Travel during your program

Travel & Re-Entry to the US


Domestic Travel

International Travel

What is this?

“Domestic” travel is travel within the United States.

Examples: Hawaii, New York, Los Angeles, etc.

“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?

  • Current I-20 or DS-2019
  • Valid Passport
  • Valid I-94
  • 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 being marked for Post-Completion OPT
  • Job offer letter
  • If applicable, a Bank Statement

Have more questions? Read our OPT travel FAQ.

Can I travel during the academic term?

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

 Travel Advising and Signatures

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

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.


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

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.


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.

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

  • Most recently issued I-20/DS-2019
  • Passport

to ISS along with any documents for your dependents.

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

It is at the bottom of the last page.

On the DS-2019, the travel signature is located in the bottom right corner of Page 1.

See below.



Post-Completion OPT

How long is this signature valid for?

Your travel signatures are typically valid for one year or until your program end date, whichever is earlier.

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. Come in for walk-in hours.


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.

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

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!

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.

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

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 again.

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

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

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

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

Traveling while on OPT

US immigration regulations are complex and change frequently.  The University strives to maintain a website that is both current and helpful, however, Santa Clara University is not responsible for students maintaining lawful immigration status; this is the responsibility of the student.  Further, resources and links do not constitute endorsement by Santa Clara University.