Santa Clara University


Travel & Re-Entry


What is Domestic Travel?

"Domestic" Travel is travel within the United States.  Examples: Hawaii, New York, Los Angeles, etc.

What is International Travel?

"International" Travel is travel outside of the United States.  Examples: Going to your home country, Mexico, Canada, China, India, etc.

Do I need to bring anything with me?

Domestic:  Yes.
  • Current I-20 or DS-2019
  • Valid Passport
  • Valid I-94
International:  Yes.
  • Current I-20 or DS-2019 with a valid Travel Signature
  • Valid Passport with Valid Visa
  • Transcripts
  • Financial Documents
  • International Student Advisor Contact Information
If you are on OPT, you must also bring:
  • Valid EAD Card
  • I-20 page 3 marked for Post-Completion OPT
  • Job offer letter
  • If applicable, Bank statement
Have more questions?  Read about OPT.

Can I travel during the Academic term?

Skipping or missing class to travel is strongly discouraged by ISS.

Travel Advising & Signatures

When should I come into ISS?

You should come into ISS if:

  • you need a New Travel Signature
  • you have an expired visa
  • your I-20 is about to expire
  • you are on OPT
  • FAQs don't answer your questions
Do I need a new I-20/DS-2019?

Generally, no, but you may need a new travel signature.

If you are going to be out of the U.S. for more than 5 months, you will need to request a brand new I-20/DS-2019 for re-entry to the U.S.  This I-20/DS-2019 will have a new SEVIS number and you will need to pay the SEVIS fee and apply for a new F-1 visa before returning to the U.S.

What is Travel Advising?

Travel advising is offered by ISS advisors as a way to ensure that students are prepared for the challenges of re-entry to the U.S.

What is a Travel Signature and why do I need one?

A travel signature is a signature that goes on your I-20/DS-2019.  It is required to re-enter the US during the F/J program after travel abroad.

Who signs this?  Can I sign this?  Can I get a professor to sign for me?

Only ISS advisors can provide travel signatures for you.  You cannot sign, SCU professors cannot sign, your roommate cannot sign, the front desk student assistant cannot sign.  Only ISS advisors can provide a travel signature.

Okay.  Well, what will the advisor need to give me a travel signature?

We do travel advising and travel signatures during Walk-In hours.  Bring your:

  • passport
  • most recently issued I-20/DS-2019
to ISS along with any documents for your dependents.

When do I come in for travel advising?

Come in during Walk-In advising hours, at least one week before your travel.

Where is my travel signature located on my I-20?

Bottom of the last page.

Where is my travel signature located on my DS-2019?

Bottom right hand corner of page 1.

I got a travel signature recently.  Do I need to do this every time?

See below.

How long is my travel signature valid for?

J-1/F-1: Your travel signatures are typically valid for one year or until your program end date, whichever is sooner.

Post-Completion OPT: Your travel signature is only valid for 6 months.

Is there anything else I should know about travel signature validity?

Yes, many immigration officials interpret "one year" as meaning one academic year.  It is recommended that you request a travel signature each academic year.

I'd like to be on the safe side.  Can I have someone check my travel signature and make sure it is valid?

Sure.  Please come in during walk-in hours at least one week prior to travel.

What if I want to travel during OPT?

In general, if you have an unexpired EAD card, a valid I-20 with a travel signature, and have maintained your status, you may travel abroad and return to the U.S. to resume employment after a temporary absence.

Are there any restrictions that I should be aware of?

Yes.  There are a couple of special situations you should be aware of.  Read below and determine if any apply to you.

Can I still travel internationally if I have a "Cap-Gap" I-20 or an expired EAD card?

It is not recommended that you depart the U.S. if you have a "Cap-Gap" I-20 (expired EAD card), as you might not be allowed to re-enter!

 What if I don't have a valid job offer?

If you are outside the U.S. and you do not have a job offer at the time of re-entry, you might not be permitted to re-enter. 

We strongly recommend that you DO NOT travel without a valid job offer.

What if I travel to the U.S. on a tourist visa?

If you enter the U.S. on a tourist visa (B-1/B-2 or the "visa waiver program"), you forfeit your F-1 status.  This means that you will not be able to work!

Can't I just come back on an F-1 visa afterwards?

Once you have been admitted on a tourist visa, you will NOT be allowed to quickly "re-gain" your F-1 status by departing and re-entering in F-1 status once again.

I'm not doing a job, I'm volunteering or doing an un-paid internship.  So, I don't have a job offer letter.  What should I bring?

Bring evidence of your volunteering/internship.

Do I need to bring a bank statement?

If your employment letter does not specify a salary, you must provide proof of sufficient funds in the form of a bank statement.

Wait, I want to travel and I'm soon to be an OPT student.  I can't travel, if I do not yet have my EAD card?

If you have applied for OPT and have graduated, do not leave the U.S. until you have received your EAD card.  

Are there any exceptions if I don't yet have an EAD card?

Only one - If you have applied for OPT and will re-enter the U.S. prior to the completion date in Section 5 of your I-20, you may re-enter without an EAD card.

That exception doesn't apply to me, are there any other exceptions?

No.  The ISS Office strongly discourages travel during this time as you may not be permitted to re-enter the U.S.

Should I give the immigration officer my I-94 when I depart the US?


I just got a new passport that does not yet have any visa stamps - is this sufficient to show the immigration office when I return to the U.S. from abroad?

No, you should bring BOTH your expired passport AND your new passport together with you when you travel abroad.


U.S. Immigration rules are complex and change often.  The goal of our website is to provide general information to assist Santa Clara University's International Student and Scholar community.  Each International Student and Scholar is personally responsible to maintain their lawful immigration status and follow all U.S. laws and regulations.  If you have any questions or unique circumstances not addressed here, please contact the Global Engagement Office and request to meet with an expert International Student or Scholar Advisor.