Holiday travel planning for foreign nationals

Foreign national employees and visitors planning to travel abroad during the holiday season must begin to plan their travel as soon as possible to ensure all of their documents are in order. The following checklist is designed to bring your attention to the most important travel-related issues.

  1. Generally, your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your visit end date. Please make sure you have sufficient passport validity remaining before reentering the US after travel abroad.
  2. The visa stamp in your passport must be valid and reflect your current status. For example, if the last time you entered the US you had an F-1 student visa, but have since changed your status to H-1B, you must apply for and receive an H-1B visa stamp at a US consulate abroad before returning to the US.
  3. If your green card application is currently pending, please contact the visa office in advance of your travel to discuss any questions you may have about your or your family’s ability to re-enter the US.
  4. If a change of status petition is currently pending on your behalf and will not be approved before your travel abroad, please contact the Visa Office immediately, as you must avoid leaving the US while your change of status is still being adjudicated.
  5. If friends or relatives plan to visit you using a Visa Waiver program, make sure they register with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization at least 72 hours before departure.
  6. If you or someone coming to visit you in the US is a Chinese national travelling on a 10-year visitor visa, make sure you or they are registered with the Electronic Visa Update System at least 72 hours prior to departure.

In addition, please remember the following tips:

  1. If applying for a new or renewal visa during the holiday season, please expect a possibility of visa issuance delays due to heightened demand.
  2. If an additional security clearance is usually required for your visa, please plan on this clearance taking longer than usual.
  3. Upon arrival in the US, please remain calm, patient, and polite regardless of the officer’s attitude. Expect intense questioning of your motives, travel history, background, employment, and other issues. Please answer questions clearly and to the point, do not elaborate beyond the exact question. If you do not understand something, politely ask for clarification.
  4. Ensure the oval admission stamp in your passport reflects the correct status and validity date, and check this information once again when you obtain the electronic I-94 document online at the CBP website.

You may always view the most current immigration alert on our website. Travel smart and safe. Happy holidays!