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International 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.


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. A travel signature is valid for one year unless the F-1 student is on Optional Practical Training (OPT), and in that case, the travel signature is valid for 6 months.

All F-1 and J-1 students should download the electronic I-94 admission record upon reentry and ensure that they are admitted in either F-1 or J-1 status with an end date of D/S. If you are admitted in a different visa category, or if the end date on the I-94 has anything listed other than D/S, contact your assigned ISSS advisor immediately.

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

J-1 Students: You will be able to access the electronic copy of the DS2019 on the ISSS Portal.

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

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