Spring break! Time to get out of East Lansing, catch some rays on a cruise ship, eat some tamales in Mexico, or visit your friends and family in your home town. Wherever you are going, the staff at OISS is jealous (for we will still be here toiling away at the mountain of paperwork on our desks!), but I digress to – yes – your immigration status.

While I don’t blame you for wanting to be focused on the much loved tamale, you still need to take the time to make sure you have all the necessary immigration documents for travel:

  • Passport
  • Valid I-20/DS-2019 With Travel Signature
  • Valid Visa Stamp

Passport: You can thank King Henry the 5th for This Requirement

When you return to the United States (U.S.) you must have a passport that is valid at least 6 months into the future from the date that you return. For example, say you return to the U.S. on August 6, 2012. This means that at the airport the port of entry official should be able to see that your passport is valid until at least February 5th, 2013.

If you need to renew your passport, please contact the embassy of your home country for instructions on how to do so.

Valid I-20/DS-2019 With a Travel Signature: We’re not Mick Jagger or Neil Armstrong but You Still Need Our Autograph

Upon your return to the U.S. you will need your valid I-20 or DS-2019. Additionally, you will need a travel signature on your document from a member of the OISS staff (you guessed it) no older than 6 months from the day you return to the U.S. Travel signatures are easy to get and can be given anytime during regular business hours (8am-5pm), Monday through Friday. We are located in Room 105 on the first floor of the international center.

Valid Visa:Yes, she knows it’s a multipass. Anyway, we’re in love” – Quote from the movie Fifth Element

Your visa stamp is the document that allows you to exit and enter the U.S. at will. For most travel scenarios you will need to make sure you visa stamp is valid on the day you return to the United States.

If it will not be, you will need to get your visa renewed at a U.S. consulate while abroad: http://oiss.isp.msu.edu/students/travel/. Please note that there are some scenarios in which you may return to the United States without a valid visa. This benefit is called Automatic Revalidation: http://oiss.isp.msu.edu/students/travel/autorevalid.htm.

Alright that about sums it up, enjoy your Spring break!

Courtney Poles is an International Student and Scholar Advisor in the Office for International Students and Scholars. When Courtney is not processing visa paperwork and sifting through e-mail, she is rock and ice climbing, cooking up a storm, and scouring the internet for the random facts sure to win her fame on Jeopardy! ® and the affection of Alex Trebek.