When flying back to your home country (or any other place outside of US) from the USA you have to ensure that your paper work is right. See below items and make sure you do not overlook any of them.
- Expired visa: On most visas, you can stay in US even after they expire as long as you have proper authorization extending your stay. However, some countries will NOT let you fly through their air space on an expired visa. For example, you cannot fly on British Airways (via England) on an expired US visa. Make sure your airline lets you travel on an expired visa (with proper extension authorization documentation) before you book the flight.
- Transit visa: Some countries will require you to have a transit visa to travel through their country. This may be due to the fact that the need to shuttle through one airport to another. Check with your booking agent/airlines before you make the purchase. You can find information about transit visa requirements at Travel.State.Gov website.
- Letter from employer/school: Always ensure that you get a letter from your employer about your current employment standing. If you are student, ensure that your I-20 forms are updated and you get a letter from your school stating that you are a ‘continuing student and intend to return to US to complete your courses’. The school needs to know your travel plan to update the SEVIS system to authorized travel. If the SEVIS system is not updated, the student could not issues returning to the USA. The scool usually issues a seperate ‘Travel I-20’ for this purpose. The travel I-20 ofr the letter is required even if you don’t have to appear for a visa interview to renew your visa.
- Labor Certification Application (LCA)/ Form I- 797: If you have a LCA and / or if you are an H-1 holder, always carry a copy of your LCA and / or Form I-797 (H-1B receipt notice) with you. This is the proof that you are working in ‘said’ location in USA and is an evidence of the validity of your current status in the USA.
- I-94: Ensure that your I-94 is handed over at the flight check in counter at the port where you are boarding. It is your responsibility to remind them even if the flight check in agent forgets to take it out. You will receive a new I-94 each time you enter the USA. The I-94 is a record of your authorized arrival date and once you hand it over, it marks your authorized departure.
- Electronics: You can take most items with you when travelling from US. The real challenge is in the customs of your destination. Most countries have limits on the value of electronics you bring in for personal use. Visit your country’s customs site and comply with the rules. Worst case, you may be asked to pay customs fees on the items over and above the approved limit.
- Cash: Carry enough cash in your destination country’s currency. This will help you with calling, cabs, customs and food. Note that you can carry any amount of cash outside of the USA; however if you or the family carries $10,000 or more in total, then you have to fill out the “Report of International Transportation of Currency and Monetary Instruments” . Click here for link to the form – FinCen Form 105. This form can be filled out prior to travelling or a customs officer can help you. Family members travelling together can not split the currency to smaller denomination to avoid declaration.
Other things to remember before and while travelling:-
- Travel miles – Add miles to your skymiles card. If you don’t have a skymiles card with the airline, you may want to apply for one before flying. Most airlines update the miles for a very limited period after the travel and you may end up loosing your miles if you don’t add the miles within their limited window.
- Credit cards charges – Most card card will allow you to withdraw cash or making credit card payments outside of USA; however there will be certain charges associated with those transactions. You may want to check with your credit card company before travelling about transactions outside of USA and foreign currency.
- Phone calls – Most phone carriers in the USA have a international roaming plan where you will be charged a reduced / discounted rate for calling international. Note that even if you have the phone with a USA phone carrier and a USA number, you will be charged international for calls to USA from outside of USA.
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