Travel Information

COVID-19 NOTE
 

Please note that due to ongoing travel restrictions, public health guidance, and immigration policy changes, we urge those currently in the United States to think carefully about international travel at this time. Students and scholars who leave the United States may face challenges when attempting re-entry. Please review our COVID-19 webpage for the latest updates.

 

This section is meant for current students and scholars whose immigration status has been sponsored by Penn. If your immigration status is sponsored by another institution, you should contact them for travel advice and requisite signatures.

If you are a new student arriving to Penn for the first time, please visit our Prepare for Penn and New Student Immigration sections.

Emergency Travel Concerns

If you travel without an I-20 /DS-2019 or it is outdated, you may be issued a Form I-515A (with an I-94 valid for just 30 days) by a CBP officer. Please see the section below about Travel Difficulties & Resources for more information.

International Travel Outside the US
Before you leave

Ensure you have the required Documentation & Signatures 

While you are away

Ensure you have a valid US Entry Visa

Upon your return

Ensure you have received an I-94 record reflecting the correct nonimmigrant status and duration

Travel Documents & Signatures

General Reminders

  • Carry a passport that is valid at least six months into the future. Some countries have an agreement with the U.S. that allows their citizens to enter on a current passport up to the actual date of expiration; however, the policy is applied inconsistently by border officials.

  • Hand-carry travel documents so that they are easily accessible and available for inspection.

  • Travel signatures for F and J status holders are required for re-entry to the US. To get your or your dependent's I-20 or DS-2019 endorsed for travel by ISSS, complete the Travel Signature Request in iPenn. Your I-20 will be sent to you electronically. For an updated DS-2019, please complete the Shipping Request form in iPenn as well so that we can ship your document to you.

Click on your status below to see the required international travel documents.

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F-1 Students & Dependents

F-1 Students

  • Valid I-20 signed by ISSS within the past 12 months or, if you are a student on post-completion OPT, it must be signed within the past 6 months

  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)

  • Valid F-1 US Entry Visa

  • Proof of initial SEVIS Fee Payment

  • If on post-completion OPT, valid EAD card

  • If on post-completion OPT, job offer letter or recent pay stub from the employer (strongly recommended)

  • Transcripts (strongly recommended)

  • Financial document(s) listed on form I-20 (strongly recommended)

F-2 Dependents

  • Valid Form I-20 endorsed for re-entry by ISSS within the past year 

  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)

  • Valid F-2 US Entry Visa

  • If traveling alone, copies of the F-1 student’s immigration documentation, including I-94. If the F-1 student is on post-completion OPT, also carry copies of F-1 student’s OPT I-20, EAD card, and job offer letter or recent pay stub from the employer.

NOTE: Citizens of Canada are exempt from the US Entry Visa requirement. However, Canadian F-1 and J-1 students and scholars must present the SEVIS fee payment confirmation (that can be printed from the fee website) for their initial entries to the U.S.

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J-1 Exchange Visitors & Dependents

J-1 Exchange Visitors

  • Valid Form DS-2019 endorsed for re-entry by ISSS within the past year
  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)
  • Valid J-1 US Entry Visa
  • Proof of initial SEVIS Fee Payment
  • Letter from supervisor verifying continued employment/sponsorship if J-1 Professor/Research Scholar or Short Term Scholar
  • A National Interest Exception is required for students and scholars traveling from COVID-19 travel-restricted areas. Please consult with your local US embassy or consulate for instructions on applying for a National Interest Exception.

J-2 Dependents

  • Valid Form DS-2019 endorsed for re-entry by ISSS within the past year
  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)
  • Valid J-2 US Entry Visa
  • If traveling alone, copies of the J-1 student or scholar’s immigration documentation, including I-94
  • A National Interest Exception is required for students and scholars traveling from COVID-19 travel-restricted areas. Please consult with your local US embassy or consulate for instructions on applying for a National Interest Exception.

NOTE: Citizens of Canada are exempt from the US Entry Visa requirement. However, Canadian F-1 and J-1 students and scholars must present the SEVIS fee payment receipt for their initial entries to the U.S.

