Travel Restrictions and Requirements

For the most part, you can easily travel domestically within the United States, as long as you bring your passport and appropriate documentation.
Traveling outside of the United States may carry some restrictions and  requires additional documentation and approvals. Rules vary by visa status.

Visa Revocation Policy

The IO recently learned that the U.S. Department of State may be revoking non-immigrant visas for individuals arrested for or convicted of driving while under the influence or driving while intoxicated in the previous five years. If the arrest/conviction occurred prior to the date of a recent visa application, then this policy may not apply if an application for a visa was assessed and a visa was issued. If a visa has been revoked as a result of this policy, an individuals may still obtain a new visa to come to the U.S.
 
What does this mean for you?
If you have had an arrest/conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or driving while intoxicated in the U.S., and if this arrest/conviction occurred after you obtained a visa to come to the U.S., it is possible that your visa has been revoked without you being aware of it.  Some individuals across the U.S. have been contacted by the visa post that issued their visa to inform them that their visa had been revoked.  Others have learned of the revocation of their visa when they attempted to return to the U.S. from a trip abroad.  If you had such an arrest/conviction, and if you plan to leave the U.S. intending to return, we suggest that you contact the visa post that issued your visa to inquire whether your visa is still valid. You should do so well in advance of your trip, e.g. before purchasing a plane ticket and when you still have time to make changes in your plans. We also recommend that you do not leave the U.S. until you have taken steps to address the matter. If the individual whose visa has been revoked has dependents in the U.S. in F-2, J-2 or H-4 status, the dependents’ visas will also be revoked.
 
It is important to understand that this requirement does not affect your status in the U.S., only your visa. Remember that your visa is needed to enter the U.S. but once you have entered, your visa does not have to remain valid. You must, however, have a valid I-20 (F-1/F-2), valid DS-2019 (J-1/J-2) or I-797 Approval Notice (H-1B/H-4). If you are not planning a trip abroad in the near future, this requirement does not affect you, even if you have been arrested/convicted, until you do seek to reenter the U.S. after a trip abroad.
 
Please note that this information is not at all related to the recent election in the United States. Further, if you find that your visa has been revoked, or you are concerned, please consult with your regular IO International Student or Scholar Advisor to discuss your options. The IO can also refer you to legal representation should the need arise.

Automatic Visa Revalidation

If:

  • you are an F-1/J-1 student or J-1 Exchange Visitor
  • your F/J visa stamp has expired
  • you are not a citizen of Iran, Syria, Sudan or Cuba
  • you plan to visit Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean (list of eligible islands) for less than 30 days                   

THEN: you are eligible for Automatic Visa Revalidation.   This means you can re-enter the US, even if your visa stamp has expired.  You will be allowed to re-enter the US one time (this DOES NOT renew or extend your visa stamp). 

If you plan to use Automatic Visa Revalidation, please print the following documents, and carry them with your passport and I-20/DS-2019: CBP Automatic Visa Revalidation Information Sheet

Automatic Visa Revalidation is not very common, so the Customs & Border Patrol official or foreign border officer may not know what it is.  It is your responsibility to print the documents above, in case you need to explain the process to the officer.  Questions?  Please contact your IO advisor.

Safe travels!