If you depart the U.S. at any point during your studies, to re-enter the U.S., your I-20 or DS-2019 must have a travel signature. The most recent signature should have been received within 12 months of re-entering 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 may submit an online request for a new I-20 with an updated travel signature that will be e-mailed to you or you may drop off your current I-20/DS-2019 to the ISSS office during office hours. An advisor will sign the document and send you an e-mail when it is ready to pick up.
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.
Student Entry Visas
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, 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
Reentry to the U.S.
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.
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. 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. Individuals who must prove their legal-visitor status to schools or universities can access their CBP arrival/departure record information from CBP One or the I-94 website.
Automatic Visa Revalidation
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.
Below please find important information regarding reentry to the U.S.: