International travel is in a fluid state, and new travel restrictions could arise at any moment. A signed I-20 is not required to depart the US; however, international students who are reentering the US must ensure they have a valid travel signature on their Form I-20.
How to Request a Travel Signature Remotely
- Download and complete the OIS Travel Signature and I-20/DS-2019 Request
- Select “Request for Travel Signature” and “I have not attached my original I-20/DS-2019. Please reprint and sign for travel.”
- Email the completed form to email@example.com
- Subject line of email should include: Travel Signature: Name of Student, SEVIS #
In response to COVID-19, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has allowed Designated School Officials (DSOs) to electronically sign and email Form I-20 to students. US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Department of State (DOS) have also recently confirmed they will accept electronically signed I-20s. OIS will re-issue the document and endorse it for travel with DocuSign. The PDF file will be emailed to students USC email account.
Students/scholars are required to have a travel signature on their I-20/ DS-2019 in order to re-enter the United States. Only Designated School Officials (F-1)/ Responsible Officers (J-1) at the Office of International Services are permitted to sign the I-20/DS-2019 for travel.
Travel Signature Endorsement and Validity
The signature on page 2 or 3 of the I-20 or on the bottom right corner of page 1 of the DS-2019 is valid for 12 months. If your re-entry date is within 12-months from the last signature, you will be eligible to re-enter on that I-20/DS-2019. However, if you re-enter after the 12-month period, then a new travel signature is required.
J-1 Short-term Scholars and J-1 Students on Academic Training
Travel signatures are valid for 6 months or until the end of program, whichever is sooner.
Information for F-1 students on OPT/STEM OPT
The signature on page 2 or 3 of the OPT I-20 is valid for 6 months from when it was signed. If your re-entry date is within 6 months from the last signature, you will be eligible to re-enter on that I-20. However, if you re-enter after the 6-month time frame, a new travel signature is required.
Requesting a Travel Signature
Students/scholars who need a travel signature should request one prior to their departure from the US. Please refer to the document processing time and arrange your travel plans accordingly.
- Submit the following documents to OIS:
- Travel Signature and I-20/DS-2019 Request
- Original USC I-20/DS-2019 (Include dependents if needed)
- Return to OIS to pick-up signed I-20/DS-2019
Information for students who are requesting a travel signature from abroad:
Option 1: Request a Reprint of Your I-20/DS-2019
Email the Travel Signature and I-20/DS-2019 Request to firstname.lastname@example.org. OIS will reprint your I-20/DS-2019 and sign it for travel. OIS will express mail the document to you at your expense via eShipGlobal. Please be advised that express mail delivery options could take up to 1 week or longer during the holidays and this option may not be feasible depending on your return date. Please keep all previously issued I-20/DS-2019 for your records as you may need them for future immigration benefits.
Option 2: Enter the US on I-515A
The I-515A is a document issued by the US Port of Entry officer that allows students and scholars to re-enter the US on a temporary status of 30 days. If you do not have a valid travel signature, you will likely be issued a Form I-515A by the US Port of Entry officer. Since this is a temporary stay document that only allows 30 days stay in the US, it is very important that you meet with an OIS advisor immediately upon arrival to fix your status to F-1 or J-1 D/S. Entering on an I-515A may cause some delays at the Port of Entry, so please plan accordingly.
Please visit the Contact Us page for OIS office hours and closures. Any requests submitted during weekend or holiday closures will not be processed and mailed until the office reopens.
Reminder: Upon re-entry to the US, students should print out their I-94 Arrival/Departure record.