During your time at Lehigh, you may decide to travel within the United States, return home or travel to other international destinations. Follow these procedures to ensure that you can return to Lehigh at the end of your trip.
OISS advises that continuing international students avoid any non-essential international travel in light of the ongoing pandemic and related travel restrictions and effects on visa processing at U.S. consulates overseas. If your visa has expired and you travel overseas, your risk of not being able to return is high due to U.S. consulate closures and the backlog of visa applications. You can review our COVID-19 Travel and FAQs page for more information.
Please be aware of the COVID-19 related travel restrictions and protocols established by the CDC as well as Lehigh's COVID-19 policy. It is recommended that you review the guidance prior to arranging any international travel.
International students and scholars traveling within the United States should always carry the documentation of their legal status. Specifically, we suggest that F-1 and J-1 visa holders should carry their Lehigh ID, valid Pennsylvania driver’s license or state ID (if any), passport, I-94, I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1), and the EAD (if on OPT).
H-1B visa holders should carry with them their passport, I-94, I-797 Approval Notices, and any Employment Authorization Documents (if any).
It has always been necessary for foreign nationals to present documentation of their entitlement to entry upon returning to the U.S. from international travel. We advise that F-1 and J-1 visa holders should carry their I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) endorsed for travel and signed by an advisor at OISS, passport valid for at least six months after the date of the re-entry, a valid F-1 or J-1 visa, and financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and/or living expenses
H-1B visa holders should carry with them their passport (with a valid H-1B visa), the original I-797 Approval Notice, their three most recent pay statements printed from Banner, as well as a complete copy of the H-1B petition (including the Certified Labor Conditions Application).
Each travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 is valid for one year. If you need a new signature on your document, please request a Travel Signature through iHome. If you are an F-1 student, your updated I-20 will be sent to you electronically. If you are a J-1 student or scholar, you will be notifed to schedule an appointment to pick up your DS-2019 or request that the document be mailed to you.
Note on Export Control
Export controls are federal regulations that limit the export of physical items, technology, data and information out of the U.S. for national security or economic reasons. Export control laws may apply when individuals travel outside the United States, depending on their destination, what they bring with them, and what they plan to do while abroad. Lehigh faculty, staff and students are responsible for engaging the Export Control Office as required when traveling on university business. Please review Research Integrity’s export control policies and guidance, particularly the information for faculty and the information for international travelers, to ensure that you comply with all relevant export control laws and university policies.
Requesting a New U.S. Entry Visa
To request a new visa from a U.S. consulate or embassy you should have with you the following items:
- I-20 or DS-2019 signed by OISS within the past 12 months
- Official Lehigh transcript and/or registration record for the next term
- Original financial guarantee (department letter, personal support, government letter) showing your ability to cover the cost of your schooling
- Verification letter stating full-time status issued by OISS (must be requested through iHome)
- A passport valid for at least six months after the date of re-entry
- Completed and signed Form DS-160.
- A receipt for visa processing fee. A receipt showing payment of the visa application fee for each applicant, including each child listed in a parent’s passport who is also applying for a U.S. visa, is needed.
- Proof you will be returning to your home country after your stay is completed in the U.S.
Automatic Visa Revalidation
Under the Automatic Visa Revalidation provision, F-1/J-1 visa holders and their dependents who travel for less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands in the Caribbean other than Cuba can re-enter the US with an expired visa. The adjacent islands include: Saint Pierre, Miquelon, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea.
To re-enter the US under automatic visa revalidation, students and scholars should carry with them the following documentation:
- A passport (with the expired visa) valid for at least six months beyond the date of re-entry
- An unexpired I-94
- F-1: A valid form I-20 with a valid travel signature on the second page by OISS
- F-1 on OPT: A valid EAD with a job offer letter
- J-1: A valid form DS-2019 with a valid travel signature by OISS
- H-1: Original H-1B approval notice (I-797), letter from employer verifying employment, and a copy of the H-1B petition
Please note that automatic visa revalidation is currently not available for nationals from Iran, Sudan, and Syria. Also, if you apply for a new visa while in Canada, Mexico or Adjacent Islands, you will not be eligible for the automatic visa revalidation and will need to wait until the new visa is granted to return to the U.S.
Depending on your country of citizenship, you may need to apply for a visa to enter Canada, Mexico and Adjacent Islands. Check with the embassy of the country you wish to visit to find out if you need a visa.
At a U.S. port of entry, if you are missing any required documentation (such as your I-20 or DS-2019) or you do not have the proper travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 from OISS prior to leaving the U.S., you may be denied entry into the U.S. As an alternative, the immigration officer has the discretion to issue you a Form I-515A, which allows you to have temporary admission into the U.S. for 30 days. If you are given such form, you must bring it to OISS as soon as you arrive on campus so that we can help you submit the necessary paperwork to SEVP I-515A processing team in Washington, DC.