Travel and Re-Entry

Traveling Outside of the U.S. (With Exit and Reentry)

If you plan to travel outside the U.S., you will need to request a travel signature on your Form I-20/DS-2019 and be aware of important immigration and security regulations to ensure that you can leave and re-enter the U.S.

When you re-enter the United States after traveling, you should expect thorough screening procedures at airports and other ports of entry. You may be delayed by a “secondary inspection” if you do not have proper documents, had some previous immigration problem or error, or if you simply fall under certain criteria or circumstances.

Visa Validity:

Your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond the date of entry. There are come countries that have an agreement with the U.S. allowing entry with a passport until the date of expiration; a full list can be found here. If the visa is not valid for travel, you will be required to renew your visa before you re-enter the U.S. To re-enter to the U.S. you will need to present the following:

  • A valid passport
  • A valid visa 
  • Your current Form I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature

    Traveling Within the U.S. (Without Exit and Reentry)

    An immigration regulation exists which says that international visitors to the U.S. must carry their “registration document” with them. The “registration document” for F-1 students and J-1 students and scholars is the Form I-94. 

    Traveling in the Kutztown and Pennsylvania area: Store your passport and Form I-20/DS-2019 in a safe and secure location to avoid loss or theft. You should keep with you a printed most recent Form I-94.

    Traveling in the U.S. far from Pennsylvania, we recommend bring the following original documents on your trip:

    • Passport
    • Form I-20 or DS-2019
    • Printed most recent Form I-94
    • Important Notes Regarding Pending and Approved OPT:

      If your post-completion OPT has been approved (EAD card has been issued by USCIS) and you have a job or a job offer, you may leave and re-enter the U.S. in order to begin or resume employment. If your post-completion OPT has not yet been approved, it is generally permitted (with the appropriate travel documentation) to leave and then re-enter the US, even if you do not yet have a job or job offer. However, the International Office does not recommending traveling outside the U.S. with a pending OPT status for the following reasons:

      • Re-entry to the U.S. is always at the discretion of the officer at the U.S. port of entry. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are not always consistent in determining which documents are required for re-entry with a pending or approved OPT application.
      • There are increased risks associated with a pending OPT application. For example, if your OPT is approved while you are outside the U.S., CBP may request evidence of the EAD card as a condition for re-entry after your I-20 end date.
      • If you need to apply for a new F-1 visa while out of the country, there could be a risk you will be denied the new F-1 visa if you cannot document you have both a pending (or approved) OPT application and a job to start (or return to) after being admitted to the U.S.
    • To Obtain a Travel Signature on Your Form I-20/DS-2019:

      Step 1: Check the validity of your passport. 

      Step 2: Gather the following documents:

      • Passport
      • Most recent I-20/DS-2019

      Step 3: Schedule a 15 minute appointment with the International Office by emailing Bring all documents with you to your appointment. Staff will check that you meet the following criteria before providing the travel signature:

      • Meet immigration requirements of full course-load (If a student). 
      • Be in good standing if you are student (If a student). 
      • Have health insurance. 
      • Have updated contact/address information on file.