Returning to the United States After a Trip Abroad

International Student Services: Current Students

 

How to Return to the United States in Valid F-1/J-1 Immigration Status after a Trip Abroad

International students returning to the US from a trip abroad must:

  • Travel with a passport that will be valid for at least six months into the future on the day you return from your trip abroad.
  • Have your I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) signed as needed (signatures are valid for six months).

If you are in F-1/J-1 status and travel abroad, we recommend that your I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) be signed once each semester that you travel. If you do not travel abroad, it is not necessary obtain a travel signature. You will need a new I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) form only if any of the information on the form has changed.

To be eligible for a travel signature, you must be registered as a full-time student and you must be in good standing with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the university. If you need a travel signature, come to International Student Programs during walk-in hours. Bring your current I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1), passport, visa, and current I-94 print out

At the port of entry, you should be prepared to show the following documentation:

  • Current I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) with a valid travel signature.
  • Unexpired F-1/J-1 visa valid for future entries into the United States.
  • Recent financial documents.
  • If you are on Optional Practical Training (F-1), your EAD card and a letter from your employer.
  • If you are on Academic Training (J-1), your DS-2019 with an employment authorization signature and a letter from your employer.

If you have not been a full-time student or if you have questions about your status with the USCIS, please make an appointment to speak with International Student Programs.

Obtaining a New Entry Visa

If travel outside the United States, you must have a valid F-1/J-1 visa in your passport to re-enter the U.S. If your visa is no longer valid, you must make an appointment at the nearest United States consulate or embassy in the country you are visiting to apply for a new visa and show the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • Current I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) with recent travel signature
  • Recent financial documents
  • Status letter from International Student Programs
  • Receipt to show payment of SEVIS fee

To be eligible for a status letter, you must be registered as a full-time student and you must be in good standing with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the university. If you need a travel signature, come to International Student Programs during walk-in hours. Bring your current I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1), passport, visa, and current I-94 print out.

It is likely that the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will also want to review this documentation at the port of entry.

A Few Words of Advice:

  • If you are unsure about your status, check with International Student Programs.
  • Never discard your old I-20 or DS-2019.  You may need to show these documents at a visa interview, the port of entry, or when making applications to USCIS.