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Office of Visa & Immigration Service AdvisingEntering and Re-Entering to the US

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Dragas Hall with students going to class


Travel Advisory & Vaccine Requirement to Travel to the US

COVID-19 TEST

All air travelers aged two and older, regardless of nationality or vaccination status, are required to show documentation of a negative viral test result taken within one day of the flight's departure to the United States before boarding. You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight. That includes all travelers - U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and foreign nationals. Read more here.

COVID-19 VACCINATION REQUIREMENT

All non-immigrant, non-citizen air travelers to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to the United States.

If you are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you will NOT be allowed to board a flight to the United States, unless you meet the criteria for an exception under the Proclamation and CDC's Order.

Categories of noncitizen nonimmigrants that meet the criteria for an exception under the Proclamation and CDC's Order include:

  • Persons on diplomatic or official foreign government travel
  • Children under 18 years of age
  • Persons with documented medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials
  • Persons issued a humanitarian or emergency exception
  • Persons with valid visas [excluding B-1 (business) or B-2 (tourism) visas] who are citizens of a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18 years of age)
  • Sea crew members traveling with to a C-1 and D nonimmigrant visa
  • Persons whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, or Secretary of Homeland Security (or their designees)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE: REQUIREMENTS FOR AIR TRAVELERS TO THE US DEPARTMENT OF STATE: Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 Vaccinations and Testing Requirement CDC: Non-U.S. citizen, Non-U.S. immigrants: Air Travel to the United States Accepted COVID-19 vaccines

Expansion of Visa Interview Waivers

H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visas: Consular officers are authorized through the end of 2022 to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain temporary employment nonimmigrant visa applicants. Please read the annoucement in detail here.

F, M, and academic J visas:

Consular officers have discretion to waive the interview for F, M, and academic J visa applicants who were previously issued any type of visa, and who have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived, and who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility; or first-time F, M, and academic J visa applicants who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in VWP and who have previously traveled to the United States via an ESTA authorization, provided they have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility. Please read the annoucement in detail here.


You will need an I-20 from ODU and SEVIS payment confirmation (make a payment at fmjfee.com) to make an appointment at a US Consulate.

  1. Apply for an F-1 visa:
    • Complete Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 - Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application, and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
    • Photo -You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
    • Schedule an Interview - You should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. Click HERE for Appointment Wait times.

Remember that a valid visa is necessary to ENTER the U.S. If your visa stamp expires while you are here, or entered with a visa marked with 'single entry,' you are here legally as long as you have a valid passport and a valid I-20/DS-2019.

Student Visa Renewal

If you have an expired visa stamp and want to travel abroad, you must apply for a new visa in your country. You cannot renew your visa stamp in the United States.

  1. Visit the web site of the consulate where you will make your visa application to verify the procedure and necessary documentation before leaving the U.S.
  2. We suggest you have the following documentation:
    • valid passport
    • original financial documentation
    • all previous and current I-20s/DS-2019s
    • ODU transcript
    • documentation from your academic advisor about what classes you have completed for your degree and what classes remain
    • I-797 approval notice (if you have changed to F or J status in the U.S.)
    • I-901 SEVIS fee receipt. SEVIS Fee receipt can be downloaded at: fmjfee.com
    • one passport-sized photograph (some consulates may require two photographs)
  3. Bear in mind that you will have to go through an interview. Unfortunately, it is not guaranteed that the U.S. consulate will renew your visa or even that you will be able to enter the U.S. even after getting the visa, although the likelihood of those two scenarios is very small. We recommend following these 10 points when applyig for a student visa.
10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Student Visa

Administrative Processing

A consular officer may make the determination that your visa application requires additional review, above and beyond the normal processing. Your application may be placed under administrative processing for many different reasons, and it means that your visa issuance will be delayed. The State Department claims that most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview.

When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visa, well in advance of the anticipated travel date.

A select list of videos available through U.S. Embassy websites (from NAFSA)

Documents Required to Travel:

  1. Valid passport: Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of re-entry in the U.S.
  2. Valid visa stamp: A valid visa is necessary to ENTER the U.S.
  3. SEVIS Form I-20/DS-2019. You and each member of your family must have a SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 to return to the U.S.
  4. Evidence of financial support: your personal bank statement, scholarship letter, etc. to prove you can afford to live and study in the U.S.

All new and returning international students beginning a new program of study must present their visa and immigration paperwork prior to course registration.

Check-In Dates and Details
  1. Valid passport: Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of re-entry in the U.S.
  2. Valid visa stamp: You must have a valid, unexpired multiple entry visa stamp in order to re-enter the U.S. If your visa stamp is expired, you will need to reapply for a new visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  3. SEVIS Form I-20/DS-2019 with a travel signature from a VISA advisor that will not be older than 6 months by the date you return to the U.S. You and each member of your family must have a SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 to return to the U.S.
  4. Evidence of financial support: your personal bank statement, scholarship letter, etc. to prove you can afford to live and study in the U.S.
  5. Proof of enrollment: ODU transcript

Visa travel signatures examples

After you return to the U.S., be sure to check that your I-94 entry record is updated and correct.

Learn more about Form I-94

If you are going to Canada, Mexico or the islands adjacent to the U.S., please verify directly with those countries regarding any visa requirements. Some individuals can travel to these places for less than 30 days with an expired visa and re-enter the U.S. with no complications; this process is called Automatic Visa Revalidation. If you are planning to make a trip to one of these places and have questions, please e-mail VISA or make an appointment to speak with your VISA advisor.

*Note that if you apply for a new U.S. visa while in Canada, Mexico, or islands in the Caribbean and the visa application is denied, you will not be able to return to the U.S. in any visa status!

If you are entering the U.S. from overseas to resume or begin employment on OPT, be sure to have the following with you:

  1. Valid passport: Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of re-entry in the U.S.
  2. Valid visa stamp: You must have a valid, unexpired multiple entry visa stamp in order to re-enter the U.S. If your visa stamp is expired, you will need to reapply for a new visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  3. SEVIS Form I-20/DS-2019 with a travel signature from a VISA advisor that will not be older than 6 months by the date you return to the U.S. You and each member of your family must have a SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 to return to the U.S.
  4. Your Employment Authorization Document (also known as the OPT EAD Card)
  5. Proof of employment (letter from your employer and any paystubs)
  6. If your spouse is traveling alone, she/he needs to have his/her I-20 and copies of your I-20 and EAD

If you have not yet received your EAD, please see an advisor about travel while your application is pending.


After you return to the U.S., be sure to check that your I-94 entry record is updated and correct.

Learn more about Form I-94



Useful Tips to Consider


Book flights with enough layover times. For example, if your port of entry is at JFK, make sure to have at least 3 hours before your flight to Norfolk.

Be prepared to go through secondary inspection or additional processing at the port of entry.

Always double check that you have all necessary documents before your trip, including visas or paperwork needed to enter the country to which you will be traveling.