Reentry Into the U.S.
Be prepared to present the following materials at the port of entry into the U.S.
- I-20 and Travel Signature (pg. 3) from a DSO (F-1 students)
- Passport—valid at least six months into the future
- Valid F-1 visa stamp in passport
- Proof of enrollment (transcript and computer printout of current enrollment, and next semester’s enrollment, if available)
I-20 Travel Signature
Page 3 of your I-20 must be signed by a Designated School Official in the Registration Office before you leave the U.S. This signature will be valid for one year (12 months) and can be used for multiple entries. If you are on OPT, you must obtain a travel signature every 6 months.
To obtain a travel signature, submit your I-20 to the Registration Office front desk. Your I-20 will be available for pick-up the next business day. We require 1 business day to process the travel signature so please plan ahead before you travel.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months when seeking admission or readmission to the United States, unless your country has an agreement with the United States. For a list of countries under this agreement, see the list on the Immigration Customs Enforcement website. Your passport should remain valid throughout your stay in the U.S.
You must present a valid, unexpired visa in the category for which admission is being sought each time you enter the U.S. (Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement; however, landed immigrants of Canada are generally required to obtain a visa.) If your visa expires while you are in the U.S., the next time you travel abroad you must obtain a new visa in the proper category in order to be readmitted to the United States. Apply for the visa in your home country, unless circumstances or travel plans make this impossible. If you apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate in another country, your application may be reviewed more critically than if you applied at home. In-person interviews are required for most visa applicants. You are encouraged to contact the U.S. consulate as early as possible to schedule the visa interview appointment. Anticipate delays in visa issuance due to enhanced security reviews.
Travel With-in the U.S.
If you are traveling with in the U.S. it is recommended that you carry the following items:
- Valid I-20
- I-94 number
Entry Into Another Country
Before you leave the United States, contact the consulate of the country to be visited to inquire about visa and travel procedures. If you plan to visit Canada, contact the Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles to determine if you need a visa to enter Canada.
Travel after completion of studies
F-1 students: If you travel outside the U.S. after completion of studies you may return to the U.S. in F-1 status provided you are in possession of:
- A new 1-20 indicating a new program of study, passport, visa and evidence of financial support.
- An Employment Authorization Document (EAD), I-20 endorsed for OPT and signed for travel within the last six months, proof of employment, passport and visa.
Travel and OPT
If your pre-completion OPT application is pending or approved, you may travel and reenter the U.S.
If your post-completion OPT application is pending, you may travel and re-enter the U.S.
After graduation, if your post-completion OPT has been approved and your EAD issued, you may not re-enter the U.S. unless you have evidence of employment. You should carry the following documents with you:
- I-20 signed for travel by an international student adviser within the last 6 months
- EAD card
- Valid passport
- Unexpired F-1 visa (unless returning from a short trip to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean)
- Evidence of employment in your field of study (letter of employment, written job offer)