Hi, everyone. We hope you are having a great fall semester! With Thanksgiving and winter break on the horizon, many of you may be planning to travel internationally. Please let this be your gentle reminder that when you do eventually head back to the United States to resume your studies, you will need:
- a valid passport
- a valid F-1/J-1 visa
- an I-20/DS-2019 form with a recent travel signature for re-entering the U.S.
Make sure you review the Know Before You Travel page for a full list of the documents you’ll need to successfully re-enter the country. For more information about travel signatures, read on.
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 to re-enter the U.S. from abroad. 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.
Do I need a travel signature every time I travel internationally?
Not necessarily. A travel signature on an I-20/DS-2019 is valid for one year. If you have recently received a travel signature and plan to re-enter the U.S. before it expires, you may not need to request another one at this time. Be sure to check Page 2 of the most recent copy of your I-20, or the bottom right section of your DS-2019.
For F-1 Students on OPT: Your travel signatures are only valid for six months, so we highly recommend that you submit a request for a new travel signature within a time frame that will align with your re-entry into the country.
Can I get a travel signature if I am abroad?
Yes, we can email you an updated I-20/DS-2019 with a new travel signature. We have been doing this for F-1 students since 2020, so the policy is well established and understood by government agencies, including the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Digital travel signatures and digital delivery of J-1/DS-2019 is relatively new, so we recommend that J-1 exchange visitors 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 the updated policy.
All F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors must print out their electronically sent I-20/DS-2019, sign it in blue ink, and present it at the port of entry.
How do I obtain a travel signature on my I-20/DS-2019?
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, our advising team will review the request and then send your signed I-20/DS-2019 when it’s ready.
We kindly ask that you allow up to 10 business days for your travel signature request to be approved. Make sure you submit your request with enough time for approval before you return to the U.S.
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 easier for you. Again, don’t forget to review the Know Before You Travel page before you go.