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International Travel During COVID-19

The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new or concerning variants, differs from country to country. All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling. Whether you are leaving the United States, or arriving to begin your studies, please make sure you read all the recommendations below and are ready with all the requirements.

What you need to know 

More useful information

Health Alert – Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs 

Location: Worldwide:The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director has signed an order requiring all airline passengers traveling to the United States, including U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test or recovery from COVID-19.

Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide either a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel or providea positive test result and documentation from a licensed health care provider or public health official of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.  Passengers must also attest, under penalty of law, to having received a negative qualifying test result or to recovery from COVID-19 and medical clearance to travel.

See the  CDC Proof of Negative Test Result page to view the order, complete the attestation, and to see FAQ’s.

Airlines must deny boarding to passengers who do not meet these requirements.

U.S. citizens in countries where adequate COVID-19 testing is not available or may not be able to satisfy the requirements, should depart immediately or prepare to be unable to return to the United States until such time as they can meet the requirements.   

Actions to take:

FIU ISSS Important travel information during COVID time

If you are in your country and wish to start planning for your return to the United States,  or if you are in the United States and want to travel outside of the country, please be reminded that the ISSS Office is not the best source for travel information. The best sources are your airline, your local American Embassy, and the Center for Disease Control information. 

You will be required to follow FIU policies and guidelines when accessing any physical university premises regardless of where you travel from (across the street, local, national, international). FIU will only require a period of quarantine if it is required by local, state or federal health authorities. Please frequently visit the Panthers Protecting Panthers page  for the latest updates pertaining to travel guidelines.

In addition, outside of FIU’s premises, members of the FIU community must abide by guidelines and requirements of the respective local and state authorities such as Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida Health Department. This includes the mandatory wearing of face masks in public, the enforcement of curfews, quarantine periods etc.

For information about traveling to different countries around the word, you can visit the Department of State Travel website.


If leaving the United States as an international student, please make sure you read through the information below

  • Check your documents

    If you plan to travel abroad you will need the following documents at the time you reenter the U.S.

    F-1 Students Currently Enrolled

    • Unexpired passport
      Important: Students with dual citizenship MUST use the passport of the country that appears on your I-20 as your country of citizenship.
    • Valid F-1 visa stamp in passport (F-2 visa stamp for dependents)
      Important: If expired, you must apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate in your home country for use upon reentry.
    • Original and valid FIU SEVIS I-20 (with DSO/ISSS advisor signature less than twelve months old)
    • Evidence of financial resources (less than six months old)
    • Not required but recommended, especially if you have had problems at the port of entry in your previous travels:Current FIU academic transcript
    • Full-time enrollment letter from ISSS
    • Name and contact information for an FIU PDSO or DSO (ISSS advisor)

    F-1 Students Graduated and Currently on OPT

    • Unexpired passport
      Important: Students with dual citizenship MUST use the passport of the country that appears on your I-20 as your country of citizenship.
    • Valid F-1 visa stamp in passport (F-2 visa stamp for dependents)
      Important: If expired, you must apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate in your home country for use upon reentry.
    • Original and valid FIU SEVIS I-20 (with DSO/ISSS advisor signature less than six months old)
    • IMPORTANT: Effective spring 2005, SEVP changed their interpretation of a regulation contained in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(13)(ii). SEVP now considers an F-1 student who possesses an unexpired EAD but who is currently unemployed or does not have a job offer to be INELIGIBLE for reentry into the U.S. in F-1 status. Many port of entry officials share this interpretation. It is highly recommended to travel with:Employer’s letter confirming current employment or offer of employment (which is related to student’s field of study)

    NOTE: Students with an OPT application still pending who wish to travel after the program end date on the I-20 but before the OPT period begins should be aware that traveling at this time does pose some risk. Because of inconsistency and discrepancies in interpretation on the part of port of entry officials, ISSS recommends waiting until receipt of both the EAD and a job offer before making plans to travel. However, an I-797 Notice of Action: Receipt Notice from USCIS, which shows that a student’s OPT application is in process, along with a valid passport, F-1 visa and I-20 may be considered sufficient documentation to allow entry by many port of entry officials.

