If you will be leaving the United States temporarily for the holidays, you must have certain documentation with you in order to re-enter the United States. As an F-1 visa student you are expected to have and do the following:
Dependents in F-2 status must have valid passports and visas as well. If they are traveling alone or with you, they must have also with them the appropriate form I-20 signed by the Immigration Specialist.
If you need to renew your passport within the United States, you may want to contact your country’s Embassy in the U.S. There is a list of the websites of nations with offices in the United States at the Department of State website.
If you have changed your status to F-1 while in the U.S., you will need to go to a U.S. embassy or consulate of your home country to apply for a new visa. Contact the Immigration Specialist (see below) before leaving and get a letter to the American consulate you will be going to for an interview.
If your visa stamp has expired and if you need to travel outside the U.S. to a country other than your own, you need to call that country's embassy or consulate to find out if an entry visa is required. Also it is essential that you fix an appointment with that consulate or embassy before leaving. In some cases, you can visit Canada or Mexico for the renewal of your current visa. (Contact the individual U.S. embassy or consulate in Canada or Mexico by visiting the Non immigrant Visa Appointments website; this site provides appointments for consulates in Canada and Mexico.)
However, you cannot return to the United States until your visa is issued. If the visa is denied, you will not be able to return to the United States as a student. There are many changes in the policies of the Department of State recently, and so it recommends that you apply for a visa in your home country. Meet with the Immigration Specialist to get the details before leaving the country.
The Immigration Specialist (in the Registrar's Office) is here to assist you in understanding and maintaining your rights and responsibilities as an international student. If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to schedule an appointment with the Immigration Specialist please contact the Office of the Registrar at (562) 903-4720.
When it comes to getting the travel signature, do not wait until the last week of the semester, as the Immigration Specialist cannot meet with all the students leaving in just a week or two. Plan well ahead with your appointments. Thank you for your cooperation.