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International Students


Program Center

Deputy Hall 103
Summer office hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (M-F)
Office hours (during the Academic Year): 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (M-F)
Phone: 218.755.4096
Fax: 218.755.2074

Mailing Address:
1500 Birchmont Dr. NE #13
Bemidji, MN 56601-2907


International Students


Visits Abroad and Re-entry in F-1 Status

If you wish to leave the United States temporarily and return to continue studies at BSU, you must secure the necessary documents to:

  • Permit entry to another country
  • Permit for re-entry to the United States

Entry into another country

  • Countries have rules and restrictions on who can enter their country and how.
  • International students who wish to visit their country of citizenship or permanent residence generally will be allowed to enter that country if they hold a valid passport or other travel documents issued by that country.
  • For travel into any country other than their home country, students must check with the Embassy of the country they would like to visit to inquire about specific entry procedures.
  • The U.S. Department publishes Publication 7846, "Foreign Consular Offices in the United States," which contains a complete list of foreign consular offices, their addresses, and telephone numbers.
  • to see this publication on the Web.
  • is a site that provides links to the web sites of many foreign embassies in the United States.

Entry into Canada and Mexico

Mexico and Canada have distinct entry requirements.

*Note: The lack of a valid Form I-20 will not prevent the student's departure for the United States; it may however, prevent the student from entering Canada or Mexico. A duplicate Form I-20, which lacks the expected admission stamps, may be insufficient for the student to obtain entry to Canada or Mexico.

Re-entry to the United States

Temporary Absence

  • A "temporary" absence for the purpose of readmission with an endorsed Form I-20 is defined as an absence of 5 months or less. A student must be re-entering the United States to resume his or her program of study.
  • If a student has completed his or her program of study, he or she has no basis for re-entry to the United States as an F-1 student unless he or she has either been admitted to a new program of study and has been issued the corresponding Form I-20 or USCIS has authorized optional practical training after completion of studies.
  • In the latter case, a returning student is required to present both an endorsed Form I-20 and an EAD at the port of entry to qualify for readmission to the United States. Verification of existing employment may also be required.
  • If an EAD has not been issued and the student has exceeded the " expected date of completion" (Form I-20 item 5), the student has no basis for being readmitted in F-1 status.

List of Documents for Re-entry

In order to re-enter the United States after a temporary absence of 5 months or less, an F-1 student must have the following documents:

  • Valid Passport or travel documents
  • Valid F-1 Visa (unless exempt from the visa requirement)
  • Either a properly endorsed Form I-20, if there has been no substantial change in the information contained in items 4,5,7, and 8 other than the date the student is expected to report to the school (the student has presumably reported and begun his or her program) OR a new Form I-20, if there has been such change.

Discussion or Re-entry Documents:

Valid Passport or Travel Documents:

  • F-1 students seeking re-entry to the United States must have a valid passport or travel document.

Valid F-1 Visa:

  • A student subject to the visa requirement must have a valid F-1 visa in his or her passport in order to re-enter the United States.
  • A student who entered the United States in another non-immigrant classification and has changed his or her status to that of an F-1 student must obtain an F-1 visa in his or her passport before re-entering the country.
  • It is not possible to obtain an F-1 visa inside the United States.
  • An F-1 student who needs to obtain a visa in order to enter the United States after absence must apply for the visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad.
  • Although it is possible for an alien to obtain an F-1 visa in a country other than his or her own, the student may face more stringent requirements that in the home country.
  • In addition to proving eligibility for an F-1 visa, he or she may have to provide the Consular office with evidence of a legitimate reason for making the application outside the home country.
  • In some instances, the consular officer in the third country will find it necessary to check the consular office in the students place of residence. This can be time-consuming and result in a charge to the student if information is requested by cable rather than diplomatic mail.

*Note:Returning students should be advised to make travel plans to allow for such delays.

Different school name on the I-20

  • If an F-1 student has lawfully transferred schools while in the United States, the visa will specify the school for which it was initially issued and a student may re-enter with an unexpired F-1 visa from the new school with out having the new school's name annotated on the visa.

Properly Endorsed Form I-20 or new Form I-20

  • For re-entry, a student must have Form I-20, endorsed for travel by the DSO (LaMae Ritchie) within the preceding twelve months.
  • Although Form I-20 indicates a validity period of one year for travel signatures, 8 C.F.R. § sets a validity period of 6 months for travel signatures on I-20's used by students on post-completion OPT.

*Note:Citizens of countries that keep the old passport upon issuance of a new one are at a disadvantage when traveling to contiguous territories.