    J-1 Visa Holders

    • Unexpired passport
      Important: Students with dual citizenship MUST use the passport of the country that appears on your DS-2019 as your country of citizenship.
    • Valid J-1 visa stamp in passport (J-2 visa stamp for dependents)
      Important: If expired, you must apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate in your home country for use upon reentry.
    • Original and valid DS-2019 (with RO/ARO signature less than six months old)
    • Evidence of financial resources (less than six months old)
    • Not required but recommended, especially if you have had problems at the port of entry in your previous travels:For those in the student category, current FIU academic transcript
    • For scholars & researchers, copy of contract, if you have one
    • Name and contact information for an FIU RO or ARO (ISSS advisor)
  • Automatic Visa Revalidation

    Automatic Visa Revalidation is a special provision in the Department of State regulations which permits holders of F and J status with an original/valid Form I-94 to:

    • go to “contiguous territory” and return to the U.S. without a currently valid visa stamp in the passport OR
    • go to “adjacent island” and return to the U.S. without a currently valid visa stamp in the passport

    Contiguous territory” = Canada and Mexico
    “Adjacent Islands” = Angular, Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Barbuda, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Marie-Galante, Martinique, Miguel, Montserrat, Saba, Saint Bartholomew, Saint Christopher, Saint Estates, Saint Kitts-Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Marten, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands.

    Important: Automatic Revalidation is NOT available to students or scholars who are OUT OF STATUS.

    Automatic Revalidation Rules and Criteria

    • You must not be a citizen of a country that the Department of State determined to be a sponsor of terrorism. Countries currently on this list are Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.
    • Time outside the U.S. MUST (1) not exceed 30 days AND (2) be spent ONLY in contiguous territory or adjacent islands. You must be in possession at exit/reentry of a valid SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 and present it to US CBP officer at the port of entry.
    • You must be in possession at exit/reentry of a valid unexpired passport.
    • You must be in possession at exit/reentry of a valid Form I-94, either paper or electronic.
    • You must have maintained legal and valid F or J status while in the U.S. prior to travel and must resume legal and valid status upon reentry.
    • You must not be considered inadmissible to the U.S. under Section 212(a) or 212(d)(3)(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). If either one is noted in your expired visa in your passport, you are not eligible for automatic revalidation.
    • You MUST NOT apply for a visa at the U.S. Consulate in Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. A student or scholar who proceeds to apply for a visa: MUST be prepared to wait the entire period of processing including security checks, as necessary.
    • MUST be prepared to return to his/her home country should the application be denied. In this case, he/she is NOT eligible for automatic revalidation.

    NOTE: Travel to a third country from Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island is NOT PERMITTED. You must have the original Form I-94, if you still have the paper-based Form I-94 because your last entry into the U.S. with a visa was before May 2013. If your last entry was May 2013 or later you must have a valid electronic I-94 admission record in the USCBP database – you should print out a copy of this record at U.S Customs and Border Protection and retain this copy while traveling. If you are still in possession of a paper Form I-94 and you plan to use automatic revalidation, DO NOT SURRENDER your paper Form I-94 to an airline representative or other transportation entity. The original Form I-94 is REQUIRED to be eligible for reentry using automatic revalidation.

    IMPORTANT: An F or J visa holder who somehow gets admitted into the U.S. even though he or she did not meet the rules and criteria will be considered as having committed VISA FRAUD.Visa fraud is a deportable offense and an individual guilty of this offense is subject to removal from the U.S. and will not be eligible to be admitted any time in the future. 

  • Consular Affairs-Visa Application


    A Visa application is done at a U.S. consulate in your home country or country of permanent residence. There is no way to renew an F-1 or J-1 visa inside the U.S.

    It may be possible to apply in a country other than your home country (e.g. Mexico, Canada) as a “Third Country National” (TCN). You must check with the individual consulate to find out if they accept TCN applicants. Even if it is possible to make an appointment, applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa in a country other than your home country poses a risk. The chance the application will be denied is higher because the consular officer may be unable to properly evaluate whether or not you have strong enough ties to your home country in order to grant the visa.

    The decision on the visa application will vary depending on the length of security clearance processing and other procedures at the particular U.S. consulate at which you apply. In some cases, processing may take at least 30 to 60 days.

    Visa Application Documents


    • Application forms and fees: For specific info visit the U.S. Department of State
    • Passport valid at least 6 months into the future
    • Original SEVIS I-20 (F-1/F-2) or DS-2019 (J-1/J-2) issued within the last six months reflecting current cost estimates for the academic program (in the case of visa renewal, the student must request a new I-20 or DS-2019 from ISSS)
    • Original and current financial documents to prove sufficient funding
    • Proof of payment of SEVIS (I-901) fee, if applicant is subject to it
    • For dependents (F-2 or J-2), proof of relationship to principal (F-1 or J-1)
    • NOT required but MAY BE REQUESTED:Full-time enrollment certification
    • Current academic transcript

    Additional requirements for students on Post-Completion OPT:

    • Original EAD
    • Employer’s letter providing proof that student is engaged in employment directly related to student’s field of study
  • Visa Application Security Checks

    Consular Affairs may subject individual applicants to the following security clearances:

    • CLASS – Consular Lookout and Support System: Name check system for a general background clearance.
    • NCIC-III – National Crime Information Center’s Interstate Identification Index: A criminal database name check system.
    • TAL – Technology Alert List: A list designed as an effort to prevent the transfer of sensitive technology or material for the wrong purpose or into the wrong hands.
    • Visas Condor and Visas Mantis (Donkey or Eagle): Security clearance processes used by consulates to verify background information for certain applicants regarding security issues.

