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Travel Outside the U.S. and Re-entry to the U.S.

In the past few years, there have been a number of changes that may affect international students and scholars who plan to leave and re-enter the United States. The U.S. Department of State and the Customs and Border Protection bureau of Department of Homeland Security have increased the level of review that international visitors face at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad, at airports, and at border crossing posts with Canada and Mexico.

If you plan to travel outside the U.S., you will need to be aware of important immigration and security regulations to ensure that you can leave and re-enter the U.S.

Visa Information

Prior to travelling abroad you should check the validity of your visa stamp in your passport to confirm that it is valid for re-entry to the U.S.

Travel Signature

All F-1 & J-1 internationals are required to obtain a travel signature in order to return to the U.S.  For F-1 students and J-1 students and research scholars, the signature is valid for one year or until the I-20 or DS-2019 expires, which ever is earlier.  For J-1 short-term scholars, the signature is valid for 6 months or until the DS-2019 expires, which ever is earlier.  During OPT, the signature is valid for 6 months.  Visit your OIS office to obtain a travel signature.  

If you are not able to visit an OIS office for a signature, you can complete a shipping label using eShip Global and request to have an I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature shipped to you.  Once you have completed the shipping label, email to let us know.

For J-1 Alien Physicians sponsored by ECFMG, only ECFMG personnel can provide the required travel validation signature.  Please consult the ECFMG travel page for more information.