International travel is in a fluid state, and new travel restrictions could arise at any moment. A signed I-20/DS-2019 is not required to depart the U.S.; however, international students and scholars who are reentering the U.S. must ensure they have a valid travel signature on their I-20/DS-2019. 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 to the U.S. 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.
How to Request a Travel Signature Remotely
Students/scholars who need a travel signature should request one prior to their departure from the U.S. if possible. Please refer to the document processing time and arrange your travel/re-entry plans accordingly.
To request a travel signature, the student must submit an I-20 Request Form. The processing time for these requests is seven (7) business days. The I-20 will be signed electronically and emailed to student’s USC email account. U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS), Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), and Department of State (DoS) accept electronically signed I-20s.
To request a travel signature, the student or scholar must download, complete, and follow the instructions on the DS-2019 Travel Signature and Request Form. Electronically signed DS-2019s will not be accepted by the Port of Entry officers; therefore, signed DS-2019s will be return to the J-1 student/scholar via eShipGlobal.
Did you forget to get your I-20/DS-2019 endorsed for travel?
Enter the U.S. on I-515A. The I-515A is a document issued by the U.S. Port-of-Entry officer that allows students and scholars to re-enter the U.S. 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 U.S. Port-of-Entry officer. Since this is a temporary stay document that only allows 30 days stay in the U.S., it is very important that you contact OIS 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 emailed until the office reopens.
Reminder: Upon re-entry to the U.S., students should print out their I-94 Arrival/Departure record.