Winter Break Travel and Visa Information

Re-entry Requirements for Current Students and Scholars

Returning for Spring 2017:

Continuing student/scholar: The signature on the bottom of page 2 of I-20 or on the bottom right corner of page 1 of your 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 time frame, then a new travel signature is required.

Students on OPT: Travel signatures for students on OPT are valid for 6 months. 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.

J-1 Short-term Scholars: Travel signatures are valid for 6 months or until the end of program, whichever is sooner.

If you need a new travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019, you have 2 options:

1. Request a Reprint of Your I-20/DS-2019. Email the I-20/DS-2019 Request Form to 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. As a reminder, OIS will be closed from December 23, 2016 to January 2, 2017. Requests submitted during this time will not be processed and mailed until January 3 when the office reopens.

2. 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 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**

Applying for F‐1 or J‐1 Visa during Winter Break

If your F‐1 or J‐1 visa has expired, you will need to apply for a new visa for re‐entry. You are urged to check with the U.S. consulate or embassy where you will apply for the visa ( to determine that particular post’s policies and procedures.

For information on waiting times for F‐1 and J‐1 visa appointments at U.S. embassies and consulates, visit the following link:

Note to Students: Due to security checks, the period of Winter Break may not be long enough to receive clearance AND a renewed visa to come back for class on January 9. If you have any problems, please contact OIS when we reopen on January 3, 2017 and we will be able to advise you on your options.

Emergency Contact Information during Winter Break

Emergencies at U.S. Port of Entry:  USC Department of Public Safety (DPS) at (213) 740-6000

OIS email account ( will be checked periodically during winter break.  Please note that only inquiries requiring immediate attention will receive a response before January 3, 2017.