If you plan to travel outside of the United States and reenter, you need a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019. Your I-20 or DS-2019 should have a signature within 12 months of the date you plan to reenter. If you are on OPT, the travel signature date should be within 6 months of the date when you reenter.
To request a travel signature, you can visit us in person during our normal business hours and pick up the signed I-20 or DS-2019 in 2 business days. You can also request an electronic I-20 with an updated travel signature using the I-20 Request Form in the ISS Forms Library. Both are completely valid options for international travel.
In order to reenter the U.S., the following documents are required:
- Passport, valid at least 6 months after your date of entry into the U.S.
- Valid visa (some exceptions exist for travel to Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands. See information about Automatic Visa Revalidation and speak to an ISS advisor for more details.)
- I-20 or DS-2019 signed for travel in the past 12 months
- If you are currently on OPT, your EAD card
- If you are currently on OPT, proof of employment is required if you are able to provide it (this can be a letter from your employer stating that you are currently employed, an offer letter if you have not yet started the employment, and/or pay stubs)
Do not pack the above documents in your luggage. Carry them with you at all times.
The following documents are also helpful in verifying your activities as an F-1/J-1 entering the U.S. if an immigration official questions your student visa status, and therefore are also recommended for travel:
- Transcript of coursework (See your Self Service Carolina account to print an unofficial transcript)
- Financial certification (bank statement, assistantship letter ,etc.)
- I-901 SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
- Printout of current and future enrollment (your class schedule)
- If you are on OPT or CPT, a letter from an employer acknowledging the travel and your salary amount.