International students studying in the U.S. with F-1 status can travel outside of the U.S. However before you travel out of the country, there are some documents that you should check in order to determine your eligibility to return to the U.S. You must make sure that your I-20 form is still valid. You should also notify the DSO for the endorsement of your Form I-20. For your I-20 to be endorsed, you have to meet certain requirements. Evidence of your health insurance and current details of your financial support will be required. You are also required to provide evidence of your current student status, your passport, Form I-20, I-94, and other necessary immigration documents. Detailed information about your planned travel (such details as the mode of transportation, destination, reason for the travel, and duration of the travel) is also required. If you are traveling with your dependants who are F-2 visa holders, they will be also required to provide the above-mentioned documents. You should also ensure that your F-1 visa is still valid. If it has expired, then you have to apply for a new visa at the U.S. Embassy in the country you visited or your country of permanent residence or your country of origin.
However, if you are going to stay outside of the U.S. up to 5 months and above, it is advisable that you first discussed it with your counselor before you travel. This is because, before you will be allowed to re-enter the U.S. in order to continue with your studies, a new I-20 has to be issued to you. There are also special DHS rules guiding such travels. These rules have to be applied, as well.
For detailed information on the options available to you and for expert help on your immigration process, you should contact our office and speak with our experienced and professional attorney.