Do I need a travel signature?
For travel within the U.S., including it’s territories such as Puerto Rico, the 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 USA, 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 USA.
- 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 USA 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 USA 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.
How to get a travel signature
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 U.S. If you need a Travel Signature, you have the option of taking your I-20/DS-2019 to the 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 Northeastern identification number. Visit the events page for the dates for travel signature sessions.
*Notice for all international students, scholars and faculty regarding travel.
Northeastern University requires all students and highly recommends all faculty and staff, to enter their travel itinerary and housing accommodations abroad into “My Travel Plans,” also called the “Travel Registry.”
This allows the university to communicate directly with travelers if unexpected events or conditions create circumstances that might pose health or safety risks. In addition, it enables on-campus resources and external support providers to better respond to students, faculty, and staff who may need medical or security assistance.
Trouble Returning to the US
If you have any trouble returning to the U.S., please contact the International Safety Office
International Safety Office:
Office of Global Services:
Re-entering the U.S. after a trip abroad
You should carry the following when you re-enter the U.S. after a trip abroad:
- A passport which should be valid for at least six months from the date you return to the U.S.
- A valid F-1 or J-1 visa
- Your most recent form I-20 (F visa) or DS-2019 (J visa) with a valid travel signature
- If you are a full-time student who will continue studying after you return to the U.S., 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 U.S.
- If you are on Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training, Post-Completion Optional Practical Training, or Academic Training, 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 U.S.
It is also recommended that you bring with you:
- Any previously issued I-20s or DS-2019s
- Proof of your enrollment (you may request an Enrollment Verification from the Registrar’s Office)
- Proof of funding (as reflected on your I-20 or DS-2019)
Upon your return, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will issue an I-94 (your arrival/departure record) to you. If you arrive by land, you may receive a paper I-94 that you should keep with your passport. If you arrive by plane, you will be issued an I-94 electronically; print the most recent I-94 after each entry into the U.S. Your I-94 should be marked with your visa type (F-1 or J-1) and an “admit until date” (Duration of Status). If there is an error on your I-94, notify the OGS.
Travel to Canada, Mexico, or U.S. adjacent islands
If you travel to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands adjacent to the U.S. (other than Cuba) for less than thirty days with your valid passport, a valid form I-20 or form DS-2019, and your most recent form I-94, you may be eligible to travel with an expired F or J visa. This process is known as automatic visa revalidation. However, you must meet certain conditions in order to be eligible for automatic visa revalidation. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for more information on eligibility.