Travel and reentry
What you need to know
We will help you be prepared for the documents and travel requirements that come with living and studying in the United States.
Initial entry to the US
Students who have been issued a new initial I-20 or DS-2019 to regain their immigration status need to travel abroad and reenter according to the established guidance for entry to the US.
Travel outside the US and reentry
If you are planning to travel internationally, please review all of the following information to ensure you have taken all of the necessary steps as you leave and reenter. If unsure, make an appointment with an ISSS Advisor to ensure you have all of the documents and information needed.
To prepare for traveling abroad and reentering the United States, you should check that your immigration documents are valid prior to departing. The following are the required immigration documents for reentry.
Passport Accordion Closed
A passport is an official document issued by a government certifying a person’s identity and nationality. International students must always have a valid passport and should carry it with them whenever they leave Flagstaff. Students should notify ISSS@nau.edu if their passport is lost, stolen, or expired; however, students must contact their country’s embassy for a passport renewal or replacement.
Visa and visa renewal Accordion Closed
The F/J-1 visa sticker permits students to enter the United States for a specific purpose for a specific period of time. The visa may either be for single (one time) or multiple entries (many entries).
Your legal immigration status in the United States remains valid even if your visa expires during your stay in the United States under the following conditions:
- Form I-20/DS-2019 is valid
- Form I-94 lists the correct class of admission
- Form I-94 lists correct admit until date (see below)
However, if your visa is expired and you depart the United States, you will be required to obtain a new visa before reentering the United States. It is not possible to renew your student visa in the United States. The visa renewal process is similar to the first-time visa application.
Note: If traveling to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands please see below for more information.
I-20 or DS-2019 with travel signature Accordion Closed
F-1/J-1 students and their dependents must have a travel signature on their I-20/DS-2019 when returning to the US. Be sure the information on your I-20 or DS-2019 is both current and accurate. If you are an F-1 student, your I-20 must have a valid travel signature on page two under “Travel Endorsement” section. If you are a J-1 student, your DS-2019 must have a valid travel signature in the “Travel Validation by Responsible Officer” section of page one. Each travel signature is valid for one year (6 months for students participating in F-1 OPT) while you are a student at Northern Arizona University.
How can I request a travel signature?
To receive a travel signature, complete the travel signature request e-form on iNAU. Go to “F-1/J-1 Student Services” tab in the left panel. Click on “Travel Signature” on the next page and complete the form. Please allow up to 5 business days to process your travel signature.
Our travel signature process is fully digital for F-1 students. When your request is processed, ISSS will email you a new digital I-20 with a travel signature on it. You must save, print, and sign the I-20. Please remember that you only need a travel signature to reenter the United States. You can request a travel signature while abroad at least 5 days before your travel to the US.
J-1 students are required to drop off their DS-2019 document at the Center for International Education. Your international student advisor will process your request within 5 business days. ISSS does not currently support digital DS-2019 documents. Always remember to travel with your original printed and signed DS-2019 to avoid travel complications.
I-94 Accordion Closed
An I-94 is a record of your legal entry to the United States and indicates your class of admission and the end date of your legal status in the US. Your I-94 can be located after each entry to the United States on the Department of Homeland Security I-94 website.
Each time you travel and reenter the US you should check that your Form I-94 is correct and upload a copy at iNAU. It should include:
- F-1 students
- class of admission: F-1
- admit until date: D/S or “duration of status”
- J-1 students
- class of admission: J-1
- admit until date: either D/S (duration of status) or the program end date listed on your DS-2019
If there is an error with the class of admission or admit until date, contact ISSS immediately.
We recommend printing a copy of your most recent I-94 and keeping it together with your immigration documents.
Travel while on OPT
During OPT, students can travel outside the United States and may be readmitted to begin or resume employment for the remainder of the period authorized on their EAD card, if the student has all the documents below:
- I-20 showing OPT ‘Approved’ and a travel signature from within the last 6 months
- an unexpired EAD
- an employment letter showing that the student is resuming or beginning employment
- a passport valid at least 6 months into the future
- a valid F-1 visa (unexpired)
Travel to Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands
Traveling to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands for a period of less than 30 days, students should be permitted to reenter on an expired visa, provided that it corresponds with students’ current status and the I-20/DS-2019 is valid, with a valid travel signature. Please meet with your ISSS Advisor prior to making any travel plans.
Other international travel
If you are planning to travel internationally to a country other than your home country, you are responsible for securing any visas or other requirements (such as vaccines) you may need. Please contact the consulate/embassy of the country you will be visiting for any requirements.
On Friday, January 31, 2020 a new Executive Order was issued by the US President adding additional countries to the previously existing travel ban. These travel bans have ended. Please find all updates on the State Department website.
Issues during travel
While hopefully no issues occur during your travel, it is always important to be prepared in case they do. Please review the information below to assist you if any issues arise.
What if I forgot a document or travel signature?
If you forget to bring your immigration document with you or do not have a travel signature, you may be issued a form I-515A from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which allows you to be admitted to the US temporarily for 30 days. If you receive an I-515A, you must contact us at email@example.com immediately.