F-1 I-20 Travel Signature Requirement

Get a travel signature from OISS before international travel!

  • You must have a valid travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 (see example below) to return in F-1 status.
  • Travel signatures are valid for one year for continuing students and valid for 6 months for students on OPT.
  • If your I-20 does not have a travel signature that will be valid on the date of your return to the U.S., you must receive a new travel signature from your OISS F-1 advisor before traveling outside of the U.S.
  • Travel signatures are not required to leave the U.S., but you must have a valid travel signature when returning in F-1 status.

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Requesting a Travel Signature

  • Drop off your most recent I-20 at the front desk in the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS), located in 160 Hoggard Hall. Your signed I-20 should be available for pick up the next business day unless otherwise notified.
  • Allow one week for processing in case your OISS F-1 Advisor is out of the office.
  • Request travel signatures several days before any university holidays or closures.
  • Same day travel signatures are not issued.

Emergency Travel

If you have an emergency and need to leave the U.S. when the OISS office is closed (weekends and holidays), you may go ahead and depart the U.S. Valid travel signatures are only required for returning to the U.S. in F-1 status.

If you will need a new travel signature to return to the U.S., contact your OISS F-1 advisor as soon as possible after you arrive at your destination. If time allows, OISS can mail a new I-20 with a travel signature to you when we return to the office.

What if I don't have enough time to receive a new I-20 with a valid travel signature before returning to the U.S.?

If your travel plans do not allow enough time for OISS to mail a new I-20 to you before you return to the U.S., then you must either change your anticipated return date or travel without a valid travel signature on your I-20.

If you choose the latter option, it is likely the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the U.S. Port of Entry will issue you an I-515 form. This form would allow you temporary admission to the U.S. for 30 days. During the 30 days you must receive an updated travel signature and submit the I-515 to the address provided on the form. You would then be allowed to remain in the U.S. as normal.

If you are issued an I-515 you must schedule an appointment with your OISS F-1 advisor as soon as possible after you return to the U.S. 

What if I forgot my I-20 entirely?

If you forget your I-20 entirely, you may ask the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer for an I-515 form upon entry, which may allow your admission in F-1 status for 30 days. Providing proof of registration in courses may help the CBP officer grant you the I-515.

If you are issued an I-515 you must schedule an appointment with your OISS F-1 advisor as soon as possible after you return to the U.S. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: temporary admission with an I-515 is at the discretion of the CBP officer and cannot be guaranteed by OISS. On rare occasions you may be denied entry to the U.S. and you should be aware of this risk before traveling.