If you require notarized documents for your visa, you may take them to any notary public. The notary on campus is Alan LaPan in the student mailroom on campus.
Do NOT sign your documents in advance: you must sign them in the notary's presence, and you must show identification.
FBI Background Checks
Some countries require an FBI background check as part of the visa application. The FBI web page has information on requesting a background check. Contact your local police department for fingerprinting.
International Student Identity Card
If your program does not require it you may consider getting an international student identity card. This card carries supplemental health and travel insurance, is recognized worldwide and can be used to obtain student discounts in many destinations—on everything from travel, museums and theater to haircuts, meals and movies. The cost of the card is approximately $22.
The card’s main purpose is to serve as proof of student status, enabling card holders to qualify for student discounts abroad. Card benefits vary widely from country to country, but may include student discounts on airfare, transportation, accommodations, and reduced admission to museums, theaters, cultural events, and other attractions. Students report that the card is most useful in Europe, less so in Africa, though it may help you get a student fare on your flight. If you purchase an ISIC, you will be given an ISIC handbook that lists exactly which nations recognize the card, the types of discounts, and the addresses and phone numbers of student travel offices around the world. Besides the student discounts, the ISIC provides free travel insurance (good for before and after your program dates), an emergency help line, and a communications system (phone card). If you should need to use the insurance benefits, you will need to have a copy of your card and proof of purchase for any claim.
Note: The ISIC validity period usually runs from late summer of each year to December 31 of the following year; if your card expires while you are abroad, you can apply for a new one. However, note that cards bought outside of the US do not include the accident and sickness insurance coverage.
Other international ID cards are also available. CIEE has recently launched the iNext Travel Card which offers a wide range of benefits for health care, medical evacuation, emergency assistance, and repatriation of remains; it can also work as a global phone card. The iNext Basic card costs $29, the iNext Premium package is $45.
For International Students
Make sure that your passport and F-1 visa will remain valid until your planned return to the US. Check with your Advising Dean’s office to have your I-20 travel signature updated, and make sure you inform the her of your address abroad. Depending on how long you are away, you may need to obtain a new I-20 travel signature before you return to the US.
Carrying Your Documents
Be sure to carry ALL your relevant travel documents in a safe and secure place. For international students, this includes not only your current I-20, but also any earlier ones you may have. All students should also leave copies of their passport pages, visas, and other essential documents with a trusted friend or family member as a precaution. Having a copy of the information will be extremely helpful if a document needs to be replaced.
International Driver's License
If you are planning to drive a lot while you are abroad, you may need an International Driver's License, available via the web. Not all countries require an International Driver's License; check the web site or ask a travel agent for details. Check with your insurance company to see if your US liability insurance is valid abroad.