Travel - U.S. Departure and Re-Entry

 International students must have a valid travel signature on their immigration Form I-20 or DS-2019 to re-enter the United States. Immigration forms may only be signed by an approved international student advisor in the International Student and Scholar Services Office (ISSSO) of the University. 

Please be advised that Academic advisors and faculty members cannot sign immigration documents.

My Travel Signature

Where is it?

  • On form I-20, travel signatures appear on the middle of page 2.
  • On form DS-2019, travel signatures appear at the bottom of page 1.

When Does it Expire?

  • The immigration document states “Each certification signature is valid for one year.” However, we know from  experience that signatures near expiration have caused problems at U.S. re-entry.
  • Therefore, the ISSSO recommends a new (updated) travel signature if the current one will be more than 6 months old at the time you re-enter the U.S.
  • For students on OPT, travel signatures are only valid for 6 months

How Do I Get Updated?

  • Send an email to stating that you are travelling, give the dates of travel, and request a travel authorization signature on your I-20.

Important Reminders

  • Grace Period: If you are in a post-completion (you graduated) grace period, and you depart the U.S for any reason, such as a cruise, the grace period automatically ends. You cannot re-enter the U.S.
  • 5 Month Rule: If you will be outside the U.S. more than 5 months, your I-20 will automatically expire, regardless of the date of the travel signature. You will need a new SEVIS fee and new I-20.
  • Forgot your Immigration Form: If you arrive back in the U.S. without your I-20 or DS-2019, you will not be allowed immediate entry. You will go to secondary inspection (a waiting area for further questioning that can take several hours), or possibly refused entry to the U.S.
  • Questions or Concerns: Please see your international student advisor if you have questions or concerns before traveling. Normal processing time is 2 days, except in emergency cases.

Canadian Students

Canadians must carry a valid passport, I-20 or DS-2019 and a NEXUS card (if applicable) to enter the U.S. If you do not show your I-20 or DS-2019, you will be admitted as a tourist in the B Visa category, which does not allow study in the U.S.

Travel FAQs