Travel Outside the U.S.

Enrolled Students

If you have been maintaining your status, you are allowed to leave and reenter the United States for a temporary absence of less than 5 months (for example: summer vacation).

To reenter the U.S., you must carry the following original documents:

  • I-20/DS-2019: You must have a valid travel signature from International Student Services on your I-20/DS-2019 (if your DS-2019 was not issued by the UA, please contact Joanne Lagasse-Long or Marie Willard if you plan to travel). Travel signatures are valid for 1 year from the date signed. ISS recommends that your travel signature should not be more than 6 months old when you reenter through a land port of entry. You do not need to request a new travel signature for each entry to the U.S., as long as the current signature is still valid.

  • Passport: Your passport must be valid 6 months into the future from the date of your entry into the U.S. Exceptions apply for students from countries with agreement with the U.S. allowing entry with a passport until the date of expiration.

  • Visa: You must have a valid visa to reenter the U.S. If you are from Bermuda or Canada, you are not required to apply for a visa but you still must carry your I-20/DS2019 with valid travel signature. If your visa has expired, you must renew it while you are outside the U.S. Visit the U.S. Department of State website to find the nearest consulate or embassy in the country and learn about application requirements. If your visa has expired and you are traveling to Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island for less than 30 days, you may be eligible for automatic visa revalidation. Meet with an international student advisor to discuss your specific situation.

Students on Post-Completion OPT and STEM OPT Extension

Since you are still in F-1 status while you are on OPT, you must carry the documents listed above in order to reenter the U.S. Travel signatures are only valid for 6 months while you are on post-completion OPT.  To request a travel signature and updated I-20 with your employment information printed on page 2, submit the OPT Reporting e-form in UA International. Normal processing is 5 business days.

You should carry the following additional documents:

  • EAD: On the bottom of the EAD card it says “not valid for reentry to the U.S.” This statement means that the EAD card alone is not sufficient documentation for entry to the U.S.  Present your EAD card in combination with the documents listed above.
  • Employer Letter (recommended): The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) recommends that you carry a letter of employment if you have one (read Can I reenter if I left while on OPT?). There is no specific template for the employer letter.

If your application for post-completion OPT is pending and your I-20 end date has passed, it can be risky to leave and reenter the U.S.  Read Can I reenter if my request for OPT is pending? If you must travel, meet with an international student advisor to discuss your specific situation.

Request Travel Signature Pre-Approval

  1. Submit the Travel Signature Pre-Approval e-form in UA International.

  2. ISS will review your eligibility for a travel signature. If you are eligible, you will receive an email from to notify you. Normal processing time is 5 business days.  Do not bring your I-20 or DS-2019 to ISS until you receive the email notifying you that you have been pre-approved.

  3. Bring or mail your I-20 or DS-2019 to ISS within 5 business days of receiving the approval email for an on-the-spot travel signature. If you do not bring or mail your I-20 or DS-2019 to ISS during the approval period, then you will no longer be considered “pre-approved” and you must submit a new request for travel signature pre-approval through UA International.


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Study in the States

U.S. Department of State 

NAFSA, Association of International Educators