Travel Information

COVID-19 UPDATES
 

For students and scholars currently in the United States, we urge caution when considering international travel. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve in unpredictable ways, global travel restrictions, changing public health guidance, and immigration policy shifts may impact students' and scholars' ability to re-enter the United States or enter the country for the first time.

Update 1/12/2022: The Biden administration has issued a proclamation that revoked the US travel ban for individuals who had been present in eight countries in Southern Africa. At this time, there are no longer any country-specific travel bans for travel to the U.S. Instead of country specific bans, the Biden administration has shifted the eligibility basis to enter the United States to U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on COVID-19 vaccination and negative testing. The CDC’s general page for COVID-19 exposure related to travel can be found on the CDC website.

Update 12/06/2021: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have introduced new testing requirements for inbound air travelers to the U.S. Per the CDC, "All air passengers 2 years or older with a flight departing to the US from a foreign country at or after 12:01am EST (5:01am GMT) on December 6, 2021, are required show a negative COVID-19 viral test result taken no more than 1 day before travel, or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, before they board their flight." See the full guidance on the CDC website. For comprehensive information on entering the United States by air, please see the following CDC resource page: Non-U.S. citizen, Non-U.S. immigrants: Air Travel to the United States

 

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If you travel without an I-20 /DS-2019 or it is outdated, you may be issued a Form I-515A (with an I-94 valid for just 30 days) by a CBP officer.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

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

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

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

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

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 and embassies around the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a great inconvenience for many of our students and scholars. We 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.