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Traveling & Education Abroad 

These resources can help you travel confidently and safely while you are a student.

Please make sure that your I-20 has a valid signature on page two for your re-entry to the United States (U.S.), if you plan to travel outside of the U.S. during the summer break. Pam Jaisingh’s signature or Denice Copher’s is valid for one year (if you had your I-20 signed by either one of us during fall break and you plan to travel outside of the U.S. this spring, you will not need to have it signed again).

If you depart from the U.S. and your visa has expired, please make sure you contact the American Embassy for a new visa. 

  • You must renew your visa before returning to the U.S. However, if your visa has expired while you remain a student at MSU and you do not plan to travel outside of the U.S., you DO NOT NEED TO WORRY ABOUT YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS
  • You may remain in the U.S. with an expired visa, provided you maintain your enrollment status for international students and follow the regulations governing your F-1 visa.
  • You will need to renew your visa ONLY if and when you leave the U.S. and plan to return.

Before Studying Abroad

An F-1 student is permitted to study abroad after completing their first term at a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school. If for any reason, the student plans to study abroad before they have begun their U.S. studies, then their F-1 status will not begin until they have entered the United States to study at a SEVP-certified school.

While Studying Abroad

If a student remains enrolled in a full course of study during the study abroad program, their status will be listed as active in SEVIS. Remind your students that if they remain outside the United States for more than five months, they should consult a U.S. embassy or consulate near them to determine if a new visa is needed for their return. Only if a student's current visa is no longer valid, does the student possibly need to apply for and receive a new one.

While the student is technically still in active status, SEVP cannot ensure that the student will not be questioned about their length of time away due to the five-month rule. The student may be questioned about their length of time away at either the U.S. embassy or consulate or at the U.S. port of entry.

On the other hand, if a student takes a leave of absence from their U.S. studies and will not remain enrolled as an F-1 student, their study abroad should be reported as a temporary absence in SEVIS. Upon their return to the United States, the DSO will need to request to change their status back to active in SEVIS.

SEVP recently adjusted the timeframe DSOs have to request this change in SEVIS. Now, DSOs can submit a request to change an F-1 student’s SEVIS record to active up to 60 days in advance of the student’s return from a temporary absence.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact the SEVP Response Center.

Learn more about MSU's Education Abroad Program