Travel Out of Country
Planning to do some traveling while at Otero?
Students often take advantage of the breaks between semesters to do some traveling while they attend Otero. If your plans include traveling out of the country or within the country, there are some important documents you will need to have. Review the follow list carefully to ensure that your travel plans are not spoiled by missing documents.
All F-1 students must have a valid travel signature from the Director of International Relations or Vice President of Student Services on page 2 of their I-20 in order to re-enter the United States. Travel signatures are valid for one calendar year, or until the completion of your program, whichever comes first. If you need a new signature, please request one at least two weeks before you plan to travel.
Note: You need a signature even if you are just traveling across the border into Canada or Mexico.
You will need to receive a new I-20 from the International Relations Office if there have been any changes in your situation—for example, in your or source(s) of financial support—that are not indicated on your current I-20. In all cases, updated financial documentation will be required to process your new I-20.
Check your completion date in section 5 of your I-20 to see whether it is about to expire. If it is and you have not yet completed your program you will need to apply for an extension through the International Relations Office.
Is the U.S. visa stamp in your passport valid beyond the date you plan to reenter the United States? If not, you must apply for a new visa while you are abroad. We strongly advise you to carry the following documents with you when applying for a new visa at a U.S. Consulate:
- Official Transcript issued by Otero College.
- Certificate of Enrollment issued by the International Relations Office.
- Valid I-20 issued and signed by the Director of International Relations.
- Current financial documentation: documents indicating the source(s) and amount(s) of financial support for your study in the current academic year. This must match the information listed on your I-20.
As U.S. Consulates will not be open on certain days during the Christmas–New Year’s holiday period, there may be difficult time constraints on obtaining a new visa during winter break.
Note: If you intend to apply for a new U.S. Visa in Canada or Mexico and are not a resident of either country, please contact the Director of International Relations to discuss this possibility. If you need to apply for a new U.S. Visa, visit the Department of State’s U.S. Embassies and Consulates section for an updated list.
Visitors’ Visas—for Travel to Countries Other than Your Home Country
If you are traveling to a country other than your home country, you may need a visitor’s or transit visa. To find out, visit that country’s embassy website at Foreign Embassies of Washington, D.C. and search for the Consular Section nearest you. If you are traveling to the E.U. and your home country is not within the E.U., you may apply for the Schengen Visa, which permits travel within E.U. countries.
After completing your academic program
If you plan to travel to Canada or anywhere else outside of the U.S. during the grace period following completion of your degree requirements, the International Relations Office will not be able to sign your I-20 for travel. If you travel outside of the U.S., you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. as an F-1 student at Otero College.
Travel during Optional Practical Training
At the present, USCIS processing of applications for Optional Practical Training takes at least 3–4 months. You will need to plan your travel accordingly. Once you receive your EAD, you may travel outside of the U.S. but be sure to travel with your signed I-20, job offer letter and your EAD. The OPT recommendation on page 2 of your I-20 validates the travel signature for six (6) months. We strongly advise that you consult with the Director of International Relations regarding travel while on OPT prior to making plans to travel outside the U.S.