Travel Information for International Students
If you are traveling outside the US with intent to return and resume your studies or practical training please make sure that you have the following documents with you. It’s a good idea to have a set of copies packed in a separate bag as well -- it can help you replace lost or stolen originals. Be sure all of your originals are in your hand luggage. DO NOT pack them in your checked luggage.
Always allow for plenty of time between arrival in the U.S. and your flight to Spokane. 4 hours or more is minimal. Customs and Border Protection delays, especially for anyone pulled into “secondary inspection” can be lengthy.
It is also wise to have a back-up plan in case you are denied entry. Have a friend or relative who can access your apartment or dorm, and someone with a power of attorney who can act on your behalf in the U.S. if you cannot re-enter and act for yourself. This is particularly important for students with families and children –especially if the family is not traveling together.
Expired visas: Please note, if applying for a visa, there is a risk of extended delays under current security protocols.
If your visa is expired or you changed visa status while in the U.S., you must obtain a new visa prior to re-entry unless you qualify for automatic revalidation (see below). It is recommended that you apply for a visa in your country of residence whenever possible. Contact the U.S. Consulate where you will apply for a visa for information on visa appointments, document requirements and application processing times.
We are currently recommending against trying to obtain or renew visas over short breaks. While parts of Executive Orders 13769 and 13780 have been suspended by court orders, other provisions remain in place, such as the suspension of interview waivers for some visa renewals. This will cause additional delays for all applications. In addition, although it has been unusual, Consulatex have regularly initiated security checks for returning students for a variety of reasons, ranging from a common name, to travel history, to the applicant’s field of study, etc. These checks are unpredictable, and often take six to eight weeks –occasionally they take a year. With the increase of vetting called for in the Executive Orders, we expect more checks and for longer delays when they are initiated. If a security check has been initiated, the consulate is required wait for an answer from Washington, DC before they can issue a visa. In this situation, no matter how long the delay has been, the Consulate and Department of State in Washington, DC will not respond to pleas by universities or student applicants.
NAFSA Association of International Educators has a helpful Travel Advisory page www.nafsa.org/EOentry
Verify the information on your I-94
It is very important to check your I-94 record each time you enter. The most important things to check are your Admit Until Date, and Class of Admission. Some I-94's may have a date certain (expiration date) that may be close to or the same as your visa expiration date, rather than the normal "D/S" (Duration of Status). This can prompt an arrest warrant to be issued if you are here longer than 60 days after that date. If the information on your I-94 is wrong, make an appointment with your immigration advisor as soon as possible.
Re-entry to the United States under Automatic Visa Revalidation*
For travel to only Mexico, Canada, or adjacent islands** you may be able to re-enter the U.S. even if your U.S. visa is expired or if your U.S. visa category has changed. This is called "automatic visa revalidation". To use automatic visa revalidation the requirements listed below must be met (see http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/auto_reva.pdf for additional details):
We recommend getting an information sheet from SGL and having a conversation prior to attempting automatic revalidation.
*Citizens of Cuba, Iran, Sudan or Syria can not use "automatic visa revalidation".
**defined as Saint Pierre, Miquelon, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea, but NOT Cuba
Resources for Travel & Knowing Your Rights
Arrests for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) may immediately result in a visa being “prudentially” revoked by the US Department of State with or without notice to the visa applicant. In most cases the visa holder will be informed by the issuing Consulate, however, this isn’t happening 100% of the time, and the notice may be sent to an old email or address.
Having your visa revoked does not generally affect your status while you remain inside the U.S., but if your visa has been revoked or it has expired and you need to get a new visa, there can be serious delays. If you have even a single arrest for a DUI (1 arrest in 5 years, or 2 arrests in any time period), you are supposed to be referred to a panel physician for evaluation of addiction/abuse (this is a very subjective process, so even one arrest can be considered “abuse”). If the physician finds cause, the applicant become ineligible to get a visa , usually for at least 12 months,, for some applicants it takes several years to be cleared for a new visa.
Individuals who have ever been arrested for a DUI or other serious offense should consult with an immigration attorney before departing the US.
Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, some aliens are “inadmissible” based on illegal or prohibited activity including, conviction of or admitting use or distribution of any illicit drug (including marijuana, even in states like Washington, Colorado, and Alaska where it is “legal” or outside the U.S.), conviction of 2 or more crimes in which the sentences of imprisonment add up to at least 5 years, crimes involving “moral turpitude” – that is any act that is inherently evil (fraud, larceny, intent to harm, etc.). Never lie to an immigration agent, but be aware that if you have been convicted of, admit to, or there is evidence of you using or distributing illegal or controlled substances, or meet any of the other grounds for admissibility, you can (and likely will be) denied entry. Never lie about your activities to a Consular officer or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer.
At some Ports of Entry, travelers are being asked for access to electronic devices such as mobile phones and laptop computers, and for social media passwords. The Department of Homeland Security is presently considering instituting a policy requiring visitors from certain countries to provide social media passwords in order to secure a visa to travel to the U.S. Even without the policy requiring it, refusing to provide those passwords may lead an officer to deny entry to you. Consider what sensitive information might be on your devices and think about your social media presence in advance – what may be a joke between you and a friend may appear very serious to a CBP officer.