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Santa Clara University

Travel

ISS & Immigration Updates Related to COVID-19

  • San Francisco and San Jose airports are continuing operations during the shelter in place and students are able to depart from the U.S.
  • If you've considered the risk of international travel and plan to leave the U.S. please review our travel website (below) for a list of documents that you should carry with you.
  • You do not need to meet with our office before leaving the U.S.
  • If you need an updated travel signature on your I-20: Email iss@scu.edu. The email subject line should be "updated travel signature" in the email body include your full legal name, your SCU ID, your date of departure from the U.S. and your planned date of re-entry (if any). In the coming weeks we will create an updated I-20 for you with a new travel signature. Once the I-20 has been created you will be sent an email with instructions on how to create a shipping label so the we can mail the I-20 to you prior to your return to the U.S.  

Up-to-Date Immigration Advising and FAQs here.

How long is your travel signature valid for?

Enrolled F-1 students: 1 year

Alumni on F-1 OPT or STEM OPT Extension: 6 months

J-1 or J-2 Exchange Visitors: 1 year

For more travel advice, select the box that matches your current immigration status:

F-1 Enrolled Students

Current students are free to travel during academic breaks, including weekends, Thanksgiving, Winter Break, Spring Break and Summer Break. 

When entering the U.S. F-1 students should carry the following documents:

  • Passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond your date of entry
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp
  • Valid, up-to-date I-20 with valid travel signature (the travel signature is on page 2 of your I-20 and is valid for 1 year)
  • Documents showing you’re a student
    • For example: your SCU student ID, a print out of your eCampus unofficial transcript, class schedule for the upcoming term
  • Documents showing your ability to pay for tuition and living expenses
    • For example: proof that you either have already paid tuition or proof that you have the money to pay tuition for the upcoming term

If you do not have a valid F-1 visa stamp or if your F-1 visa stamp will expire prior to your desired entry into the U.S., please visit our office during drop-in advising hours before booking any travel plans.

 

Visit our office during drop-in advising hours. Please note, no one other than you should be in possession of your I-20. We will not be able to give your I-20 to anyone other than you.

Generally we do not recommend travel during the academic term. F-1 students are expected to not only enroll in, but also attend a full course of study. Additionally, attendance and participation are integral to your classes and required for your academic success.

If you have an urgent situation that requires you to travel outside of the U.S., please email iss@scu.edu or visit during drop-in advising hours to discuss this with our team.

F-1 Alumni on OPT or STEM OPT Extension

Alumni are free to travel at any point in their practical training period.

When entering the U.S. F-1 alumni on OPT or STEM OPT Extension should carry the following documents:

  • Passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond your date of entry
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp
  • Most recently issued I-20 with valid travel signature (the travel signature is on page 2 of your I-20 and if you have completed your degree, the signature is valid for 6 months)
  • Valid OPT or STEM OPT EAD Card(s)
  • Proof of OPT / STEM OPT engagement
    • For example: job offer, an employment verification letter, and / or a few recent pay stubs

If your travel is more than 30 days, you should collect documentation from your employer approving your travel. 

If you are employed, please be sure that you have properly reported employment to our office via our OPT Reporting Portal.

If you do not have a valid F-1 visa stamp or if your F-1 visa stamp will expire prior to your desired entry into the U.S., please visit our office during drop-in advising hours before booking any travel plans.

If you are missing any of the required documents, do one of the following:

  • Visit our office during drop-in advising hours. Please note, no one other than you should be in possession of your I-20. We will not be able to give your I-20 to anyone other than you.
  • Email ISS with a list of several days and times you’re free and we can schedule an appointment that works for your schedule.
  • For SCU alumni engaged in F-1 OPT / STEM OPT living outside of California Bay Area:
    • (1) Mail your most recent I-20 to ISS at least 2 weeks prior to your departure date. We recommend you use a traceable method for mailing. Your package must include a note that includes your travel dates and phone numbers.
    • (2) Then follow the instructions at scu.edu/issmailing to have your I-20 shipped back to you. You will be able to designate the mailing location and instructed how to pay for the shipping label.

You must have a valid OPT or STEM OPT EAD in hand in order to re-enter the U.S. after the program end date listed on your I-20.

We don’t recommend leaving the U.S. while your OPT application is pending and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agrees with us. If USCIS needs extra documents to approve your case and issues a Request for Evidence (RFE), you may have a hard time responding while you are outside of the U.S. If your case is approved while you’re outside the U.S., you will need to have the EAD card in your hand to get back in the U.S. and USCIS will not mail the card to an address abroad.

You must have a valid OPT or STEM OPT EAD in hand in order to re-enter the U.S. after the program end date listed on your I-20.

We don’t recommend leaving the U.S. while your STEM OPT extension application is pending and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agrees with us. If USCIS needs extra documents to approve your case and issues a Request for Evidence (RFE), you may have a hard time responding while you are outside of the U.S. If your case is approved while you’re outside the U.S., you will need to have the EAD card in your hand to get back in the U.S. and USCIS will not mail the card to an address abroad.

