I am an Indian citizen and have completed my OPT/studies. However my I94 has expired because I based it off the Visa which is still valid, due to a misunderstanding. I am returning home and before I purchase my flight, I want to know if I will need a transit visa through Germany or am I ok?

Again my visa is still valid except for I94/I20.

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    Hi Lina, welcome to Travel.SE I-94 and I-20 are completely different documents. Can you edit your question to explain your situation better and in more detail? Also, since you mentioned an I-20 I presume you were on an F-1 visa. Considering that, I-94 would not have an expiry. Also, your F-1 visa and your I-20 seem to have discrepancy because they should both indicate the same date. Can you shed some light on that? Jun 11, 2014 at 17:31
  • @AdityaSomani The F-1 visa and I-20 can have difference dates. For example, the I-20 can be valid for 2 years (e.g. a Masters' program) but the visa issued could have been for 5 years. Of course, an F-1 is useless without a valid I-20, but that's unrelated.
    – Ansari
    Jun 13, 2014 at 19:52
  • @Ansari I just don't understand why would the visa be issued for longer in the above case if the I-20 is valid for 2 years. Also, I thought a typical masters program I-20 should be valid for 3 years right? I.e 1 year more than the typical duration of the program. Jun 14, 2014 at 8:17
  • @AdityaSomani I have no idea either, but it happened to me :) 2-year I-20 (which I eventually extended for a PhD) and a 5-year F-1.
    – Ansari
    Jun 14, 2014 at 23:08

1 Answer 1


The relevant EU regulation (article 3(5) (c) of the Schengen visa code) is pretty clear:

The following categories of persons shall be exempt from the requirement to hold an airport transit visa provided for in paragraphs 1 and 2:


(c) third-country nationals holding a valid visa for a Member State which does not take part in the adoption of this Regulation, for a Member State which does not yet apply the provisions of the Schengen acquis in full, or for Canada, Japan or the United States of America, when travelling to the issuing country or to any other third country, or when, having used the visa, returning from the issuing country;

Official webpages from the German authorities explaining these regulations (e.g. germany.info) confirm this. So if your visa is indeed valid, I don't see why you would need a visa to transit in a German airport.

Because of the way US visas work, many people have the opposite problem, they are in the US legally but don't have a valid visa anymore. But there is no reason for the German authorities to care about (or even be aware of) all the niceties of US law.

Note however that your visa situation should be checked before you leave. The database used for that also contains the same information but you could try to contact the airline to confirm they would let you board the plane with the documents you have.

  • As an F1 student whenever I enter the US it is mandatory for me to show my I-20. It is not a supporting document, it is a mandatory document. I don't understand how it is possible that the OP has a valid visa without a valid I-20. Also, if the OP is not in the US as of now, by definition the I-94 is now expired. Jun 11, 2014 at 19:09
  • @AdityaSomani That's why I put “if your visa is indeed valid” in italics. But at the same time, like I said, I am not sure if it makes any difference. If you have something in your passport that looks like a valid visa, I very much doubt anybody in Europe will know or care about the I-20 being mandatory and whatnot. The rules are predicated upon visas being valid by themselves and covering the whole duration of the stay, like they often do elsewhere.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 11, 2014 at 19:22
  • @AdityaSomani Most relevant would be what you have to present before boarding the plane (either in India on the way to the US, or in the US when returning to India) – if you transited in Germany in the past. Are airlines satisfied with a visa or do they also check the other documents?
    – Relaxed
    Jun 11, 2014 at 19:25
  • I have transited through Germany several times (with Lufthansa of course) and it seems that the immigration out of the departure country care about the I-20 (will make sure you have it and they'll check it, but no questions follow, it's usually smooth) albeit not as much as the US CBP at the US side immigration check. They will make sure that the document is valid. The airline people might just not notice. You would be absolutely correct that the OP can transit without any issues as long as they are allowed to board the flight in the first place but as far as legality is concerned... Jun 12, 2014 at 0:55
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    Yes, I did not notice that earlier. It won't be an issue if she doesn't pass US CBP. I think the OP feels that their I-20 has expired whereas it has not even though they have completed their studies. While it is true that the I-20 is rendered invalid after you finish your education, there is a decent grace period to it. You can easily travel back without any issues. So, yes the OP should be able to travel back without a transit visa with a "supposedly" valid I-20. All clear! :D Jun 12, 2014 at 8:55

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