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.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can request an electronic I-20 with an updated travel signature using the I-20 Request Form in the ISS Forms Library. At this time, we recommend that you obtain travel signatures digitally rather than stopping by the office.
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 6 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.