Travel Outside the U.S.
Students and scholars wishing to reenter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status after travel abroad must present the following to Immigration:
- Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 endorsed for travel by the ISO no later than 12 months from your return from international travel.
- A valid visa stamp. In general, a valid visa stamp is required for nonimmigrants returning to the U.S. after travel abroad. An exception to this rule exists when traveling only to Canada or Mexico (and in some circumstances, certain adjacent territories) with automatic visa revalidation
- A valid passport at least 6 months beyond the date of readmission to the U.S. (See the Department of State's website for exceptions).
If on post completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), in addition to the requirements cited above:
- Valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD card)
- Proof of employment
- Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 endorsed for travel by the ISO no later than 6 months from your return from international travel
How Often Should I Get my I-20 or DS-2019 Signed?
A travel signature is valid for 12 months. If on F-1 OPT, we recommend a new travel signature every 6 months.
Dependents wishing to return to the U.S. in F-2 or J-2 status must comply with the same conditions including a travel endorsement on their I-20 or DS-2019.
How Do I Get a Travel Signature?
Travel Signatures can be requested by completing the "I-20 Reprint Request" (F-1) or "Request Travel Signature" (J-1) on ISSP Connect.
Students and scholars in certain academic fields (typically in the sciences) should be aware of potential delays in visa processing due to possible security checks, which the State Department refers to as "administrative processing." If you think you may be subject to administrative processing, we suggest you bring the following to your visa appointment:
- An official transcript
- Student & Advisor's CV
- A letter prepared for you on departmental letterhead with your name, degree level or academic appointment title, number of years you have been in your program or position, source of research funding, and expected date of return to the university. The letter should include a non-technical overview of your research and its applications. If the research has no military or defense applications and does not involve export-controlled technology or information, state this.
Plan for the possibility of significant delays and carry supporting materials when you travel. Once the decision to undergo administrative processing is made by the U.S. Consulate, there is nothing the University can do to accelerate the process.
Never enter the U.S. on a Tourist Visa (B-2 or B-1/B-2) or the Visa Waiver Program (WB or WT) throughout your period of F-1 or J-1 status, including an approved period of F-1 OPT or J-1 Academic Training. This includes summer and holiday travel while you are still actively an F-1/J-1 student/scholar or on OPT or academic training. Entry to the U.S. as other than F-1 or J-1 will constitute a change of status, and F-1 benefits will be abandoned., including the ability to enroll at UVA.