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Get your I-20 signed BEFORE you leave!

Before you leave

  • Bring the following documents with you

    • A valid passport at the time of re-entering the United States – Renew your passport through your consulate or embassy if needed (U.S. law requires passports from many countries to be renewed 6 months before the expiration date).
    • A valid U.S. visa at the time of re-entering the United States. If you are returning from Canada or Mexico, you are allowed to reenter the United States with an expired visa and valid passport unless you meet any one of the following criteria, 8 CFR 214.1(b)(3) mandates that you cannot automatically revalidate your visa:
      • You applied for a new visa, and DoS has not issued it.
      • You applied for a new visa, and DoS denied it.
      • You have a terminated SEVIS record indicating that you are out of status.
      • You have been out the United States for more than thirty days.
      • You are a citizen of one of the following countries:
        • Cuba
        • Iran
        • North Korea
        • Sudan
        • Syria
    • A valid I-20 with a signature from ISP professional staff who are Designated School Officials (DSO): Britt Nelson, Luyen Phan, Molly Rochon.

    Other recommended documentation:

    • Letter of good academic standing
    • Financial support letters
    • Transcript

  • Get your I-20 signed

    Stop by ISP and get your I-20 signed EVERY TIME before you leave the country by Aaron, Britt, Luyen, or Molly. If you leave for longer than 5 months and do not continue enrollment at Macalester (i.e., you take a leave of absence), you must have a new I-20 issued in order to re-enter the U.S.

  • Check your visa requirements

    Many countries require visitors to obtain visas before they enter. A visa, however, is not a guarantee of entry as the immigration official at arrival has the right to refuse entry. Visas are issued by consular offices of a government and may takes months. A processing fee is usually required when you apply for a visa.

    If your U.S. visa has expired and you want to visit Canada, Mexico, or other adjacent islands except Cuba, please read the Automatic Extension of Visa Validity Law or Automatic Revalidation and bring it along with you, since many officials are not aware of it. Automatic Extension is only available to on trips that are 30 says or less. Additional details on Automatic Revalidation can be found at the US Dept of State site. Further information about re-entry into the U.S. can be found at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) travel re-entry page.


    1. Automatic Revalidation does not apply to students from states that sponsor terrorism (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria).
    2. Automatic Revalidation also does not apply if any student has applied for a non-immigrant visa in Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands during their trip.
    3. Automatic Revalidation does not work for cruises if the ship goes to countries that are not contiguous territory or adjacent island lists mentioned above and you get off the ship to enter that country. You will need to make sure you have a valid visa in order to return to the U.S. at the end of the cruise.

    Many countries require documentation of a clean criminal record before you are allowed to enter the country. You can obtain your Minnesota criminal history record by visiting the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension website and their office in downtown St. Paul.

Common Visas

Transit Visas

  • Do you need a transit visa?

    A transit visa is a short term visa granted to travellers who are passing through (but not staying in) a country. Some countries require transit visas or documents even for a short layover in an airport of that country. It is always a good idea to check the visa restrictions for any country you may have a layover (stopover) in before purchasing your plane tickets.

    Canada and the United Kingdom are two countries which commonly require some form of transit documentation or prior approval.

    *Canada and the UK are not the only countries that require transit visas, but they are only common examples. Be sure to check the regulations regarding any and all countries you may transit through on your travels*

Helpful Travel Links