Before traveling outside of the USA, please contact International Programs!
Special Note:  During a vacation or break, remember that you are still an international student until you complete your studies.  Carry your I-20 with you even if traveling with friends or family that are tourists.  Make sure you always have an I-94 document that shows your student status!

Your passport is your own government's permit for you to leave and re-enter your own country.  When you enter the United States, your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months into the future.  If your passport will expire during your time in the USA, you must contact your Embassy for renewal procedures.

A visa is only used for entry into the United States. It shows the latest dates that you may enter this country. It does not show how long you can stay in the USA.  
Renewing your visa
It is only necessary to renew your visa if you plan to leave and re-enter the U.S. after your visa has expired. If it is necessary for you to renew your visa in order to re-enter the USA, you may do so by going to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country to which you are traveling. It is not possible to renew your visa while you are in the USA.
If your visa will or has expired and you plan to travel outside the United States, contact the International Programs Office prior to your departure to make sure that you have proper documentation.  You will need to consider the amount of time it will take to get a visa processed when traveling as some embassies require advanced on-line appointment dates and additional processing.

Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record)
It shows that you have been admitted lawfully and given status (F-1). As well, it contains an 11-digit ADMISSION NUMBER. The USCIS uses this number to keep track of your U.S. arrivals and departures. The D/S included on your I-94 means "duration of status". You are allowed to remain in the USA as long as you are following the regulations of your status (F-1). It is important that your I-94 remains with you when you travel at all times

The I-94 is no longer given to you when you arrive in the U.S. It is completed online by the Border Agent when arriving in the USA. You must have a printed copy with you after you have crossed the border. A printed copy can be retrieved HERE. You must fill out all of the information to retrieve your admission number. Make sure you have your passport number, the country of issuance, most recent date of entry, and class of admission information on hand when completing the form.


Form I-20 ID
The I-20 is verification that you have been accepted to attend a school in the Unted States and you have been entered into the SEVIS Immigration system. The third page allows for endorsements of re-entry or work authorization.  Before traveling, make sure the third page of your I-20 has been signed during each school year.  It is important for you to be aware of the completion date listed on page 1 number 5. The date written on number 5 is the deadline for completing your program.  See the Director of International Programs before it expires if you need to extend or shorten your program.

I-901 Receipt (SEVIS Fee)
This form is only required for students who enter the U.S.A. to study for their first time. Students who transfer between U.S. schools while maintaining their immigration status do not need to complete this form or pay this fee. For information on this SEVIS fee, please click here.

Proof of Finances
Usually this is only needed when you apply for a VISA, however, immigration always has the right to ask for proof of finances at the U.S. port of entry. It is your responsiblity to show immigration or the Embassy your ability to pay for your education. Possible documents to carry might be recent bank statements, statement of your financial aid, statement from Graceland University Accounting Services stating your balance, bank drafts for the amount that you will owe Graceland, etc.

Acceptance or Enrollment Verification
New students will need to carry their acceptance letter when entering the country. Some students may wish to carry enrollment verification, which may be printed from a student's My.Graceland account. Most students choose to carry their class schedule, showing full time enrollment for the current or upcoming semester. These documents are not commonly requested at the port of entry but are often requested when applying for a VISA.

Go to the US Department of State Website ( to get all kinds of travel information, including: Passport and International Travel Information

Do I need a visa?
By looking at the International Travel Information and clicking on the Country Specific Information , you can locate the information for specific countries. Usually it will list entry requirements and contact information for their embassy in the USA. is another resource for locating Washington DC embassies. The best time to call an embassy is in the morning because they are usually closed in the afternoons. You may be redirected to contact a Consulate office which serves the Iowa region.

If you need to apply for a passport you may do so at the Decatur County Auditor's Office at the Court House in Leon. You may contact them directly for details at 641. 446.4323  

Passport photos may be taken at the Courthouse Auditor's Office for $10 or at the Creative Media Center (CMC) in the basement of Zimmerman Hall. Contact them at 5249 to make arrangements.

