Remember to have your I-20 / DS-2019 signed within 12 months of the date you expect to travel back into the U.S. (If the F-1 student is on Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) or the OPT STEM Extension, the travel signature must be valid within 6 months from the date of re-entry to the United States.)

Travel signatures can be obtained at the ISSO by dropping off your I-20 at the ISSO and your I-20 will be signed and ready to pick up after 12pm on the following  business day. 

Sponsored students should contact their sponsoring agency to obtain a valid travel signature.

Required Documents to Re-Enter the U.S.

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Administrative Processing Guidelines

What is Administrative Processing?

Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a consular officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visa, well in advance of the anticipated travel date.

To help prepare for administrative processing, the ISSO recommends including a research plan with your visa application materials, which would include:

  • Your name, degree level or academic appointment title, the number of years you have been in your current academic program or post-doc position, and amount and source of your funding
  • An overview of your research that includes a detailed non-technical description of your research and whether it is basic or applied research. Please specify whether the research has military or defense applications
  • When you are expected to return to Brandeis to continue your studies or research position

Also, we recommend that you submit a letter from your PI or Department Chair describing briefly, in non-technical terms, the specific area of your research and how it fits into the overall research goals of your research group.

While this may not prevent administrative processing, it could result in a quicker resolution to your case.

F-1 Students (current)

F-1 Visa holders should be able to present the following documents re-entering the U.S.:

  • Passport

  • SEVIS Form I-20 with a travel endorsement signature that is no more than twelve months old. (If the F-1 student is on Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) or the OPT STEM Extension, the travel signature must be valid within 6 months from the date of re-entry to the United States.)

  • For your return to the United States, you will also need a valid F-1 Entry Visa Stamp in your passport (see section on visa renewal if needed).

  • Brandeis ID Card

F-1 Students (OPT)

F-1 Students on post-completion OPT should have the following documents when re-entering the U.S.:

  • SEVIS Form I-20 with a travel endorsement signature that is no more than six months old

  • OPT Employment Authorization Document (EAD, also known as OPT Card )

  • Letter from your employer to prove that you have a job to resume when you return to the US or an offer letter to show that you will begin a job upon your return to the US

  • Valid passport

  • Valid F-1 Entry Visa in your passport (see section on visa renewal if needed)

J-1 Students (current)

J-1 Students re-entering the U.S. should travel with the following documents:

  • Passport

  • SEVIS Form DS-2019 with a travel endorsement signature no more than twelve months old.

  • For your return to the United States, you will also need a valid J-1 Entry Visa Stamp in your passport (see section on visa renewal if needed).

  • Brandeis ID Card

J-1 Students (Post-Completion Academic Training)

J-1 Students on Academic Training should travel with the following documents when re-entering the U.S.:

  • Passport

  • SEVIS Form DS-2019 with a travel endorsement signature no more than twelve months old.

  • For your return to the United States, you will also need a valid J-1 Entry Visa Stamp in your passport (see section on visa renewal if needed).

  • Brandeis ID Card

  • employment authorization letter and proof of current employment(letter from employer, paystub, etc.)

J-1 Scholars

J-1 Scholars re-entering the U.S. should travel with the following documents:

  • Passport
  •  SEVIS Form DS-2019 with a travel endorsement signature no more than twelve months old.
  • For your return to the United States, you will also need a valid J-1 Entry Visa Stamp in your passport (see section on visa renewal if needed).
  •  Brandeis ID Card
  •  A copy of your current letter of appointment from Brandeis.
H-1B Scholars

H1-B Status Holders re-entering the U.S. should travel with the following documents:

  • Passport and original Form I-94 card
  •  Original Notice of Approval (I-797) of H-1B (on file at the ISSO)
  •  Copy of entire H-1B application filed by Brandeis to the USCIS
  •  Brandeis ID Card
  •  Proof of employment (letter from employer, current letter of appointment, paystub, etc.)