Traveling Outside & Reentering the United States

Departing the United States

Special Registration Under NSEERS

The NSEERS program has been discontinued by the United States federal government. Students who previously entered the United States as special registrants do not need to check out with the Department of Homeland Security at the airport when departing the United States.

Traveling to Canada, Mexico, and the Adjacent Islands

Most F-1 and J-1 students and their F-2 and J-2 dependents who are travelling to Canada, Mexico or the adjacent islands for FEWER than 30 days do not need to surrender their I-94 card when departing the U.S. Instead, students or dependents can retain the I-94 card and use it again to reenter the U.S. A valid student visa is generally not required when traveling in this manner, as students are permitted to reenter the U.S. with an expired F-1 or J-1 student visa. Important Note:  Nationals of Iran, Syria, Sudan and Cuba are NOT eligible to use this option.

If you did not receive a paper I-94 card when you last entered the US you should print your electronic I-94 record and take it with you. 

For information on reentering the U.S. following a trip to Mexico, Canada or an adjacent island for fewer than 30 days with an EXPIRED F-1 or J-1 student visa, please refer to Custom and Border Patrol Automatic Visa Revalidation Information

Reentering the United States

If you leave the United States –even for a short trip– and will be returning to the University of Notre Dame to continue your studies, you will need the following immigration documents/items to reenter the U.S.:

  • A passport that will be valid for at least six months after your intended return to the U.S.
  • A valid F-1 or J-1 Visa (A valid visa is not required for citizens of Canada or Bermuda) 

A visa is a travel document stamped into your passport by a U.S. consulate or embassy that allows you to enter the United States. It contains your photo, birth and citizenship information and the purpose of your visit to the U.S. The visa also contains validity dates, which are the first and last dates that a visa may be used to enter the U.S. The visa also indicates for how many entries it may be used; “multiple entry” visas may be used an unlimited number of times until the date they expire while “single entry” visas are valid for one use only. Visas may also be valid for smaller, finite numbers of entries.

If you’ve used up the number of entries, or if your visa will expire before you plan to reenter the U.S., you will need to apply for a new F-1 or J-1 visa. If you had a change to F-1 or J-1 status approved in the U.S., you will also need to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa to match your new F-1 or J-1 status in order to reenter the U.S.  (See exception above for short term travel to Canada, Mexico, and several Caribbean islands.)

It is recommended that you apply for the visa in your home country and not as a third-country national in another country; there is always a greater risk of delay or denial when applying for a U.S. visa in a third country. You should consult with an International Student Advisor before planning to apply for a visa as a third-country national.

  • F-1 Stude​nts: Most recent I-20 form with a valid travel signature from International Student and Scholar Affairs (ISSA).

Look at the bottom section of page 2 of your most recent I-20. If the travel signature will be more than 12 months old when you return to the U.S., you MUST request a new travel signature from ISSA prior to your departure.  You may stop by ISSA from 1:00PM to 4:30PM to request a new signature.   F-1 students engaged in Post-Completion OPT -  travel signatures are valid for only six months. Please refer to your OPT handout for further information.

  • J-1 Student​s with Notre Dame issued DS-2019s: Most recent DS-2019 form with a valid travel signature from International Student and Scholar Affairs (ISSA).

Check the “Travel Authorization” section in the bottom right corner of your DS-2019. If there is no signature there, you MUST request a travel signature. If there is a signature, and it will be more than 6 months old before your return to the U.S., you MUST request a new travel signature from ISSA.  If your DS-2019 was issued by the University of Notre Dame, you may stop by the ISSA office from 1:00PM to 4:30PM to request a new signature.

NOTE: J-1 students with non-Notre Dame DS-2019s will need a travel signature from the agency/organization that issued their DS-2019.

Updated 9/10/15