International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), along with the rest of The University of Texas at Austin, will be closed for the winter break, December 23 – January 1. During the break, ISSS advisors will not be available for assistance.
The University will open for the spring semester starting Tuesday, January 2, 2024.
In addition to the holiday closure, the Main Building will be closed for renovations just before and after the break, December 15-22 and January 2-9. While still available during this time, ISSS staff will be working remotely, and no in-person services will be offered.
What if I need support from ISSS during the break?
- Students: Immigration requests (e.g., travel signatures, F-1 and J-1 student work authorizations) must be submitted through myIO no later than December 8 for processing before the winter break.
- Scholars: For H1-B scholars who need to check out their I-797 H-1B approval notice for international travel or J-1 scholars who need a travel signature on their DS-2019, please contact the faculty and scholar services team by December 8 for assistance.
- Advising Appointments: Schedule ISSS advisor appointments now! Appointment slots fill up quickly as we get closer to the end of the year. The last day for advising is Thursday, December 21.
I’ll be traveling internationally during winter break. How should I prepare?
If you are traveling internationally, review these steps to make sure you’re prepared!
Step 1: Make sure your passport and U.S. visa are valid.
Step 2: Prepare your electronic devices for travel.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may want to inspect your laptop, cellphone or other electronic devices. This also includes reviewing your social media content.
Keep in mind that if you are carrying UT Austin data or equipment, it may require approval before leaving campus to avoid issues of export control.
Step 3: Prepare your travel documents.
F-1 and J-1 visa holders: Make sure you have a valid travel signature. See below for information on how to determine if your I-20 or DS-2019 is ready for travel.
H-1B visa holders: Check out your I-797 Approval Notice before December 8 and be sure you have an H-1B visa stamp in your passport. You must have the original I-797 and proof of employment to reenter the U.S. Additionally, if you have changed your status to H-1B while in the United States, be sure to obtain an H-1B visa at the U.S. consulate in your country before returning to the United States. You must have an H-1B visa stamp in your passport at the time of your reentry as the original I-797 is not sufficient on its own.
If you have further questions about traveling or applying for a visa, please schedule an appointment for faculty and scholar advising.
Step 4: Review your I-94 arrival record after you return to the U.S.
Make sure that your entry is properly reflected including the correct visa status and duration of stay. For F and J visa holders, the duration should be D/S (duration of status). H-1B holders will have the date of their H-1B visa stamp expiration or passport expiration, whichever is sooner.
If there is an error on your I-94 record, please contact ISSS in January 2024 for assistance in correcting it.
Tip: Check your I-94 record while still at the airport. If there is an issue, you might be able to get it corrected immediately by CBP.
What do I need to remember about I-20/DS-2019 travel signatures?
Knowing how to maintain your I-20/DS-2019 travel signature is important. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- The travel signature is needed to reenter the U.S., not to leave the country.
- The travel signature can be sent to you electronically.
- The last advisor signature on Page 2 of your I-20 or Page 1 of your DS-2019 must be no older than one year from the day you reenter the U.S. If you require a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019, please apply by December 8 to receive it by December 22. Otherwise, you will receive your I-20 after ISSS reopens on Tuesday, January 2, 2024.
- F-1 and J-1 Students: You may request a new I-20 travel signature or DS-2019 travel signature online in myIO.
- J Scholars: Request a signature on your DS-2019 through myIO or by contacting the faculty and scholar services team directly.
What if I have an immigration emergency while UT Austin is closed?
We know that sometimes things don’t go as expected. If you experience an emergency while the University is closed, know what to do.
Immigration emergencies include:
- Trouble at the U.S. port of entry
- Immediate danger of being deported from the U.S.
- Detention by a federal officer
Non-emergency immigration issues include:
- OPT/STEM OPT reporting
- Travel Signature
- Lost I-20 or DS-2019
- Needing a new I-20/DS-2019
- Lost/stolen passport
- Visa delay
For immigration emergencies, contact UTPD for assistance.
For non-emergency immigration needs, do not call UTPD. Instead, consult the ISSS website for guidance. ISSS staff will be ready to assist students with non-emergency immigration issues after UT Austin reopens on Tuesday, January 2.
I’m staying in Austin during winter break. What should I do?
If you are staying in Austin for the break, you can attend the many festive activities happening in the local community. Take the opportunity to explore the city and have new experiences!
On behalf of Texas Global, we wish you a safe, happy, and healthy holiday. See you in 2024!