  • Confirm that your passport and visa are valid. Passport must be valid for at least 6 months upon date of return to USA.
  • Request signature of International Programs on page 3 of I-20. Must be signed within the last 6-12 months of re-entering USA. Please allow one week for this service.
  • Request certification letter from the Office of International Programs, stating that you are currently a full time student at Graceland and your anticipated graduation date. (recommended but not required if applying for visa).
  • Carry current proof of financial support when you return to the USA or if you are applying for a visa. You may need to get a statement from Financial Aid of your scholarship package and a statement that shows what you will owe for the next term.
  • Print your registration schedule for the current and/or upcoming academic term. (Recommended but not required)
  • Take all of the above documents, and I-20 and I-94 card, with you when you leave.
  • Make an appointment with International Programs at least one week prior to leaving if you will be renewing your F-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad or if you have any other questions or concerns regarding traveling on F-1 status.
  • Prior to making flight/travel arrangements, make sure you know your final exa m schedule (found in MyGraceland under the Student tab) . Professors will not let you change the exam time for travel arrangements.
  • Know when you may return to campus before making flight and other arrangements. Students are permitted into the residence halls at specifically posted times after each break. At the beginning of the fall semester students are allowed back on specific days. Please refer to the Graceland Website and the Residence Life Office for questions.
  • The Shuttle Service is only offered during official breaks of the university or when various student classifications are permitted to return in the fall (i.e. student leaders, athletes, new students, and returning students have different times they are permitted to reside on-campus).
Many students ask about going to Canada and Mexico. There are different requirements for entering these countries. Please make sure you check with International Programs prior to traveling. Depending on your citizenship, you may have waiting periods to receive a tourist visa. Plan early.
The Canadian Consulate General of Detroit process visa for people in Iowa.
For the Mexican Embassy click Here

Visas for oth er countries
 Shuttle Service:
The Shuttle Service is handled through an outside company.  Please refer to the link below.

Jefferson Bus Lines:
Toll Free: 800.451.5333

Des Moines
The Jefferson Bus to Lamoni leaves from Des Moines at 6:20 pm, arriving at 7:25 pm and costs approximately $27 (times and price subject to change.) FROM the Des Moines Bus Station to the Des Moines Airport take a taxi to the airport. Allow at least 30 minutes travel time. You will need to take a taxi to get from the airport to the bus station. 

Kansas City
The KC Bus Station is 22 miles (35.41 km) from the KC (MCI) Airport. Allow at least one hour for travel time (not including wait time).
The Jefferson Bus to Lamoni leaves  at two times from the KC Bus Terminal: the first is at 12:15 am, arriving at 3:25 am, and the second leaves at 8 am, arriving at 10:15 am. It will cost about $34 (subject to change).  You will need to take a taxi or arrange for the Super Shuttle (cheaper/see contact info below) to get to the bus station from the a irport. 

Amtrak Trian (Located in Osceola, IA):

Des Moines Cab Services
The Des Moines Bus Station is 11 miles (17.7 km) from the airport. Allow at least 30 minutes of travel time (not including wait time). If you arrive at the Des Moines Airport you can take a taxi for approximately $20 to the bus station. You may catch the taxi at the taxi stand outside by exiting near baggage claim or by using a free courtesy phone in the baggage claim area. Take the taxi to the downtown bus station.
Capital Cab Company
Phone: 515.282.8111
Yellow Cab Company
Phone: 515.243.1111
There is also a free courtesy phone at the baggage claim area
Kansas City Cab and Shuttle Service:
If you are arriving at the airport you may take a taxi or the Super Shuttle to get to the downtown bus station. To get to the bus station, the taxi cost approximately $65+ or make previous arragements with Super Shuttle for your pick up.

Yellow Cab Company
Phone: 816.471.5000
Super Shuttle (KC) (appoximately $18 for least expensive option between bus station and airport)