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.
If you need to receive documents from ISSO, please see our webpage on receiving immigration documents via eShipGlobal for instructions.
If you should run into any trouble at the U.S. Port of Entry call the ISSO Front Desk (781-736-3480) during week days or Public Safety (781-736-5000) on holidays, weekends or after business hours.
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.
How to Obtain a Travel Signature
To obtain a Travel Signature, drop off your I-20 or DS-2019 at the ISSO Front Desk and it will be ready to pick up after 12:00 noon on the following business day.
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 that was signed on your form I-20 within the last 6 months upon re-entry. 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 more lines left on your I-20 or DS-2019 for a Travel Signature, please 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.
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 I-94 (paper and electronic) 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.
What to Do If You Have Traveled Without Your Immigration Document
If you do not have your immigration documentation (I-20, DS-2019, I-797A, etc) when entering the U.S., you may be issued an I-515A, which is a temporary 30-day admittance to the U.S. Please see our website on the Form I-515A for further details on what to do.
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.