In order to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status after travel abroad, you must carry the appropriate travel documents. Our team is happy to answer questions about your F-1 student status and record. Typically it is not recommended to travel while an H-1B Change of Status is pending. Further questions related to your H-1B and how travel can impact your H-1B filing should be directed to a qualified immigration attorney.

J-1 Exchange Visitors

Non-degree Students, Professors and Research Scholars

J-1 Students are free to travel during academic breaks, including weekends, Thanksgiving, Winter Break, Spring Break and Summer Break. 

J-1 Scholars are free to travel at any time during their program but should not be outside of the U.S. for more than 30 days at a time. If you must be outside the U.S. for more than 30 days, contact scholars@scu.edu for guidance.

When entering the U.S. J-1 Exchange Visitors (students and scholars) should carry the following documents:

  • Passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond your date of entry
  • Valid J-1 visa stamp
  • Most recently issued DS-2019 with valid travel signature (the travel signature is on page 1 of your DS-2019; the signature is valid for 1 year)
  • Proof of your program participation 
    • Student examples: your admission letter, your class schedule
    • Scholar examples: your invitation or employment offer letter
    • Proof of your health insurance
    • Proof of funding documents

If you do not have a valid J-1 visa stamp, or if your J-1 visa stamp will expire prior to your desired entry into the U.S. please contact our office for advising before booking any travel plans.

  • Students, email iss@scu.edu (include your full name and that you are in J-1 status in the email)
  • Scholars, email scholars@scu.edu (include your full name in the email)

If you are missing any documents or have questions about travel, please contact our office for advising:

  • Students, email iss@scu.edu (include your full name and that you are in J-1 status in the email)
  • Scholars, email scholars@scu.edu (include your full name in the email)

F-2 Dependents

F-2 dependents are free to travel at any time during their program. There is no time limitation to the duration they can be outside the U.S. F-2 dependents are not eligible to enter the U.S. if the F-1 primary student is not travelling with them or already in the U.S.

When entering the U.S. F-2 dependents should carry the following documents:

  • F-2 Spouse: Proof of Marital Relationship (such as, marriage certificate, with translation)
  • F-2 Child: Proof of Parental Relations (such as, birth certificate, with translation)
  • Proof of funding for time in the U.S. (must be dated within 3 months and in English)
  • Proof of the family member’s F-1 status
    • Copy of F-1 student's most recent SCU I-20
    • Copy of F-1 student's passport and F-1 visa stamps
    • Copy of F-1 student's I-94 (print here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/)
    • If the F-1 student is a currently enrolled student: 
      • Copy of the admission letter
      • Enrollment verification letter or transcripts
      • Class schedule print out
    • If the F-1 student has graduated and is on OPT / STEM OPT: 
      • Copy of your OPT / STEM OPT EAD card(s)
      • Letter from your company verifying the OPT / STEM OPT employment
      • 3 Pay-stubs showing the OPT / STEM OPT employment 

J-2 Dependents

J-2 dependents are free to travel at any time during their program. There is no time limitation to the duration they can be outside the U.S. J-2 dependents are not eligible to enter the U.S. if the J-1 primary student or scholar is not travelling with them or already in the U.S.

When entering the U.S. J-2 dependents should carry the following documents:

  • Passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond your date of entry
  • Valid J-2 visa stamp
  • Most recently issued J-2 DS-2019 with valid travel signature (the travel signature is on page 1 of your DS-2019; the signature is valid for 1 year)
  • J-2 Spouse: Proof of Marital Relationship (such as, marriage certificate, with translation)
  • J-2 Child: Proof of Parental Relations (such as, birth certificate, with translation)
  • Proof of funding for time in the U.S. (must be dated within 3 months and in English)
  • Proof of health insurance
  • J-2 EAD Card (if any)
  • Proof of the family member’s J-1 status:
    • Copy of J-1's DS-2019
    • Copy of J-1's passport and visa stamp
    • Proof of J-1's health insurance
    • J-1 student documents: your admission letter, your class schedule
    • J-1 scholar documents: your invitation or employment offer letter

What To Expect When Entering The U.S.

Please visit our Arrival In the U.S. page for more information about what to expect when entering the U.S. and going through immigration inspection with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

I-94 Admission Record

Once you re-enter the U.S. we recommend that you download and save or print your new I-94 Admission Record which proves that you were properly admitted to the U.S. Typically your I-94 Admission Record is automatically updated each time you enter the U.S. and should be available within 24 hours of admission.  If you are unable to retrieve your I-94 within 24 hours of admission, or notice error please contact our office via email at iss@scu.edu.

If you will be driving or walking into the U.S. from Mexico or Canada rather than flying into the country, you will need to manually request an I-94 Admission Record before you enter the U.S.

 

More questions?

If you have additional questions or need travel advising, you're welcome to visit our office during drop-in advising hours. We wish you safe travels.

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.