World map with airline routes

ALERT:

Currently Berkeley International Office recommends minimizing international travel due to the rapidly-changing nature of U.S. immigration policy. For important information regarding current U.S. immigration policy, Executive Orders, and travel advisories please see BIO's Immigration Policy Updates & FAQ webpage.

United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) announced on Friday, March 3, 2017 that it will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions filed with USCIS on or after April 3, 2017. Read BIO's announcement on this change.

    

Required Documents

Passport

Your passport must be valid at least six months into the future at all times, especially upon initial entry or re-entry to the U.S.  If yours will expire soon, contact your home country's embassy in the U.S.  

U.S. Entry Visa

The visa stamp in your passport should be valid on the date of your return to the U.S. (It does not, however, need to remain valid during your stay in the U.S.) If you have an old, expired passport with a valid U.S. entry visa, you do not need to get a new visa stamp in your new passport as long as you carry both passports when you enter the U.S. Canadian citizens do not need a U.S. visa. Canadian landed immigrants, however, are required to obtain U.S. entry visas. See also Understanding Your Visa.

A J-1 Exchange Visitor should only enter the U.S. with a visa showing the school's (or program) name noted on it, even if the visa has not yet expired. If you change schools, obtain a visa with the new name noted on it before entering or re-entering the U.S. 

Evidence of Financial Support

It is strongly recommended that F/J non-immigrants carry proof of the financial support and resources reflected on the Form I-20 or DS-2019.

F-1/F-2, J-1/J-2 documents:

Make sure your form I-20 or DS-2019 has been PROPERLY ENDORSED (signed within one year of your intended re-entry date) by the school official or agency that issued the document. Berkeley International Office generally recommends that the signature be current within 10 months of your re-entry date. (Those on F-1 OPT must have the endorsement within past 6 months). If UC Berkeley issued your I-20 or DS-2019, bring it to Berkeley International Office for endorsing. Those with an I-20 or DS-2019 issued by another program sponsor will need to contact that sponsor at least two or three weeks before departure to obtain the necessary travel signature.  

It is also recommended that students travel with proof of the current or next semester's registration (e.g., a TeleBears printout of full-time class enrollment, Enrollment Verification from Cal Student Central).

SEVIS (I-901) Fee Payment

It is also recommended to travel with proof of your SEVIS fee payment. If you need confirmation of your previous SEVIS fee payment,visit the SEVIS fee payment page and select the option to "Check I-901 Status/ Print Payment Confirmation."

I-94 Arrival/Departure Record

Please see Understanding the I-94 for imporant information about the I-94 arrival/departure record. Upon arrival in the U.S., the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will examine your passport, visa and other entry documents . The CBP Officer will generally issue a passport admission stamp and make a notation of the type of status being given as well as an expiration date. For F-1 and J-1 students and scholars, the expiration notation called "D/S" (duration of status) will be given. Keep your passport in a safe location. The passport admission stamp is proof of legal entry into the U.S.

If there are any problems during entry, please notify Berkeley International Office as soon as you arrive.

Student and Scholars First Time Entry

When to Arrive

We recommend that you arrive at least one week before classes begin.
Plan ahead! Refundable tickets are a good option should delays arise.

When making travel plans, please be aware that F-1 and J-1 visa holders entering the U.S. for a new program, may not enter the U.S. earlier than 30 days before the start date of the I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) document.

Students or visiting researchers/faculty who are either continuing an on-going program or transferring from another U.S. school to UC Berkeley are not subject to the 30-day arrival limit.

When traveling, carry documents in carry-on luggage with you!  If the baggage is lost or delayed, the documents will not be shown and, as a result, a student or scholar may not be able to enter the United States.

Required Documents

Be prepared to present the following documents to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer:

  • Passport (valid for at least 6 months into the future) with a valid nonimmigrant visa (if applicable)
  • Original form I-20 or DS-2019
  • Evidence of financial resources (see Required Funding Documentation)
  • Proof of UC Berkeley admission (new students) or enrollment (current students)

Special Cases

Special Concerns

In the following cases, consult with a Berkeley International Office advisor at least two weeks before departure:

  • You will be out of the U.S. for more than five months (students) or more than one month (J scholars)
  • You are considering traveling to Mexico or Canada to renew or change the U.S. entry visa.
  • Your I-20 or DS-2019 has expired or will expire within 30 days of your expected return to the U.S.
  • You are currently applying or have applied in the past for U.S. legal permanent resident status (green card).

Returning to the U.S. using "Automatic Revalidation"

"Automatic Revalidation" allows F, J, H, or O status holders under certain circumstances to re-enter the U.S. with an expired U.S. visa stamp in their valid passport after visiting Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands for less than 30 days. Please speak with an Advisor at Berkeley International Office and review our information regarding Automatic Visa Revalidation before making your travel plans.

Travel and Re-Entry from the U.S.

Travel to Other Countries

Other countries may require a visa and/or immunizations to enter their country. Before your departure, contact the nearest consulate or embassy of the country(ies) you plan to visit for updated information.

Travel Inside the U.S.

We strongly recommend that you carry a valid passport, paper I-94 card or passport admission stamp, your I-20 or DS-2019 and proof of current registration or program. Non-registered students or visitors should obtain verification of their current good standing with their department.

Entry to the U.S. infographic PDF

 

Click the above image for an infographic on entering the U.S. 

OPT / STEM / AT

OPT, STEM extension, or Academic Training (AT) students

F-1 OPT studebts should carry the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and proof of current employment or an employment offer.  See Traveling on OPT for more detailed instructions.

J-1 Students on post-completion Academic Training should see Traveling on Academic Training for detailed instructions.

H-1B / TN / O-1

Individuals with UC Berkeley-Sponsored H-1B, TN, or O-1

In order to receive the appropriate travel documents and instructions, contact Berkeley International Office by email at H1B@berkeley.edu at least five working days before you travel.