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F-1 and J-1 Travel

Students and scholars wishing to reenter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status after travel abroad will require all of the following:

  1. Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 that was travel-endorsed by the ISO during the semester that the international travel occurs.
  2. A valid visa stamp (see exceptions in the visa section).
  3. A valid passport (see the Department of State's website for exceptions).

Additionally, students returning to the U.S. after filing for or obtaining post-completion optional practical training employment authorization should be prepared to present evidence of their OPT with their EAD card and a job offer letter.

The ISO recommends a travel signature at least once every semester in which you travel, and proximate to the date of departure.  If on F-1 OPT, we recommend a travel signature at least within 6 months of the date of departure, though once per semester is the more strongly recommended course.


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.

Students and scholars in F-1 or J-1 status should visit the ISO during advising hours to obtain a travel endorsement on Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 approximately two weeks before any planned travel abroad. When applying for a travel endorsement, you must submit all of the following:

  1. Your current Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 (and forms of any traveling family members)
  2. Travel Request Form
  3. Evidence of medical insurance (also for any traveling family members)
  4. Passport (and passports of any traveling family members)

Students and scholars should be aware of potential delays in visa processing due to possible security checks, or as the State Department refers to as "administrative processing."  You should discuss supporting documentation with the ISO prior to travel, and include the possibility of significant delays in your travel.


**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 a 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.