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overview and definition

Students planning to travel outside or within the United States must understand what is needed. For individuals traveling outside the U.S., while there is never any guarantee of re-entry to the U.S., having the correct paperwork can ease the process at the border. 

Traveling within the U.s. 

Students intending to travel wihtin the U.S. to any of the 50 states (Including Alaska and Hawaii) or to the U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa), will need to have the following valid documents:

  1.  Form I-20
  2.  Form I-94Record.
  3.  Passport - the passport must be valid and unexpired (expiration date at least six months into the future.)

Traveling Outside the U.S. 

Students who are exiting the United States and are re-entering will arrive at the U.S. Port of Entry. Students must provide the following valid documents to the Port of Entry Officer:

  1.  Passport - the passport must be valid and unexpired (expiration date at least six months beyond your re-entry date.) 
  2.  Valid F-1 Visa Stamp
  3.  Current Form I-20 with a valid Travel Signature (Information on how to obtain a travel signature is below.)


  Terminated students intending to travel to reinstate should not use the terminated Form I-20 and instead request for an Initial I-20. 

Traveling While on post-completion opt or stem-opt extension

Students must understand the possible risks of traveling while on Post-OPT or STEM OPT. Entry into the United States is granted by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer. Students traveling are doing so at their own risk. 

ISSS does not recommend traveling while an OPT application is in  "Pending" status with USCIS.*


Stuents planning to travel outside of the U.S. on either Post-OPT or STEM OPT must have the following documents:

  1.  Passport - Passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay in the United States.
  2.  Valid F-1 Visa Stamp
  3.  OPT Authorized Form I-20 with a valid Travel Signature endorsed within the last six months.
  4.  Valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card)
  5.  Job Offer Letter (if available)
  6.  Letter from Employer (If Traveling for More than 30 days) - A letter from the employer explaining the employment activities outside the U.S. Travel may not go more than 5 months. 


Traveling  to Canada, mexico, and/or adjacent islands

The Automatic Visa Revalidation Process  will allow certain temporary visitors that have an expired visa to return to the U.S. at the discretion of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer at the U.S. port-of-entry under the following conditions:

  • Visit outside of U.S. is no more than 30 days and the purpose is pleasure or vacation only.
  • Have maintained full-time F status at all times.
  • Have an unexpired passport and last I-94 indicates a status of "Duration of Stay."
  • Have an I-20 with a valid travel signature
  • Have not applied for a visa during the travel.
  • Students from North Korea, Iran, Sudan, or Syria are ineligible for Automatic Visa Revalidation. 


I-20 Travel signature 

Students who have an expired travel signature and need a new one will request ISSS to provide an updated signature. Below, students will find the steps to receive a travel signature.


Status I-20 Travel Signature Validity
F-1 - Current Student and their F-2 dependent(s) (If applicable) Page 2 The signature is valid for 12 months from the date signed.
F-1 - Students on Post-OPT or STEM OPT and their F-2 dependents(s) (If applicable) Page 2  The signature is valid for six months from the date signed. 


Students do not need a valid travel signature when departing the U.S., only when re-entering the U.S.

  1. Login to UAtlas and Go to "F-1 Student Services"

    Submit the "I-20 Reprint " e-form.

  1. A Designated School Official (DSO) from ISSS will review the request, reprint, and sign the I-20. 

    Processing time is within 10 business days.

  1. Receiving the I-20

    Once the Travel Signature Request is approved, the DSO will send the I-20 electronically through UAtlas. Students will receive a second email with instructions on how to retrieve the I-20. Students are advised to immedietly print and sign the I-20. 




Last Updated: 10/4/23