What International Students Should Know Before Leaving The United States For A Winter Break?

The weather is getting colder day by day! After celebrating International Students Day and Thanksgiving Day, international students might pack their bags to leave the United States of America for the winter break after completing their midterm exams.


Many international students in the United States might have drafted their vacation plans for this winter. What they have to remember is studying and packing should be carefully planned before leaving the country. A few things international students need to work on before they leave and upon their return to the USA. Explore the tips and resources below!

What To Know Before Leaving US For Break

A Meeting With The DSO

If an international student in America wants to travel to any other country or home during the holiday season, he/she is advised to check the same with their Designated School Official (DSO) before leaving the US.

While meeting up with the DSO, one should ensure that the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is up-to-date and active. Students should also take the most up-to-date contact information besides a daytime telephone number at the school and the 24-hour emergency phone number.

What To Bring To US Ports Of Entry

Whenever an international student enters the United States, he/she will arrive at the port of entry and meet with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers for the inspection. This inspection can be primary and rarely a secondary inspection. The important documents that the CBP officers may ask for are as follows:

  • Passport.
  • Student visa.
  • Form 1-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status."

International students are advised to hand-carry these items and not to put them in the checked baggage.

What Is Secondary Inspection?

If the CBP officer finds difficulty in verifying the information or you do not have all the required documents, then a CBP officer may instruct you for an interview known as ''secondary inspection.'' This is an additional research with regards to verifying the information.

Know About The Form I-515A

As an international student, one has to be more cautious about the procedure while entering the US. If anyone fails to produce the required document, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer may deny the entry. As an alternative, the officer has the discretion to issue a Form I-515A which allows you to enter the United States but only for 30 days. Obtaining a Form I-515A is not advised because it may affect your F or M visa status.

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