While traveling within the US, including the non-adjacent states (Alaska and Hawaii) and the territories (Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) you should carry your original immigration documents, but you do not need a travel endorsement on your form I-20. It is ok if your visa has expired.
Anytime you leave the US, you will need valid immigration documents in order to re-enter the country. These include:
- Passport, valid for at least 6 months after the date you return to the US (with these exceptions)
- F-1 visa, unexpired with at least 1 remaining entry (except citizens of Canada and Bermuda) and as indicated below*.
- Form I-20 with a travel signature from within the last year (if you are participating in post-completion OPT, the travel signature must be no older than 6 months when you re-enter the US)
- SEVIS I-901 fee payment receipt (print your receipt)
- Evidence of enrollment: a print-out of your transcript
- Financial documentation (bank statement, assistantship award letter, etc.): Although not required, immigration officers might request these documents at the airport.
If you are participating in post-completion OPT you will also need:
- A letter from your employer on official letterhead and signed by your supervisor stating that you will return to the US to resume your training
- Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) showing the approved dates of your OPT. (The “not valid for re-entry” notation on the card simply means that the card alone is insufficient. It must be accompanied by the other items on this list.)
*If you wish to visit Canada, Mexico, and any of the islands (except Cuba) adjacent to the US mainland, you may do so for up to 30 days with an expired visa based upon a special provision called automatic revalidation.
Note: Take special care if you leave the US on a cruise ship that also visits other countries. Upon returning to the US some ports do not require you to obtain a new Port of Entry stamp. You will want to do so in order for your I-94 admission/departure record to be updated correctly. Request both the stamp and the update of your electronic record before your leave the CBP booth.