ISSS has recently been notified that SEVIS – the database used by the Student & Exchange Visitor Program, part of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – will be unavailable from 8pm on Friday, June 26th through 8pm on Sunday, June 28th with possibility of a bit longer of a delay. They are performing a major system upgrade.
If possible, avoid traveling into the United States between these dates. Many of you may already have your flight booked. If you are traveling, make sure you have an I-20/DS-2019 with a valid travel signature (within 6 months), your passport, your visa, and any other documents recommended to you by ISSS staff. There is a possibility that if you are sent to secondary inspection you will have extremely long delays. They will not have access to your immigration record since the system will be down. This may result in missed flights while they speak with you about your status in the US if the delay is long.
This outage will also not allow you to pay the SEVIS fee during the scheduled dates. Please plan accordingly and pay before June 26th or wait until the system is back up. If you are an incoming student or scholar and will need to pay your SEVIS fee before your visa interview, do not wait. Pay your SEVIS fee as soon as possible.
Social Security Numbers or Driver’s License Applications: Systems for verifying immigration status will not be available. Apply prior to the outage or wait a few days after the outage to avoid any issues.
When traveling outside the U.S., it is recommended to carry the ISSS contact information in case it is requested at the Port of Entry. During business hours (Monday-Friday, 8AM-5PM), ISSS can be reached at 615-322-2753. After business hours, Port of Entry officials can call the Vanderbilt Operator at 615-322-7311 for assistance in reaching an ISSS staff member.
US-VISIT Program Exit Procedures
US-VISIT exit procedures are being tested at some air- and seaports around the country. If your port of departure has US-VISIT exit kiosks, you are required to comply with the exit procedures before leaving the U.S. We recommend that you ask airline staff about the exit kiosk availability at the check-in counter. For more information about US-VISIT program, please visit the Department of Homeland Security US-VISIT website.
FOR F-1 & J-1 STUDENTS
No appointment is necessary for travel endorsements. Simply visit ISSS during regular business hours (8am – 5:00pm, Monday – Friday). At the ISSS sign-in make sure you check that you need a travel signature and complete all information. Leave your document with the International Suite Receptionist. Two business days later, your I-20/DS-2019 will be ready for pick up.
An F-1/J-1 student pursuing a full course of study wishing to leave the U.S. and return after a temporary absence of five months or less may do so with the following:
- Valid passport
- Valid F-1/J-1 Visa (unless exempt from the visa requirements)
- Form I-20/DS-2019 properly endorsed for travel by ISSS within current term
The I-20 and DS-2019 both indicate that travel endorsement signatures are valid for up to one year. ISSS recommends that students have travel signatures at least from the current semester to indicate they were in status. If you have ever encountered difficulty re-entering the U.S. or have ever applied for reinstatement, it is advisable to obtain a new signature from ISSS and to request an official transcript from the Registrars Office.
F-1 Students on Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)
An F-1 student in their last semester who has applied for post-completion OPT may travel outside the U.S. and return after a temporary absence with a valid passport, valid visa, and valid form I-20 endorsed for travel.
An F-1 student who is engaged in OPT after completion of their degree who travels outside the U.S. temporarily (less than 5 months) can be readmitted to resume employment for the remainder of the OPT period authorized on the EAD card, with the following documents:
- Valid passport and F-1 Visa
- Form I-20 signed for travel by ISSS within the last 6 months
- An unexpired EAD card (OPT approval card)
- Letter of employment to prove resuming employment
F-2 and J-2 Dependents must also have their I-20/DS-2019 endorsed for travel
FOR J-1 STAFF OR FACULTY
If you are a J-1 scholar/professor/specialist, you should also obtain a signature from ISSS. Please have your department e-mail email@example.com to confirm your current employment or bring a recent pay stub when you drop off the DS-2019. Although, the DS-2019 indicates that travel endorsement signatures are valid for up to one year, ISSS recommends that you have it signed more frequently, as the travel endorsement is evidence of your current status. If you have had any difficulty entering the U.S. in the past, travel with a recent pay-stub so you can provide additional proof of your status.
To reenter the U.S. you should have the following in hand:
- Valid passport
- Valid Visa
- DS-2019 signed for travel within last 6 months
- Recent pay-stub and/or letter of employment from department
J-2 dependents must also have their DS-2019 endorsed for travel.