Ask an Advisor: Traveling this Winter (Part 1)

October 16, 2020

Written by: Ezinne Arizor, International Student and Scholar Advisor

Question: Should I travel home during winter break?

Answer:  Believe it or not, the end of 2020 is fast approaching and some of you may already be making plans to travel home for winter break. While going home is certainly an enticing prospect, we urge you to first consider the current situation before you commit to travel. Here are a few points for your consideration:

  1. Government and University Policies: As many of you know, ICE announced policies for Fall 2020 that allowed most students to study remotely and maintain F-1 status. However, we do not know if this policy will continue through Spring 2021. As neither the US government nor the university has announced plans for Spring 2021, be sure to plan your travel with caution and an awareness that a new policy may affect your status.
  2. COVID-19 Travel Policies: In light of the current pandemic, you should double-check your home country’s policies on international travel and any quarantining requirements before you go home. You should also check to see if the US has any policies regarding travel from your country that may hinder your ability to return.
  3. Expired F-1 Visa: While in some countries, routine visa services at US embassies and consulates have resumed, there are countries where the US embassy or consulate is still not processing things like F-1 visas. If you have an expired F-1 visa, think twice about traveling outside of the US, as you may not be able to get it renewed.

If you do ultimately decide to travel internationally, be sure that both your passport and F-1 visa are still valid. Most importantly, you should have a recent travel signature signed by an OISS advisor on Page 2 of your I-20. We highly recommend getting a travel signature in either late November or early December, within 30 days of your planned travel date. Having a recent travel signature shows proof that you are currently in good standing with your visa status, so we also recommend getting a signature every time you travel.

Keep an eye out for additional information about travel as we continue to assess the situation as we move closer to winter break. Be sure to contact your OISS advisor if you have any questions about travel.