Travel & Transportation

Local Travel


Bicycling at UC Riverside is safe and convenient with bike lanes, bike cages and a Cyclist Program. Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) provides free rides for UC Riverside students with your R'Card, while Metrolink offers transportation to five surrounding counties along a regional rail system. Taxi and shuttle services operate in and around the Riverside area.   


Traveling Within the U.S.


Traveling within the United States does not require any additional documentation, and you will only need to present a valid passport or government-issued Real ID to board planes, and occasionally cross state boundaries. However, as an international student, you should always carry your passport and immigration papers with you, especially if you drive near Mexican or Canadian borders. The US Department of Homeland Security has border patrol checkpoints on major highways that lead to Mexico and Canada and they may stop you to verify your current immigration status.


Traveling Outside the U.S.


If you plan on traveling while at UCR, be sure to plan ahead. To enter into new countries or to re-enter the US, you will be required to show specific documents. Please make copies of all your documents to keep in a safe place as original documents do sometimes get lost or stolen. Be prepared!

If you are traveling from the US to another country, you should contact that country’s consulate in advance to find out what is required for entry. The agreements between your home country and other countries will vary, so it is important to find out in advance what will be required, especially as some may even require a tourist visa.

  • From countries other than Canada or Mexico

    You will need:

    • A valid SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 signed by an international student advisor. Signature must be less than a year old when you re-enter the U.S. We recommend that you get your I-20 or DS-2019 signed every 6 months.
    • A valid passport. Passports must be valid for six months after the date you re-enter the U.S.
    • A valid U.S. entry visa with unused entries. If your visa has expired or will expire during your trip, make sure you apply for a new visa in your home country, well before your return trip.
    • It is recommended to carry your I-901 SEVIS fee receipt with you as well.
  • Travel During Your OPT Period (F-1 Visa Holders)

    Please contact an international student advisor before making any travel plans!

    You will need:

    • A passport that is valid for six months after the date you re-enter the U.S.
    • A valid F-1 visa for re-entry. If your visa will be expired when you plan to return, you will need to make plans to renew your visa while you are abroad.
    • A valid signature from an international student advisor on Page 2 of your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019. The signature must be less than five months old when you re-enter the U.S.
    • An OPT Employment Authorization Card
    • A letter from your employer explaining that you are traveling and are expected to return to work.
    • It is recommended to carry your I-901 SEVIS fee receipt with you as well.
    • Travel while your OPT application is pending is not recommended. 

    If you need a signature from an international student advisor, please contact us. Academic advisors and professors cannot sign these documents – it must be a designated international student advisor at International Students and Scholars office.

  • Entering the United States

    Whether entering the United States from land or air, you should be prepared to show the following documents at the port of entry:

    • Valid passport
    • Valid US entry visa (if applicable)
    • Valid Form I-20 or Form DS-2019
    • Receipt of SEVIS fee payment, known as the I-901
    • Proof of Financial Support verifying the information on your I-20 or DS-2019
    • UCR Admissions Letter (for New Students) 

    Please note:

    If you have an initial attendance I-20 or DS-2019, you must enter the United States within the 30-day period before the program start date on your form. You will not be allowed to enter the US if you arrive earlier.

    If you hold a “transfer pending” I-20 document, you may return to the United States any time after a short visit home as long as page 2 of the I-20 Form is endorsed for travel.

    Do not enter the US using a B-1/B-2 (tourist) visa, or tourist visa waiver. Changing your visa status within the US is extremely difficult and rarely approved.

    F-2 students are no longer able to pursue full-time degree programs in the United States. Do not enter in F-2 status if you plan to be a full-time, degree-seeking student. If you are currently in the United States in F-2 status, you must file and be approved for a change of status to F-1 before the quarter begins. Contact the ISS office at for more information.

    After you have entered the United States, you will want to go online to verify the status of your I-94 and that you have been filed as entering on the correct visa type. You can access it at You will be asked to bring a printout of this page to document check-in.

  • Applying for a New Visa

    US entry visas are not given from inside the United States, so it is necessary to leave the country to apply for a new one. Oftentimes, students will apply for new entry visas from their local US embassies while visiting home. This is generally the easiest method. However, it may be possible to apply for a US entry visa in other countries while you are traveling.

    If you will be traveling and need to apply for a new visa to re-enter the US, you will need to research the US embassies in that area. Make sure they can process a request from citizens of your demographic. Research the laws between your home country and the country you will be visiting that may affect your ability to apply for a visa, such as defining your trip as business or leisure. Access application and fee information here. Link:


    Bring the following when you apply:

    • UCR transcripts
    • Financial documentation that verifies the amount specified on your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019. This can be an official bank letter from your sponsor or an original letter from your funding department. If your funding changed significantly, request an updated SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 from the ISS office before you return home to apply for a new visa. See the SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 Request Form.
    • A valid I-20 or DS-2019 with a signature from an international student advisor. Signature must be less than 12 months old when you re-enter the U.S. We recommend that you get your I-20/DS-2019 signed every 6 months.

    Check with the embassy or consulate to see if you need to bring additional materials.

    It can take six to eight weeks (or longer) to get a new visa.

  • Applying for Your Visa in Mexico

    Due to California's proximity to the US/Mexico international border, some students choose to travel to Mexico to apply for a new US entry visa. While it is currently possible for to apply for new F-1 or J-1 visa stamps in Mexico, there are risks involved. It is possible to get stuck in Mexico for an extended period of time. Also, while many students enter Mexico as a tourist, you will be assumed to be "on business" if you apply for a new US entry visa there, which can affect your stay. (You will need to research the agreements between Mexico and your home country for further information.) Additionally, if your visa is denied for any reason, you will not be allowed to reenter the United States.

    Meet with an international student advisor at the International Students and Scholars office before making any plans to apply for a new visa in Mexico.

Renew Your Passport


While you’re in the US, you can renew your passport at your home country’s embassy or consulate.

Find embassies and consulates in the U.S.