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Travel Signatures for F-1 Students

What is a Travel Signature?

A travel signature is: An endorsement that an F-1 student is eligible for re-entry into the United States indicated by your International Student Advisor's original signature on the second page of your most recently issued I-20 document.

FAQs

How long is a Travel Signature valid for?

  • Valid to enter the US for 1 year from the date of issue (see exception below)
  • Valid to enter the US for 6 months from the date of issue if you are entering from Canada, Mexico or other bordering territories
  • Valid for 6 months from the date of issue if you are on Post-completion Optional Practical Training
  • Valid for admission to the United States only in combination with a valid entry visa and passport

How do I tell if my Travel Signature is still valid for my upcoming trip?

  • Take out your most recently issued I-20 (you are required to travel using the I-20 you received most recently from your International Student Advisor)
  • Turn to the second page of the I-20 document (see image above) where the Travel Endorsement section is and look at the date of issue
  • If there is no signature there, you do not have a travel signature and must get one before you leave
  • If there is a travel signature there, it is your responsibility to determine if it will still be valid when you re-enter the US using the Step by Step Guide below
  • If you are missing any of the required documents to enter the US or have questions please contact: Maggie Shirland, International Student Advisor, mshirland@massart.edu

Step By Step Guide to Determining if your current travel signature will still be valid when you re-enter the US

  • Compare the date in the travel endorsement section on your I-20 to the date you plan to re-enter the United States after your travels
  • If your travel is to Mexico, Canada or adjacent islands (or you will be connecting in any of these places on your way home), your travel signature should be less than 6 months old on the day that you plan to enter the US
  • If your travel is to anywhere else in the world, your travel signature must be less than 1 year old on the day that you plan to enter the US 
    • Example 1 - Travel to Mexico over spring break:
      • Date of the signature is 12/15/2016 (Dec 15, 2016)
      • You will enter the US from Mexico on 3/20/2017 (March 20, 2017)
      • You do not need a new signature because the one you have will only be 3 months and 5 days old when you are re-entering the US
    • Example 2 - Travel to China over summer break:
      • Date of signature is 12/15/2016 (Dec 15, 2016)
      • You will enter the US from China on 8/20/2017 (August 20, 2017)
      • You do not need a new signature because the one you have will only be 8 months and 5 days old when you are re-entering the US
    • *See below for further examples and details 

What documents are required for *F-1 students to re-enter the US?

  • A valid Travel Signature on your I-20 document
  • A valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport for your planned return date (unless you are from Canada)
  • A passport valid for at least 6 months from the date you plan to reenter the United States
  • A letter from your current employer showing the dates of your employment (only if you are on post-completion OPT)
  • Your EAD (work-authorization) card (only if you are on post-completion OPT)

 *Please note: once you are admitted in F-1 status for the first time, you must continue to enter the US in F-1 status for as long as you are a student in the US. You may not enter the US using a different status (such as a B-1, or Visitor Visa) or your will forfeit your F-1 status.

How do I request a travel signature on my I-20?

  • Ensure that you have all the required documents in order to reenter the United States (see 1-5 above)
  • Complete the Travel Signature Request Form
  • Leave your I-20 and the completed Travel Signature Request Form at the front desk in Student Development (Kennedy Building, 2nd Floor) for the International Student Advisor
  • Return to the front desk in Student Development to collect your I-20 after 2 business days 

Further Examples of Travel Signature Scenarios

Example 1- Travel to China over winter break:

  • Date of your travel signature is 1/22/2016 (January 22nd, 2016)
  • You will enter the US from China on 1/20/2017 (January 20th, 2017)
  • The IEC reccomends you request a new signature because the current signature will expire a 2 days after you plan to re-enter the US
  • If your flight is delayed your travel signature could expire

Example 2 - Travel to France over winter break:

  • Date of your travel signature is 12/15/2016 (December 15th, 2016)
  • You will enter the US from France on 12/17/2017 (December 17th, 2017)
  • You will need to obtain a new travel signature before departure because you will enter the U.S. 1 year and 2 days after your current travel signature expires, (expiry is 1 year from the date of issue)

Example 3 - Travel to China over winter break with a connecting flight in Canada:

  • Date of your travel signature is 01/10/2016 (January 10th, 2016)
  • You will enter the US from Canada on a connecting flight on 12/27/2017 (December 27th, 2017)
  • You will need to obtain a new travel signature before departure because you will enter the U.S. 11 months and 17 days after your current travel signature expires
  • Entering the U.S. from Mexico, Canada or adjacent Islands requires a travel signature of 6 months or newer