulate where you plan to apply.
  • Graduate students, professors and research scholars who are deemed to be studying certain “sensitive areas of study” may be subject to a security review. 
  •  If you are out of status and will be traveling outside of the US, you must speak with an OU international advisor before you leave the US to make certain you have the required documents for reinstatement through reentry.

Automatic Revalidation for Travel to Canada or Mexico

For most students, travel to a country that is contiguous to the US (Mexico, Canada, St. Pierre, Miquelon, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, Jamaica, Winward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Martinique) with an intended stay of less than 30 days (not applying for a new visa) may return to the US on an expired visa. This process is known as automatic visa revalidation.

If you travel to Canada or Mexico, you may need a visa to enter that country.

For more information and retrictions, visit

Study Abroad

It is important to remember that while you are on an OU Study Abroad program you are still an OU F-1 student and your SEVIS record will be maintained by OU ISS office.

Please make an appointment with an OU ISS advisor when planning for your Study Abroad experience.

Authorized Early Withdrawal

Want to depart the US prior to completing your program? Complete the Departure Form. Departing the US without completing this form could result in a termination of status for Failure to Enroll.

Depature Form

Departure Upon Completion of Studies

After you have completed your program, you have a grace period within which to depart the US. If you remain in the US after the end of your grace period following the end of your program, you will be unlawfully present in the US. Being unlawfully present in the US could make you subject to removal and future bars from entering the US, even if you qualify later for a new US visa through study, work, or marriage. Submit a Departure Form to prior to leaving OU.

F-1 Students: 60 day grace period

If you wish to remain in the US lawfully, you must do one of the following:

  1. Apply to the USCIS for a change of visa status before the end of your grace period
  2. Be accepted into a new degree-seeking program and receive a new I-20 before the end of your grace period
  3. Depart the US prior to the end of your grace period.

J-1 Students: 30 day grace period

If you wish to remain in the US lawfully, you must do one of the following:

  1. Depart the US prior to the end of your grace period.
  2. Apply to the USCIS for a change of visa status before the end of your grace period

Travel after Graduation while on Optional Practical Training

If you plan to travel outside of the US and then return for Optional Practical Training (OPT), we recommend you carry:

  1. Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card from USCIS
  2. Proof of employment (letter from your employer) or if you are not yet employed, have proof that you are actively seeking employment (proof of resumes sent, rejection notices from companies, and so on.) If you do not have a job, you may not be permitted to reenter the US.
  3. I-20 signed for travel
  4. Passport valid at least six month into the future
  5. Valid student visa