Travel Information

Beginning on 01/26/2021, all air passengers traveling to the United States will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test within 3 days before their flight or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19. Please read the CDC press release and the CDC Order for more information. 

COVID-19 Travel Restrictions: By means of several Presidential Proclamations, the U.S. has suspended entry to the U.S. for all foreign nationals (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non U.S. citizens) arriving in the U.S. who were physically present in the People's Republic of China (excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau), the Islamic Republic of Iran, the European Schengen area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, or Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

When traveling outside the U.S., please make sure you locate all of your immigration documents prior to your departure and make sure your most recent visa document (I-20, DS-2019, I-797, etc) has a valid travel signature. Be sure to check that your entry visa and passport are still valid as well. If either of these documents have expired, you will need to make plans to have them renewed in advance of your travel. Failure to have all required documents may jeopardize your ability to re-enter the U.S.

Before departing the U.S., read these webpages on How to Renew Your U.S. Visa and Required Documents to Re-enter the U.S.

If you need the ISSO to ship a new document to you internationally, please see our webpage on shipping immigration documents via eShipGlobal for instructions.

If you run into any trouble at the U.S. Port of Entry, call the ISSO front desk (781-736-3480) during our office hours or Public Safety (781-736-5000) on holidays, weekends or after business hours.


How to Obtain a Travel Signature

While the ISSO is working remotely due to COVID-19, you may log into the ISSO Portal located on the left sidebar to request an I-20 with an updated travel signature. We will ship your document to you. 

A travel signature on a Certificate of Eligibility I-20 or DS-2019 verifies that the student or scholar has maintained a valid status and is eligible to re-enter the U.S. Those on F-1, J-1 or F/J dependent visas must make sure that their I-20 or DS-2019 documents have been signed for travel within the last 12 months before traveling outside the U.S. If a student is on Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) or the STEM OPT Extension, you will need to have a travel signature on your I-20 from within the last 6 months upon re-entry. The ISSO recommends that Brandeis students and scholars who travel to Canada and back request an updated travel signature if it is more than 6 months old.

If you do not have any lines left in the "Travel Endorsement" section on your I-20 or DS-2019 for a travel signature, please log in to the ISSO Portal to request a reprint of your document. We will create a new I-20 or DS-2019 for you with a new travel signature within 1-2 business days.

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


What to Do If You Have Traveled Without Your Immigration Document

If you arrive at a U.S. port of entry and do not have all your signed required documents, have not paid the I-901 SEVIS Fee on your current Form I-20 or have a SEVIS status issue, a CBP officer may issue you a Form I-515A, “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor.” The Form I-515A admits you to the United States for 30 days while you obtain and submit the proper documentation to SEVP. Please see our website for more information on what to do if you are issued an I-515A.

CBP and Social Media

The ISSO has received reports of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) searching the contents of travelers' electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. Customs officers may ask travelers to provide their device passwords or unlock their devices when they are entering or leaving the U.S. Officers are not allowed to select travelers for questioning or a personal search based on religion, race, national origin, gender, ethnicity, or political beliefs. However, while U.S. citizens cannot be denied entry to the U.S. for refusing to provide passwords, visa holders may run the risk of being denied entry if they refuse to provide a password or to unlock devices. Student and scholar visa holders should consider the risks before deciding how to proceed.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) provides Know Your Rights when encountering law enforcement at the airport for your reference.  Please contact ISSO if you have any questions or would like to obtain our list of attorneys.  

Travel Within the U.S.

We recommend that you carry your valid, unexpired passport with a visa stamp, your I-20 or DS-2019, and your EAD card (if you are on OPT) while you are traveling within the U.S. to prove that you have legal status. If you are traveling within 100 miles of a U.S. border, this is a requirement as you may be stopped by a member of Customs and Border Protection or law enforcement. You do not need a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 while traveling within the U.S. For travel by air, it is required that you have official photo identification which could include a passport, driver’s license or state ID.

Travel for Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens do not require an entry visa to enter the U.S. from Canada, but do require an I-20 (F visa) or DS-2019 (J visa). All Canadian citizens are required to show a passport to enter the United States.

Those entering the U.S. to study should request F-1 status at the border and must show the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 and supporting financial documentation to the immigration officer at the port of entry.

Be sure to check your electronic I-94 to make sure that the I-94 was properly noted with F-1, D/S or J-1 D/S.

If you have a paper I-94, often it will not be removed from your passport when you leave the U.S., and you will not receive a new one when you re-enter. This is not a problem. Just be aware that if the I-94 card is removed, you must get a new one (or receive an electronic I-94) with the F-1 D/S notation when you re-enter.

Report U.S. Port of Entry Issues — DHS TRIP

If you have been detained at a U.S. port of entry because you have a "flag" on your record for some reason, you can inquire and file a complaint through the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP).

If you would like assistance from the ISSO submitting this form, please make an appointment by calling 781-736-3480.