Important: Before traveling outside of the U.S. please check with the Office of Student Life.
Essential Student Travel Documents
Your passport is your own government's permit for you to leave and re-enter your own country. It is important that your passport be kept current at all times unless you are exempt from passport requirements. Most passports contain an expiration date. When you enter the United States your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months into the future. If your passport will expire during your time in the U.S. you must contact your Embassy for renewal procedures. They will tell you what forms and fees (if any) are required. If you are required to provide a letter verifying that you are enrolled and in good standing at Iowa Wesleyan College, you can request a letter at the Student Life Office. If you need official enrollment verification, this can be requested from the Registrar’s Office. Check http://www.embassy.org/embassies for the address of your country’s embassy.
A visa stamp placed in your passport by the U.S. consul abroad is required for entry into the United States, unless you are exempted from visa requirements. It shows the latest dates on which you may enter this country. It does not show how long you can stay in the U.S., but it does indicate the classification status under which you are being admitted to the United States.
Renewing your Visa
It is necessary to renew your visa only if you plan to leave and re-enter the U.S. after your visa has expired. If it is necessary for you to renew your visa in order tore-enter the U.S., you may do so by going to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country to which you are traveling. It is not possible to renew your visa while you are in the U.S.
If your visa will or has expired and you plan to travel outside the United States, contact the Office of Student Life prior to your departure to make sure that you have proper documentation.
Form I-94(Arrival-Departure Record)
The I-94 is given to you when you arrive in the U.S. and shows that you have been admitted lawfully and given status (F-1). It is usually stapled to the U.S. visa page in your passport and contains an 11-digit ADMISSION NUMBER. This number is used to track your U.S. arrivals and departures. The D/S written on your I-94 means "duration of status". You are allowed to remain in the U.S. as long as you are following the regulations of your status (F-1). It is important that your I-94 remains in your passport at all times.
There may be a date written in the upper right-hand corner of your I-94. You must leave the U.S. by the date or apply to extend your stay. If there is no date, but rather the inscription “D/S” (duration of status), you are admitted for the length of your program of study as indicated on your I-20, plus any period of post-completion optional practical training (OPT) plus 60 days. If you graduate before the completion date indicated on your I-20 you are considered to have completed your program of study and your I-20 is no longer valid.
Form I-20 ID
The I-20 is verification that you have been accepted to attend a school in the U.S. and that you have been entered into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The third page allows for endorsements of re-entry or work authorization by a Designated School Official (DSO) affirming that the information on the front page of the I-20 is correct. Before traveling make sure this page of your I-20 has been signed during each school year. It is important for you to be aware of the completion date listed on page 1number 5. The date written on number 5 is the deadline for completing your program. See the Dean of Student Life before it expires if you need to extend your program.
Checklist for Leaving and Returning to the U.S.
- Confirm that your passport and visa are valid. Passport must be valid 6 months into future of the date returning to USA.
- Request signature of the Dean of Student Life on page 3of I-20. Must be signed within the last 6-12 months of re-entering USA. Please allow one week for this request.
- Request certification letter from the Office of Student Life, stating that you are currently a full time student at Iowa Wesleyan College and your anticipated graduation date (recommended but not required if applying for visa).
- Carry current proof of financial support when you return to USA or if you are applying for a visa. You may need to get a statement from Financial Aid of your scholarship package and a statement that shows what you will owe for the next term.
- Print your registration schedule for the current and/or upcoming academic term (Recommended but not required).
- Take all of the above documents, and I-20 and I-94card, with you when you leave.
- Make an appointment with the Office of Student Life at least one week prior to leaving if you will be renewing your F-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad or if you have any other questions or concerns regarding traveling on F-1 status.
- If traveling at the end of semesters, make sure you know your final exam schedule prior to making flight arrangements. Professors will not let you change the exam time for travel arrangements.
- Know when you may return to campus before making flight and other arrangements. Students are permitted to move into the residence halls on certain days at the beginning of each term and at specifically posted times following each mid-semester break. Please refer to the IWC Website and the Office of Student Life for questions. Returning too late from a break may also result in registration changes or cancellation due to missing too many class meetings at the start of the semester.
Traveling to Other Countries (Mexico and Canada)
Many international students consider visiting Canada or Mexico while studying in the U.S. Each of these countries has unique requirements for visiting. Please be sure you check with the Office of Student Life prior to traveling. Depending on your citizenship there maybe waiting periods before you receive a tourist visa. Begin your planning early.
Do I need a visa?
Each country has its own unique and specific requirements. By referring to the International Travel Information and clicking on the Consular Information Sheets you can locate the information specific to each country. Usually it will list entry requirements and contact information for their embassy in the USA. Embassy.org is another resource for locating Washington DC embassies. The best time to call an embassy is in the morning because they are usually closed in the afternoons. You may be redirected to contact a Consulate office which serves the Iowa region.
If you need to apply fora passport you may do so at the Recorder’s Office at the Henry County Court House in Mt. Pleasant. You may contact them directly for details at319.385.0765.
US Citizen Travel Abroad
Passports are required for travel to other countries, including Canada, Mexico, and countries in the Caribbean. For further US citizen travel abroad regulation information, please click here.