Travel Signature Requirement

Get a travel signature from ISS prior to international travel!

  • You must have a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 to return to the U.S. after travel abroad.
  • Each signature is valid for one year. (F1 students on OPT: the travel signature is valid for six months).
  • A travel signature is issued by your ISS adviser to confirm you are maintaining your F1 or J1 student status.
  • The travel signature is required for returning to the U.S. It is not required for leaving the U.S.
  • If your current travel signature will expire before you will return to the U.S., you must request an updated travel signature.
  • The travel signature is on page 2 of your I-20 or the front page of your DS-2019.

How To Obtain a Travel Signature

In Seattle:

  • Submit your I-20 or DS-2019 to the ISS front desk between 10 am and 4 pm, Monday through Friday.
  • Plan to leave your I-20 or DS-2019 overnight. ISS requires one business day to issue a new travel signature.
  • You can pick up your signed document the next business day after 10 am.
  • If you are leaving too soon to pick up the signed document, ISS can mail the document to you.
  • Same-day travel signatures are not issued except for emergency travel.

From Outside the Seattle Area:

  • Mail your I-20 or DS-2019 to your ISS adviser.
  • Include a note about how you would like your I-20 or DS-2019 returned to you. ISS can pay for standard air mail. If there is not time for standard mail, you must arrange for express mail.
  • If you are returning to the U.S. so soon that there is not time to mail an original I-20 or DS-2019 to you, contact your ISS adviser and review the emergency travel information below.

Emergency Travel

If you have an emergency travel need when the ISS is closed (weekends and federal holidays), go ahead and depart the U.S.

The travel signature is required for returning to the U.S. It is not required for leaving the U.S. Follow the instructions above for obtaining a travel signature from outside of the Seattle area.

What if I do not have enough time to receive a new I-20 or DS-2019 with a valid travel signature before returning to the U.S.?

If your travel plans do not allow enough time for us to ship a new document to you before you return to the U.S., then you must either change your anticipated return date, or travel without a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019.

If you choose the latter option, it is most likely the Customs and Border Protection officer at the U.S. Port of Entry will issue you an I-515 form. This form would allow you temporary admission to the U.S. for 30 days. During the 30 days you must visit ISS for drop-in advising, receive an updated travel signature, then submit the I-515 form to the address provided on the I-515. You would then be allowed to remain in the U.S. as normal.

Please note, however, that temporary admission with an I-515 is at the discretion of the CBP officer and cannot be guaranteed by ISS. On rare occasions you may be denied entry to the U.S., and you should be aware of this risk before travelling.