J-1 Professors/Research Scholars: scroll down to the section below under "Travel Difficulties and Resources" for information on the Notice of Absence form. 

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H-1B or O-1 Employees (and Dependents)

H-1B or O-1 Employees

  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)

  • Valid H-1B or O-1 visa stamp

  • Original valid Form I-797 H-1B or O-1 Notice of Approval

  • 2-3 most recent pay stubs or letter from supervisor confirming continued employment

  • Copy of I-129 petition

NB: Scholars for whom the University is filing a petition for H-1B extension or those changing from one H-1B employer to another should contact an ISSS advisor regarding their travel options.

H-4 or O-3 Dependents

  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)

  • Valid H-4 or O-3 visa stamp

  • Copy of primary's Form I-797 H-1B or O-1 Notice of Approval

  • Original Form I-797 H-4 or O-3 Notice of Approval if changed to or extended H-4 or O-3 status in the United State

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E-3 Employees & Dependents

E-3 Employees

  • Valid Australian passport (for more than 6 months from date of intended return)

  • Valid E-3 visa stamp

  • 2-3 most recent pay stubs or letter from supervisor confirming continued employment

  • Copy of valid LCA

  • Original valid Form I-797 E-3 Notice of Approval if changed to or extended E-3 status in the United States

  • Copy of I-129 petition if changed to or extended E-3 status in the United States

E-3D Dependents

  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)

  • Valid E-3D visa stamp

  • Copy of primary's Form I-797 E-3 Notice of Approval if changed to or extended E-3 status in the United States

  • Original valid Form I-797 E-3D Notice of Approval if changed to or extended E-3D status in the United States

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TN Employees & Dependents

TN Employees

  • Valid Canadian or Mexican passport (for more than 6 months from date of intended return)
  • Valid TN visa stamp if Mexican national
  • Job offer letter specifying the Trade NAFTA profession and duration of employment
  • Requisite educational or occupational credentials such as diploma, license, etc.

TD Dependents

  • Valid passport (for more than 6 months from date of intended return)
  • Valid TD visa stamp if non-Canadian dependent
  • Marriage or birth certificate showing relationship to TN primary
  • Copy of spouse/ parent's job offer letter specifying the Trade NAFTA profession and duration of employment
  • If traveling alone, copies of the primary's (TN) immigration documentation, including I-94
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F-1 Students & Dependents

F-1 Students

  • Valid I-20 signed by ISSS within the past 12 months or, if you are a student on post-completion OPT, it must be signed within the past 6 months

  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)

  • Valid F-1 US Entry Visa

  • Proof of initial SEVIS Fee Payment

  • If on post-completion OPT, valid EAD card

  • If on post-completion OPT, job offer letter or recent pay stub from the employer (strongly recommended)

  • Transcripts (strongly recommended)

  • Financial document(s) listed on form I-20 (strongly recommended)

F-2 Dependents

  • Valid Form I-20 endorsed for re-entry by ISSS within the past year 

  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)

  • Valid F-2 US Entry Visa

  • If traveling alone, copies of the F-1 student’s immigration documentation, including I-94. If the F-1 student is on post-completion OPT, also carry copies of F-1 student’s OPT I-20, EAD card, and job offer letter or recent pay stub from the employer.

NOTE: Citizens of Canada are exempt from the US Entry Visa requirement. However, Canadian F-1 and J-1 students and scholars must present the SEVIS fee payment confirmation (that can be printed from the fee website) for their initial entries to the U.S.

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J-1 Exchange Visitors & Dependents

J-1 Exchange Visitors

  • Valid Form DS-2019 endorsed for re-entry by ISSS within the past year
  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)
  • Valid J-1 US Entry Visa
  • Proof of initial SEVIS Fee Payment
  • Letter from supervisor verifying continued employment/sponsorship if J-1 Professor/Research Scholar or Short Term Scholar
  • A National Interest Exception is required for students and scholars traveling from COVID-19 travel-restricted areas. Please consult with your local US embassy or consulate for instructions on applying for a National Interest Exception.

