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Travel


 When traveling outside the U.S., it is recommended to carry the contact information for ISSS 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.

Reminder: If you are traveling to a country other than your home country please be sure to check if a visa is necessary for entry. Please note – Canada recently changed their travel procedures. Read more about the ETA program here.

FOR F-1 & J-1 STUDENTS  

To request a travel signature, complete the Travel Signature Request on the ISSS Portal. Processing time is 5-7 business days. You will be notified once your request is processed.

F-1 Students: Your new I-20 will be uploaded electronically to your ISSS Portal record.

J-1 Students: You will be contacted to schedule a DS-2019 pick up or mailing.

Click here for travel tips from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

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
  • Proof of vaccination and negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of departure.

The I-20 and DS-2019 both indicate that travel endorsement signatures are valid for up to one year.  ISSS recommends that signatures be dated within 6 months of your return.  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
  • Proof of vaccination and negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of departure.

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.  To request a travel signature, complete the Travel Signature Request on the ISSS Portal. Processing time is 5-7 business days. Once processed, you will be contacted to schedule a DS-2019 pick up or mailing request.

Although, the DS-2019 indicates that travel endorsement signatures are valid for up to one year, ISSS recommends that your signature is dated within 6 months of your planned return.  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:

J-2 dependents must also have their DS-2019 endorsed for travel.