    Only about 2% of applicants are subject to Condor or Mantis checks. The security clearance may take a couple of weeks to a couple of months. While these clearances are usually intended for individuals working in areas that are described as sensitive fields related to U.S. security (such as chemistry, biological sciences and physics), and may focus on nationals of certain countries, the extent and scope of these clearances can sometimes go beyond these areas. Should you be subject to a security clearance, you will have to wait until it is completed before you can return to the U.S. It is important for you to know that in most cases no amount of intervention on the part of the university will speed up the unpredictable security clearance processing time.

  • U.S. Customs & Border Protection: Inspections at Port of Entry

    Secondary Inspections

    As long as all of your documents are in order, you will likely have no problem when attempting to reenter the U.S. However, the port of entry officials have the right to stop you and place you in Secondary Inspections when they are unsure about your admissibility to the U.S. for any reason, and this sometimes happens even when you have done nothing wrong. There is no way to predict whether you will be subject to this unexpected delay, which unfortunately may be anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.

    A USCBP officer may send a traveler to Secondary Inspections due to one of the following:

    1. The information provided indicates possible national security concerns.
    2. The information provided indicates other law enforcement concerns.
    3. Documentation presented is inappropriate or insufficient.
    4. BE AWARE: You will face an increased chance of secondary inspections if you have fallen out-of-status and are restarting your F-1 status by travel & reentry OR
    5. You have a history of status violation (multiple SEVIS terminations)

    REMEMBER: Stay calm. DO NOT panic. If you did not do anything wrong or did not violate any regulation, you need not worry.

    Form I-515A: Improper Documentation or SEVIS Errors

    U.S. Customs & Border Protection issues a Form I-515A in situations where a nonimmigrant arrives at a port of entry in the United States without all required documentation. When CBP issues a student a Form I-515A, the student’s I-94 Arrival/Departure Record will indicate an “admit until date” that is 30 days from the date of entry. Before the expiration of that period, the student must provide the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) the necessary documentation to prove lawful entry. SEVP must receive the original Form I-515A and required documents by mail prior to that date. If the documentation is not received in less than 30 days, SEVP will terminate the student’s SEVIS record which will immediately put the student out of status. Designated School Officials (international student advisors) will have no recourse or means to correct the record and the only options the student will have will be to apply for the reinstatement of his or her F-1 status through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or to leave the U.S. immediately. If you are given a Form I-515A when reentering the U.S., report to ISSS as soon as possible after arrival for assistance in resolving the issue.

    SEVIS (I-901) Fee

    Anytime you are issued an “initial attendance” I-20 with a new SEVIS ID (to restart your status after falling out of status, after a leave of absence of more than five months, or when your previous SEVIS record has been terminated or completed for any reason), you must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee again before using that I-20 to enter the U.S. Be sure to visit ISSS for further advising if you are traveling under this circumstance.

    For citizens of Canada and Bermuda, the SEVIS fee must be paid at least 3 days before appearing at the port of entry. For all others, the fee must be paid at least 3 days before the visa interview/application OR for those with valid visas but restarting F-1 status, at least 3 days before reentry. Always travel with the receipt showing the SEVIS fee has been paid.

    In case you haven’t thought of it…If you plan to travel to a country other than your country of citizenship or permanent residence you may be required to obtain a tourist/entry visa from the embassy/consulate of that country. Contact that country’s embassy or consulate for more information about how to apply.

    It is important to realize that admission into a country other than your own country of citizenship or lawful permanent residence is a PRIVILEGE. It is NOT a right.

  • Travel Health Notices and Vaccinations when Traveling Outside the United States

    When traveling outside the United States, we want you to be safe and healthy. It is important to be aware of any health concerns travelers should be aware of and what vaccinations are required by the government of your destination. For a list of current health notices and required vaccinations, travelers are expected to have when entering a specific country, visit the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. You may use the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) as proof of the vaccinations you have received. An immigration officer may request, deny or prevent a traveler from leaving the United States or enter your desired destination due to missing or expired vaccinations.

  • Web resources