International Student: Travel Abroad and in U.S.

This section on Travel includes guidance in the following circumstances:

  • Leaving the U.S. for vacation or other breaks
  • Travel in the United States
  • Local Travel

Leaving the U.S. for vacation or other breaks

  • Leaving - You can leave the U.S. anytime that you need to.  However, you must get a travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 before you depart if you will be returning (after a semester break or summer vacation) to resume your studies
  • Returning: 
    • You must have with you your passport with a valid visa and current I-20
    • Travel signatures - To come back to the U.S., you’ll need a current travel signature from the ISA on the second page of your I-20 to certify to the officer at the Port of Entry that you have maintained your status and that you are returning to resume studies or Optional Practical Training. While you are still in your academic program, a travel signature is valid for a year. Email your ISA to request an updates I-20 with a digital travel signature.  Travel signatures no longer need to be wet. Guidance allows your ISA to sign digitally but you need to provide a wet signature so after you print the I-20 then sign and date it with a blue pen on page 1 under Student Attestation.

Travel in the United States

While you are a student in the U.S., I hope you will have a chance to see some of the sights before you have to leave – San Francisco, New York City, the Grand Canyon, New Orleans, Las Vegas. There is much to see and do with your friends and family.

  • For travel in the U.S.
    • Passport and Identification - You will need proper ID (passport or state issued ID) when traveling by plane or train in the U.S.
    • I-20 - You generally do not have to have your original I-20 with you, but it is wise to have a copy. One exception – if you are traveling near the U.S. border (within 100 miles), have your original I-20 and your passport with you. The Border Patrol has checkpoints inside the U.S. on major highways near the Mexican and Canadian borders.
    • I-94 - You should also have your most recent I-94 with you. Image on your phone is probably sufficient.
  • Local travel – visit the Pomona College Transportation page for information about getting around
  • Driver’s License – California does not require that you get a California license to drive in the state as long as you have a license from your country of residence. It is wise, however, to have an International Driving Permit (IDP), especially if your license is not in English. The IDP, which is slightly larger than a passport is a multi-language translation of the driver's license from the issuing nation, complete with photograph and vital statistics.

    If you are going to drive a lot or intend to purchase a car, it is recommended that you get a California driver’s license (CA DL). The International Student Life at Pomona College has great information about how to get a driver's license.  Additional information is available at the California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).  Select Apply for a driver license if you are over 18.