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The most likely times for international students to travel, either inside or outside the U.S., are

  • Semester Break
  • Intersession -  the period between the end of the Fall semester and the start of the Spring semester, usually several weeks long;
  • March spring break week, usually around the middle of March
  • Summer Vacation, which begins at the end of the spring semester:

For information on the dates for breaks and intersession, please see theAcademic Calendar.

To make sure your immigration documents are valid for travel, please read below:

  • Please give the International Student & Scholar Center (ISSC) at least two weeks notice when asking for help with travel/immigration documents, except in emergencies. 
  • Only three officials on campus are authorized to sign your I-20 or DS-2019, and one must be available to give you a signature.  Please e-mail Pat Mooney at or the ISSC at  Contact us immediately if you have an emergency situation requiring you to leave the U.S. temporarily.
  • If you need to renew your entry visa, additional time will be required, since agencies outside the University will be involved. Please see the ISSC staff for assistance.  DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RE-ENTER THE U.S. IN TOURIST STATUS.
  • See special concerns regarding renewal of visas subject to Administrative Processing/Security Clearance
  • If you have changed your visa status, you will need a new entry visa in the new status.

Know Your Rights:  Please read the following prior to your travelling.  KYR Port of Entry Detention

What do I need when traveling inside the U.S. and returning?

When traveling locally--Dartmouth, Fall River, New Bedford--take copies of your documents with you.  See this Additional travel information for other tips about copying your documents.  Outside of the local area, you should carry a valid passport and a current, original I-20 signed for travel.  Please check with the International Student & Scholar Center (ISSC) if you are not sure about the status of your documents.

What do I need when traveling outside the U.S. and returning?

Original documents

  • Current, unexpired, passport, valid for at least six months beyond your date of return
  • Current, unexpired entry visa

Valid I-20 or DS-2019

  • Travel signature up to date?
  • Program end date on I-20 or DS-2019 valid beyond your date of return?
  • For students in Optional Practical Training (F-1) or Academic Training (J-1) does your form have the correct end date of your training period?

F-1 Students

For F-1 students on Post-completion Optional Practical Training, current Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) and proof of employment; OPT students awaiting approval of a STEM extension are not permitted to travel outside the U.S.  Please consult the International Student & Scholar Center (ISSC) if you have special circumstances.

J-1 Students

Approved Application/Authorization for Academic Training

Traveling to Canada

  • Citizens of some countries need visas to enter Canada, in addition to all your other paperwork for entering and studying in the U.S.
  • Even if you have an expired entry visa, you may still travel to Canada, Mexico, and the adjacent islands and return to the U.S. by using Automatic Revalidation, as long as the rest of your documentation is current and your visit to those places is not longer than 30 days.  Visit the Traveling To Canada link on the right.
  • IMPORTANT –  If you are planning to use Automatic Revalidation, please visit the International Student & Scholar Center (ISSC) so we can review your paperwork before you travel.  
  • Automatic Revalidation does not apply to citizens of Iran, Syria, and Sudan.  Check for updates to this list.
  • Students who have been denied a visa renewal at a U.S. Consulate in Canada are not eligible to use Automatic Revalidation, but must return to their home country.
  • Find Out If You Need a Visa
  • Visa Office in New York
  • It's All About Canada 

Related Links

Automatic Visa revalidation

Immigration Updates Immigration Scams Avoiding Immigration Scams


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