Helpful Guide for Students and Exchange Visitors Who Intend to Travel Outside of the United States
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has created a helpful guide for students and exchange visitors who intend to travel outside of the United States. The arrival procedures outlined in this guide, which can be found on the CBP WebSite, can help minimize waiting times at the U.S. ports of entry (POEs), and reduce the need for the issuance of the Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor (I-515A).
The I-515A is issued to students and exchange visitors attempting to enter the United States in F-1, M-1, and J-1 statuses when they forget the necessary travel paperwork or travel with unsigned or outdated travel documents. The form allows for lawful admission to the United States for a period of 30 days, during which time students must remit appropriate documentation. The failure to timely submit the required documentation may result in termination of the related Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) records.
According to the CBP, careful planning by students and exchange visitors can ensure that delays at the POE are minimal and reduce the need for issuance of the I-515A. It therefore would be better for everyone involved - the student / exchange visitor, the school, and the U.S. government - for F-1, M-1, and J-1 foreign nationals to travel with appropriate documents, as described below.
In addition, the CBP suggests that students in F-1, M-1, and J-1 status carry evidence of their student or exchange visitor status, such as recent tuition receipts, transcripts, and acceptance letters, as well as the name and contact information of the Designated School Official (DSO) or Responsible Officer (RO). It is also advisable that students and exchange visitors prepare their own affidavits, verifying the status of their travel documents.
Although these requirements are not new, many routinely forget to obtain proper documentation that would allow them to travel safely to the United States. While these individuals are fortunate that the I-515A procedure is in place, so that they may gain temporary admission to the United States, it would be best to avoid this process altogether. Those who are subject to these requirements should plan well in advance of travel to obtain proper documentation. In case of emergency, the documentation should be requested immediately all efforts should be made to have this in hand when seeking to reenter the United States.