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If traveling while on OPT, in addition to the documents above, also bring:
In order to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status, your I-20 or DS-2019 must have a travel signature. The most recent signature should have been received within 12 months of the day you plan to re-enter the U.S. if you are a current student. If you are an F-1 student on post-completion OPT, the most recent signature should have been received within 6 months of re-entering the U.S. Please review page 2 of your I-20 to check the travel signature. If you are traveling while on post-completion OPT, please click here for more information.
If you need a new travel signature, you can either submit online request for a new I-20 with an updated travel signature that will be e-mailed to you. If you would prefer to have your current hard copy of an I-20 signed for re-entry, please schedule an appointment to have the document signed.
If the travel signature section is full on your I-20/DS-2019 and you need a new travel signature, you can request an updated I-20/DS-2019 here.
Do not wait until the last minute for a travel signature. Travel signatures can be done months in advance of your travel plans. You do not need to have the I-20 updated before you travel. All U.S. embassies and ports of entry will accept an I-20 that was electronically generated as long as you print it out and present it to them.
The DS-2019 , for students in J-1 status, must be printed and signed by ISSS to be accepted by a U.S. Embassy or ports of entry. If you are in J-1 status, please schedule an appointment to have your document signed for re-entry.
The F-1 or J-1 entry visa in your passport must be valid to re-enter the U.S.
If you travel during your studies or during post-completion OPT/academic training. Please be sure to review the F1 or J1 student entry visa in your passport so you're sure of its expiration date before reentering the U.S. However, while you remain in the U.S. and maintain status with a current I-20 or DS-2019, your visa does not need to be valid. An expired visa only needs to be renewed if you are planning to depart the U.S. and return in F-1 or J-1 status. An expired visa can only can be renewed outside the U.S. at a U.S. embassy, preferably in your home country.
Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not require visas to enter the United States as students, although they must present a valid Form I-20 at the time of admission. For more information, please see: Citizens of Canada and Bermuda
If you do need to renew your visa, please review the information on how to do so here.
Please read more about traveling while on OPT here.
Individuals seeking admission to the United States in a nonimmigrant category must be inspected in person by an immigration officer at an official U.S. port of entry (POE). Before inspection, most arriving aliens are seen as "applicants for admission." Individuals also go through customs inspection at most ports of entry.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) is responsible for determining the admissibility of travelers at U.S. ports of entry.
It is important that you check your most recent I-94 record every time you enter the US.
The I-94 is the record of arrival and departure issued to visiting or transiting persons to the United States except U.S. citizens, returning foreign visitors, foreign visitors with immigrant visas, and most Canadian citizens. Your I-94 must show the immigration status that you entered the US with, and "D/S" which means that you've been entered for the duration of status on your I-20 or DS-2019.
Non-U.S. citizens traveling to the United States may also download the free CBP One mobile app from the Apple App Store or Google Play and complete an electronic I-94 form up to seven days before their trip. The feature provides a more convenient way for travelers to apply for an I-94, review their past travel history, check their I-94 expiration date and obtain proof of their electronic I-94 from their mobile device.
Sometimes the officer reviewing your case will make a mistake. It is your responsibility to check your I-94 for errors and have them corrected. If you spot a mistake, please contact the Deferred Inspections Office at the airport you first entered into the US through. Usually the error can be corrected over the phone or by email, but sometimes you may need to visit the office at the airport.
Philadelphia Deferred Inspections Office:
Address: Terminal A West 3rd Floor International Arrivals Hall - Philadelphia International Airport
Phone: (215) 863-4247
If you travel to Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island, you may reenter the U.S without a valid F-1 entry visa, as long as your stay outside the U.S. does not exceed 30 days.
Please review the information regarding Automatic Visa Revalidation if you will reenter the US from Canada, Mexico and some Adjacent Islands to see if this rule applies to you. Contact the Canadian/Mexican Embassy in New York or Washington, D.C. to learn if you need a visa to enter Canada or Mexico. No U.S. entry visa can be renewed in the United States; rather, you will need to schedule an appointment at a US Embassy or Consulate abroad.
Your visa must be valid when you seek to enter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status. You will need to have your visa renewed before re-entering the U.S. The only way to renew your visa is by scheduling an appointment at a U.S. embassy outside the U.S. (preferably in your home country). If you do not wish to travel, you can stay in in the U.S. on an expired visa as long as you have a valid I-20 and passport.
We cannot predict how the coronavirus situation will affect the U.S. Embassy processes in other countries.
Most U.S. embassies are beginning to open. Please continue to review information at your embassy. You can find information for the U.S. embassy that has jurisdiction over you place of residence at https://www.usembassy.gov/
No, Customs and Border Patrol has confirmed, many times, that a valid, unexpired F-1 or J-1 entry visa, along with other supporting documentation, will allow them to admit you in the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status.
The travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 is valid for one year if you're a matriculating student, six (6) months if you're on OPT (F-1) or academic training (J-1).