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Travelling Home and Returning to the U.S.


1. If you are leaving the country please remember that you need a valid travel signature on the 3rd page of your I-20 (or 1st page of your DS-2019) and that it takes 5 business days to process. 

The staff at the Office of International Student and Study Abroad Services (ISSAS) needs this time so that we can look at your SEVIS record and verify that you are in active status to ensure a smooth re-entry back into the United States upon your return. 

If you are leaving in less than 5 business days we will be happy to mail you your I-20/DS-2019 to you if you provide us with your home address.  Remember, your I-20/DS-2019 is not necessary to leave the country--only to re-enter. You can also request us to send your I-20/DS-2019 by express mail (FedEx) for a $50 charge.

Please note: Signatures are valid for one year upon re-entry for F-1 and J-1 students. This one-year validity period is stated above the signatures on page 2 or 3 on an I-20 and on page 1 of the DS-2019. You are not required to get your I-20/DS-2019 signed once a year if you do not travel outside of the U.S. But, if you do need to leave the United States, look at the date of the last signature to make sure the most recent signature will not be more than 1 year old when you re-enter. 

F-1 Students: Please see page 2 or 3 of your I-20 and the note above the signature lines which reads:
"This page when properly endorsed, may be used for reentry of the student to attend the same school after a temporary absence from the United States. Each certification signature is valid for one year."

J-1 Students: Please see the "Travel Validation by Responsible Officer" section on page 1 of your DS-2019 and the note below which reads: "Maximum validation is for 1 year." (This only pertains to students in the J-1 category - This period may be different for J-1s in other categories).
Also please note if your DS-2019 was issued by another organization, you will need to contact your sponsoring organization to request a travel signature.

A special note for F-1 students on OPT: The signature on page 2 or 3 of your I-20 is valid only for 6 months, not one year. In addition to the general guidelines on this page, be sure to also read the OPT applications found on our website for special information regarding travel while on OPT:

2. Enrollment letters from the OIP are not needed.  Your I-20 is your international office verification of your eligibility as a student at NDSU. It may be helpful to carry a copy of your current transcript to prove your enrollment at NDSU. You can also consider getting an enrollment verification from NDSU:

3. Please remember that you must possess a valid visa and passport to return to the U.S. When you are returning, you must obtain your electronic I-94 number after your entry.

  • Please note that between April and May 2013, the I-94 "card" became an automated electronic process for air travel. After April 2013, a log of your entry information will be available on a website managed by Customs and Border Protection:
  • Also please see this handout for some tips on accessing your I-94 online.

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Office of International Student and Study Abroad Services
North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-7895 - Fax: +1 (701) 231-1014
Campus address: Memorial Union 116
Physical/delivery address: 1401 Administration Ave / Memorial Union 116, Fargo, ND  58102
Page manager: International Student and Study Abroad Services

Last Updated: Monday, August 17, 2015 10:45:39 AM