Traveling Outside of the U.S.



If you are planning to travel outside the United States, please note the following IMPORTANT information, and follow up with the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) :

  • If you have a valid (unexpired) visa and valid passport, all you will need in order to re-enter the U.S. is a recent ‘Travel Signature’ on your form I-20 for F-1’s or DS-2019 for J-1’s.
  • Travel Signature:  The signature of a Designated School Official (DSO), for F-1s or Responsible Officer (RO) for J-1s is valid for one year, as long as you are registered full-time each semester. However, it is highly recommended that everyone have a new travel signature every 6 months.  If you are traveling and need a signature, be sure to request it from the International Students and Scholars Office well in advance of your departure.
  • J-1 students: If your program sponsor is an organization other than Pace University, be sure to allow plenty of time for sending your DS-2019 to them for a signature.
  • IMPORTANT:  If the visa stamp in your passport has expired, you must get a new one while you are overseas. (see “Renewing Your Visa” link).
  • If you changed your status to F-1 or J-1 after entering the U.S., you most likely do not have a valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in your passport and will need to get one while overseas. This means that you will need to present a new I-20 or properly endorsed DS-2019 with recent financial documentation to the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country (see “Renewing Your Visa” link).

Checklist for Travel (fulltime F-1 and J-1 students):

  • Valid Passport with Visa
  • I-94 Card
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Travel Signature from ISSO (valid for 6 months)
  • If you leave the U.S. upon completion of your degree program within the 60 days grace period, you have forfeited your F-1 status and will need to use different via type in order to come back, even though your grace period was not yet expired. 

Checklist for Travel while on Authorized OPT:

  • Valid Passport with valid F-1 Visa
  • I-94 Card
  • I-20
  • Travel Signature from ISSO (valid for 6 months)
  • EAD Card
  • Letter from employer, confirming employment and/or job offer
  • Consult with ISSO before travelling on OPT

Travel between graduation and OPT filing:

If you do not apply for OPT, but travel outside of the U.S. after your official completion date (during the 60-day grace period), you will have negated your eligibility to apply for OPT, as you won't be able to return under F-1 status.

Travel between graduation and OPT approval: 

You cannot leave the U.S. while your OPT application is pending approval. If you leave the U.S. during that time, your application will be considered abandoned and you will not be able to re-enter under F-1.