J-2 Dependents

  • Valid Form DS-2019 endorsed for re-entry by ISSS within the past year
  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)
  • Valid J-2 US Entry Visa
  • If traveling alone, copies of the J-1 student or scholar’s immigration documentation, including I-94
  • A National Interest Exception is required for students and scholars traveling from COVID-19 travel-restricted areas. Please consult with your local US embassy or consulate for instructions on applying for a National Interest Exception.

NOTE: Citizens of Canada are exempt from the US Entry Visa requirement. However, Canadian F-1 and J-1 students and scholars must present the SEVIS fee payment receipt for their initial entries to the U.S.

J-1 Professors/Research Scholars: scroll down to the section below under "Travel Difficulties and Resources" for information on the Notice of Absence form. 

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H-1B or O-1 Employees (and Dependents)

H-1B or O-1 Employees

  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)

  • Valid H-1B or O-1 visa stamp

  • Original valid Form I-797 H-1B or O-1 Notice of Approval

  • 2-3 most recent pay stubs or letter from supervisor confirming continued employment

  • Copy of I-129 petition

NB: Scholars for whom the University is filing a petition for H-1B extension or those changing from one H-1B employer to another should contact an ISSS advisor regarding their travel options.

H-4 or O-3 Dependents

  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)

  • Valid H-4 or O-3 visa stamp

  • Copy of primary's Form I-797 H-1B or O-1 Notice of Approval

  • Original Form I-797 H-4 or O-3 Notice of Approval if changed to or extended H-4 or O-3 status in the United State

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E-3 Employees & Dependents

E-3 Employees

  • Valid Australian passport (for more than 6 months from date of intended return)

  • Valid E-3 visa stamp

  • 2-3 most recent pay stubs or letter from supervisor confirming continued employment

  • Copy of valid LCA

  • Original valid Form I-797 E-3 Notice of Approval if changed to or extended E-3 status in the United States

  • Copy of I-129 petition if changed to or extended E-3 status in the United States

E-3D Dependents

  • Valid passport (for more than six months from date of intended return)

  • Valid E-3D visa stamp

  • Copy of primary's Form I-797 E-3 Notice of Approval if changed to or extended E-3 status in the United States

  • Original valid Form I-797 E-3D Notice of Approval if changed to or extended E-3D status in the United States

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TN Employees & Dependents

TN Employees

  • Valid Canadian or Mexican passport (for more than 6 months from date of intended return)
  • Valid TN visa stamp if Mexican national
  • Job offer letter specifying the Trade NAFTA profession and duration of employment
  • Requisite educational or occupational credentials such as diploma, license, etc.

TD Dependents

  • Valid passport (for more than 6 months from date of intended return)
  • Valid TD visa stamp if non-Canadian dependent
  • Marriage or birth certificate showing relationship to TN primary
  • Copy of spouse/ parent's job offer letter specifying the Trade NAFTA profession and duration of employment
  • If traveling alone, copies of the primary's (TN) immigration documentation, including I-94
For travel to the U.S.
Travel and Visa Support

If you are concerned about not being permitted to board your flight to the United States or being denied at the US Port of Entry, you may request a letter from your academic department confirming that you are seeking entry into the country under the sponsorship of the University of Pennsylvania. Please note that such a letter does not guarantee that you will be permitted entry into the United States and is only meant to provide additional documentation of your status as a Penn student. 

To request a support letter from your department, please contact your academic advisor or your admissions office, as each school or program may have its own policy and format for such support letters. Here is an example of a support letter from an academic department. You may also consider carrying a printed copy of your schedule. 

ISSS offers a general support letter containing the start date of the Fall 2021 semester and the date by which most students are expected to arrive. This does not guarantee that you will be granted an expedited visa appointment. 

ISSS is not able to conduct correspondence with your local U.S. Embassy/consulate or request an expedited visa interview appointment on your behalf. We understand that the situation at U.S. consulates/embassies around the world has been a source of great stress for many of our students and encourage you to inquire often about the availability of emergency visa interview appointments. 

Travel Difficulties & Resources

What's Next?

After this review you are ready to learn about obtaining your US Entry Visa.