Travel Outside the USA
A travel signature is a required endorsement on page 2 of an I-20 or page 1 of a DS-2019 which allows continuing students or their dependents to reenter the U.S. upon return from a trip abroad. A travel signature does not apply to students who take a leave of absence and reenter the U.S. with a brand new I-20.
- You must provide the International Center with a Travel Request Form each time you travel, even if your previously obtained travel signature is still valid.
- Apply for a travel signature at least two weeks before you plan to travel.
Make sure your I-94 record shows your appropriate status F-1 (if you have an I-20) or J-1 (if you have a DS2019), and D/S (Duration of Status) by visiting https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov. Students who travel during winter or summer vacation are required to report to us no later than the first day of the semester.
Your travel hold will be lifted once you report. Failure to report on time will lead to SEVIS termination.
Visit the I-94 website to Get Most Recent I-94. Once you have completed the online form, print out the document and keep it with you.
Be sure your passport is valid for at LEAST 6 MONTHS into the future prior to travel!
What do I do if my passport is expired?
Check the website of your home country’s appropriate government office for application information. Allow extra processing time if you need to extend your passport.
Your passport should be valid up to six months into the future prior to your return trip to the U.S., and if expired:
- Check the website of your home country’s appropriate government office for application information.
- Allow extra processing time if you need to extend your passport.
What do I do if I lost my passport or visa?
You will need to report the lost or stolen document(s) to the police, Campus Security and us at the International Center. This link will provide more details about how to proceed: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/lost-or-stolen-travel-documents.html
Carry the following documents with you when traveling:
- Valid Passport
- Original form I-20 or DS-2019 with travel signature. (Hold onto all originals)
- Financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses
- Copies of current semester registration and pre-registration for next semester
F-1 or J-1 visa application students must ALSO carry:
- Official transcript
- Enrollment Verification Letter (if required by consulate/embassy for visa application
- Evidence you have paid tuition and fees (Bursar's receipt)
- School ID card with current semester sticker
To complete the proper application, click on the link that best applies to your situation:
On November 5, 2015, the Department of State instituted a policy of prudentially revoking the non-immigrant visa of any individual charged with a DUI-related offense while in the United States. If you have a DUI-related offense in the U.S., your visa will be revoked upon departure from the U.S.
Application Procedure for Currently Enrolled Students with a Valid F-1 or J-1 Visa
Step 1: Review your accounts and documentation to ensure you meet the following eligibility requirements for a travel signature:
Attendance and physical presence are required by immigration for international students to maintain status. The University allows students to take a short-term leave not exceeding 14 calendar days per semester for EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES while school is in session. The Short-Term Leave Request Form must be signed by the student’s professors, the academic advisor and academic dean. Exceeding the 14 calendar days could negatively impact a student’s SEVIS record.
• Ensure there are no holds on your account. If there are any holds, fulfil the requirements so that your hold can be lifted. If you have any questions, please contact the relevant offices.
• Register for a full course load (9 credits for Master’s degree students, 12 credits for Bachelor’s degree students and 14 credits for Chiropractic students).
• If it is your last semester and you have less than a full course load remaining, provide a signed Academic Part-time Authorization Form. Graduate engineering students must follow Normal Program Definition and no need to submit a part-time permission form.
• Pre-registration for the next semester if you are traveling during summer or winter vacation.
• Summer semester enrollment is optional unless you begin or complete your studies in a summer semester.
• Your GPA must be at or above the University's minimum requirement (3.0 for Master’s degree students /2.0 for Bachelor’s degree students).
• Your I-20 is valid and it has a future expiration date.
• The validity of your passport must be six months or more from the date you will return.
• Current semester balance must be $0.
Step 2: Click on Travel Signature Request Form for Current Students only. Fill out, print, and then sign the form with pen.
You will receive a travel signature on your I-20 once the form is processed.
Note: For students on OPT, please read the full procedure at the bottom of the page.
If you have an Expired F-1 or J-1 Visa, you must:
Step 1. Complete the Application Procedure for currently enrolled students with a Valid F-1 or J-1 Visa.
If I travel to Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island, can I reenter the U.S. with an Expired Visa?
For further information, please visit Automatic Revalidation on the U.S. Department of State travel.state.gov website or consult an International Student Advisor.
Application Procedure for Students on OPT
Step 1. Submit OPT Travel Signature Request Form
When your I-20 has been signed with a travel signature, you will receive a notification through the form you submitted. Please do not submit duplicate forms. Before you submit any travel request, make sure that your employment information is current and correct by viewing your employment information through your SEVP Portal Account. For employment change or update, refer to Student Statement for 12-month OPT or Student Statement for 24-month STEM OPT, whichever is applicable to you.
Step 2. Receive your I-20 via mail.
An I-20 with travel signature will be emailed to your UB email account.
Step 3. Carry these documents with you when you return.
When returning to the United States, please carry at least the following:
• I-20 that reflects your OPT approved status with travel signature from an International Student Advisor dated within the last six months.
• Valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD card).
• Valid F-1 visa and passport.
• Proof of employment (letter of permission for travel from employer with specific travel dates).
Please remember even carrying all the above documents, it is still very risky to travel while you are on OPT.
Reporting to International Center for Students and Scholars after Traveling Outside the U.S. while on OPT
When you return from a trip abroad, please notify us right away. For reporting, submit an Online Passport Check-in Form. Attach your most recent entry stamp and I-94 electronic record (found on www.cbp.gov/I94). Make sure your I-94 record shows your appropriate status F-1 and D/S (Duration of Status).
- If your 12-month OPT has expired and your STEM OPT extension is pending, you cannot travel outside the U.S.
- If you are on Cap Gap, you cannot travel outside the U.S.
- Traveling outside the U.S. for 5 months or more will lead to violation of your F-1 status and cancellation of your OPT.
Current students must report to the International Center for Students and Scholars
You are required to report physical presence upon arrival to the U.S. at the International Center for Students and Scholars. Our office is required by immigration to report your physical presence and enrollment through SEVIS. Each time you return from a trip abroad, please report in person to us at G-133 of the Wahlstrom Library promptly.
- UPDATE local address (within 10 days of a change)
- Fill out and submit the Online Travel Check-in form on the portal or on UB webforms.
- VISIT G133 Wahlstrom Library at the International Center BEFORE UB reopens for class in order for your hold to be removed
- US Entry stamp should show F-1 and D/S (Duration of Status)
What if my travel plans change after submitting the form?
Notify us of any changes to your itinerary at firstname.lastname@example.org and our staff will determine, if necessary, how to proceed.
Travel By Land Outside of U.S.
Travel Inside of U.S.
Special note for travel within the U.S.: Be sure to carry with you identifying documents and proof of school enrollment even when traveling within the U.S.
To learn whether you need a tourist visa to visit Canada, please visit the website of the Consulate General of Canada in New York.
In general, many F-1/J-1 students, and their F-2/J-2 dependents, may travel to Canada and come back within thirty days or less even if their F-1/J-1 or F-2/J-2 visa is expired. There are important limits and exceptions. Please visit Automatic Revalidation to see if you are eligible for it.
Remember that travel to Canada or any other country requires you to have certain documents to come back.