U.S. Re-Entry Documentation

You will need the correct immigration documents to travel abroad—most importantly, a valid visa to return to the U.S. to resume your academic activities. If you have questions about travel authorization or returning to the U.S., contact your international student or scholar advisor, or stop by the ISSO during our office hours.

Required US Re-Entry Documents

F and J Status

  • Valid passport
  • Valid visa (except for Canadian citizens)
  • Valid Form I-20 (F-1 status) or DS-2019 (J-1 status) with a valid travel signature from the ISSO

H-1B Status

  • Valid passport
  • Valid H-1B visa (except for Canadian citizens)
  • Valid I-797B H-1B Approval Notice
  • Proof of continued employment, such as an appointment letter and/or recent pay stubs

Travel Signatures

You must have a travel signature (also known as a travel endorsement) for re-entry to the United States. This is an ISSO official’s signature on page three of your I-20 or the right-hand side of your DS-2019. This signature confirms to the U.S. port of entry official that you have been maintaining valid status and plan to continue academic activities at BU.

The signature must be valid on the date you re-enter the U.S. after travel. A travel signature is considered valid if it is dated within one year before your expected return date to the U.S. A single valid travel signature can be used for multiple trips abroad.

If you plan to renew your visa during your trip, or if you are an F-1 student on post-completion Optional Practical Training, the ISSO recommends that you have a travel signature dated within six months instead of one year.

Requesting a Travel Signature

We recommend that you request a travel signature from the ISSO at least one week in advance of departing the U.S.

BU Medical Campus students can request same-day travel signatures. During busy travel times, please come prepared to wait a few minutes for this expedited service.

  • Bring your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, and visa to the front desk of the ISSO and request a travel signature.
  • Please plan ahead as it generally takes 24 hours to obtain a travel signature. Travel signatures requested at the ISSO are ready for pickup the following day after noon.