Travel

Travel

As an F-1 or J-1 student or scholar, you may need to visit the Office of Global Services (OGS) for a new travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 before you leave the United States. If you need a Travel Signature, you have the option of taking your I-20/DS-2019 to the Office of Global Services (OGS) where it will be processed within five business days.

Prior to major vacation periods, the OGS often offers travel signature sessions that require pre-registration. Upon successful screening, you will receive your travel signature on the spot. If you come to a session, please bring your I-20/DS-2019 form and your nine digit NU ID number. Visit the events page for the dates for travel signature sessions.

Do I Need a Travel Signature?

For travel within the United States, including U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam, you do not need an updated travel signature. For travel to the rest of the world,

  • If you are a full-time student who will continue studying after you return to the United States, the signature at the bottom of page 2 of your current I-20 (if you are on an F-1 visa) or on the bottom right of your DS-2019 (if you are on a J-1 visa) must be less than one year old when you re-enter the United States.
  • If you are on Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (AT), the signature at the bottom of page 2 of your current I-20 (if you are on an F-1 visa) or the signature on the bottom right of your DS-2019 (if you are on a J-1 visa) must be less than six months old on the day you re-enter the United States.
  • If you have completed one academic program and plan to start another the following semester/quarter and you also have the I-20 or DS-2019 for your new program, then you may travel without getting a travel signature on the I-20 or DS-2019 for your new program. Make sure to take all of your old I-20s or DS-2019s with you when you travel.
  • If you have completed Optional Practical Training (OPT), Academic Training (AT), or your academic program and are in a grace period, you will not be allowed back into the United States on your F-1 or J-1 visa.
  • Any family members traveling with you who have F-2 or J-2 visas will also need to carry the same documents. Please review the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) tips for travel. If you plan to travel when your visa has expired, please see the section below on renewing your visa.

Traveling Within the United States

When traveling within the United States or U.S. territories, you should have:

  • A valid passport with unexpired visa. The passport should be valid for at least six months after your date of entry to the United States.
  • Form I-20 (F visa) or DS-2019 (J visa)
  • Form I-94, your arrival/departure record that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) maintains with information you gave on arrival at U.S. immigration. Print the I-94 each time you enter the United States to carry with you. If you arrived by land, you will have a paper I-94 that you should keep with your passport.

Any family members traveling with you who have F-2 or J-2 visas should carry the same documents.

Renewing Your Visa

Should your visa expire before you return to the United States from a visit abroad, you will need to reapply for the F-1 or J-1 visa abroad. The process is the same as your original student visa application. Refer to the travel preparation steps in the new students section. If you travel to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands adjacent to the United States (other than Cuba) for less than thirty days with your unexpired passport, a valid Form I-20, and your most recent Form I-94, you may be eligible for a process known as automatic visa revalidation. However, if you meet any one of following criteria, you will not be eligible for automatic revalidation of your visa. Please visit the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for more information on eligibility.

Renewing Your Passport

Contact your country’s nearest embassy or consulate in the United States to learn the process for renewing your passport. Your I-20 or DS-2019 will remain valid until its expiry date. Carry both the new passport and the expired passport with your student visa if your country of nationality allows you to keep your expired passport. If your country does not allow you to keep your old passport containing a valid F-1 or J-1 visa, you will need to apply for a new visa the next time you travel abroad.

Global Co-op/Study Abroad

If you will be leaving the United States for more than five months as part of an approved co-op, then you will need an updated I-20 (F visa). Complete and submit the Global Co-op Letter Request to the Office of Global Services (OGS). If you will be leaving the United States for more than five months as part of an approved study abroad, please follow the instructions on the I-20 Request Form.