Hello, everyone! The summer season is in full swing, and we hope those of you back in your home countries are enjoying the sunshine. We’re dropping this blog post today as a gentle reminder that when you do eventually head back to the United States to resume your studies, you will ALL need to make sure you have a TRAVEL SIGNATURE on your I-20 or DS-2019.
Do I need a travel signature to re-enter the U.S.?
Yes, all F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors need a travel signature on their I-20/DS-2019 in order to re-enter the country from abroad – no ifs, ands or buts about it! The travel signature lets U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) know that you have maintained your F-1/J-1 status and are eligible for re-entry.
A travel signature on an I-20/DS-2019 is valid for one year, so if you have already recently received a travel signature, you may not need to request another one before re-entry. Be sure to check your most recent copy of your I-20/DS-2019.
For F-1 Students on OPT: Your travel signatures are only valid for six months at a time, so we highly recommend that you submit a request for a new travel signature within a time frame that aligns with your re-entry into the country.
Can travel signatures be processed digitally if I am abroad?
Yes, travel signatures can be processed digitally! That is some good news we are excited to share with our J-1 exchange visitors specifically. F-1 students have been able to enjoy digital submission and receipt of I-20 travel signature requests, and now, J-1 exchange visitors are able to do the same.
As of April 27, 2023, electronic DS-2019s may be sent to students via email. Since this is a relatively new update, we recommend that J-1 students print out and carry a copy of this notice in the Federal Register for re-entry into the U.S. Having this printout on hand will help if the CBP agent at the port of entry is not familiar with this updated policy.
All F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors must print out their electronically sent I-20/DS-2019, sign it in ink and present it at the port of entry.
How do I obtain a travel signature on my I-20/DS-2019?
We are happy to say that this is a very simple process.
Log on to myIO to submit a travel signature request.
- F-1 Students: myIO > F-1 Student Services > I-20 Travel Signature Request
- J-1 Students: myIO > J-1 Student Services > DS-2019 Travel Signature Request
- J-1 Scholars: myIO > J-1 Scholar Services > DS-2019 Travel Signature Request
When and how will I receive my travel signature?
Once you’ve submitted your request, all you have to do is wait for the request to be approved by an international advisor, who will then send you your signed I-20/DS-2019.
We kindly ask that you allow up to 10 business days for your travel signature request to be approved, so make sure you submit your request with enough time for approval before your return to Austin.
Returning to the U.S.
With your travel-signed I-20/DS-2019 in hand, you’ve already done the hard part of preparing for your return to the U.S. (and we hope we’ve made it easy).
Make sure that you review the Know Before You Travel page for a full list of the documentation you need in order to successfully re-enter the country.
We hope this blog post has found you all in the middle of a well-deserved summer break, and we cannot wait to welcome you all back to the UT Austin campus this fall!