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Foreign National Travel

Traveling in the U.S.

If you are traveling within the U.S., especially outside of the immediate Nashville area, you should carry your original immigration/status documents (e.g. passport, I-94 print-out and H-1B approval notice) with you. Even though you most likely will not be asked for them, it is important to note that, by law, you are required to carry your “registration form” with you. As a non-immigrant, your registration form is your I-94. Please be sure to store copies of all your immigration documents, should you lose your original documents and need to replace them.

Before You Travel Internationally

While you hold H-1B, O-1, E-3, or TN-1 status, you are free to travel internationally.  If you are currently in the United States working at Vanderbilt in H-1B, E-3, O-1, or TN status, you must have a valid visa stamp in your passport to re-enter the US following international travel. (For information about how to obtain J or F visas, visit ISSS). 

Each US consulate has specific procedures for the issuance of a visa stamp and it is your responsibility to ensure that you provide the documents that the consulate requests. This information is listed on US consulates websites so please review the requirements of the consulate where you will apply. All US consulates can be found at this link:

You may also view current visa processing times for each US consulate at the following link:

Before you travel, please contact OIS. Additionally, you should consult the Department of State web site for travel alerts and warnings.

Entering the U.S. for the First Time

Individuals coming to the U.S. in H-1B, TN and E-3 status may enter the country as early as ten days prior to the approved start date as indicated on their H-1B Approval Notice/LCA (E-3) or TN documents. Individuals attempting to enter the U.S. before this 10-day period run the risk of being refused admission at the border.

Please be sure to review CBP’s international visitor information to review important information regarding the admission process and about bringing foodmedicationpets and money and other monetary instruments into the U.S. Also, note that CBP reserves the right to inspect your electronic devices, such as your cell phone, tablet or laptop. If your electronic device is selected for such an inspection, you should receive a CBP fact sheet with additional details.

Re-entering the U.S.

To re-enter the US after a stay abroad, you should always bring the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid visa stamp, if applicable, in the appropriate category (H-1B, E-3, TN, etc.)
  • H-1B Approval Notice, if applicable
  • Copy of your immigration status application:
    • H-1B petition
    • TN letter
    • E-3 LCA and/or petition
  • Three last paystubs
  • Employment Confirmation Letter from OIS

Administrative Checks (221g) at U.S. Consulates:  

Consulates are required to do background checks on applicants for nonimmigrant visas.  These checks usually take 2-6 weeks to complete and, in some cases may take longer.  Persons with a background in or employed in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) will always have to undergo an administrative check.  If you are a STEM worker you should complete the Technical Questionnaire portion of the check before your consular appointment.  If administrative processing is required, the consular officer will request the questionnaire and you can simply turn in the pre-completed document before leaving the consulate.  However, do not give it to the consulate officer unless they tell you that you are subject to administrative processing (or 221g).   In addition, please notify our office if administrative processing is required. There is no expedite process for administrative processing.  

Important reminder for former J-1 scholars with H-1B approval:

If you obtained a waiver of the two year home residency requirement, you must present the original I-612 waiver approval notice (Form I-797) to the US Consulate in order to receive the H-1B visa.

Upon your return to the U.S.

Please send a copy of your new I-94 record to OIS!

Vanderbilt requires that you provide OIS with a copy of your I-94 record each time you return from travel outside the USA.  Each time you are issued a new I-94 record it supersedes all previous I-94 records. The I-94 determines your visa status and expiration. OIS must maintain a copy of your current I-94 record in your immigration case file to monitor continued lawful presence, appropriate work authorization and timely extensions of your status.

Global Safety

Vanderbilt Incident Response for Travel (VIRT) is a team dedicated to providing safety-related guidance and assistance for members of the Vanderbilt University community who plan to be away from campus on VU-related travel.