Valid Travel Signature Requirement
International students must have a valid travel signature on the Form I-20 upon re-entry to the United States. The travel signature can only come from a Designated School Official (DSO) within ISSS. Academic advisors and faculty members may not sign the I-20.
How Long is a Travel Signature Valid?
- The I-20 document states, “Each certification signature is valid for one year.” However, we know from experience that signatures more than 6 months old can cause problems upon re-entry. Therefore, ISSS recommends a travel signature be less than 6 months old at the time you attempt re-enter the U.S.
Where is the Travel Signature?
- On the I-20, page 2.
How to Request a Travel Signature
- Log into iStart
- From the iStart homepage: click on F-1 Student Services and submit the Travel Signature Request e-form.
- After submission, an ISSS advisor will review your e-form submission within 3-5 business.
- Upon approval, ISSS will email you an updated I-20 with an electronic travel signature on page 2.
- You must print and sign this document to present at re-entry.
- Know Your Rights at the Port of Entry: The American Civil Liberties Union publishes a helpful pamphlet called “Know Your Rights,” which contains information about your rights in case you come into contact with law enforcement at the airport or other ports of entry to the U.S. We encourage you to review this information, especially before international travel into the U.S. It contains useful questions and answers, and a list of other resources and referral contacts should you ever need them.
- Grace Period: If you are in your 60 day Grace Period and you depart the U.S. - the grace period automatically ends. You cannot re-enter the U.S. with your expired I-20 document.
- 5 Month Rule: If you are outside the U.S. for more than 5 months, then your I-20 may automatically expire - regardless of the travel signature date. For students who are continuing their program by conducting research outside of the U.S., please note that you must obtain documentation from your department prior to departing the country that explains your stay outside the U.S for this time period. You are required to discuss this with an ISSS advisor before you depart.
- Forgot Your I-20: If you arrive to a U.S. Port of Entry without your I-20, you may not be allowed immediate entry. You may go to secondary inspection (a waiting area for further questioning that can take several hours) or possibly be refused entry to the U.S.
- Questions or Concerns: Please contact an ISSS advisor if you have any questions or concerns before traveling.
Visa Renewal Information
International students must have a valid F-1 visa to present with their Form I-20 upon re-entry to the United States. You should check with the embassy where you will visit to learn what documentation is required for visa renewal.
Below is a list of documents ISSS recommends you obtain for visa renewal:
- Passport valid for at least six months after date of reentry into the U.S..
- Signed I-20 or DS-2019.
- Official transcripts (available for request in your PAWS account).
- Financial certification.
- Copies of all I-20s or DS-2019s previously issued to you.
- Employment Authorization Document (if applicable).
- Proof of Employment--pay stubs, offer letter, or letter of support (if applicable).
Transferring Your SEVIS Record to Another School
Upon your request, ISSS will determine eligibility and can transfer your SEVIS record to another institution. Your new school will access your SEVIS record and create a Transfer Pending I-20 after the record is transferred from Georgia State University to the new school.
Please be aware: Your SEVIS (immigration) record and academic record are 2 different things. Therefore, transferring academic credit to a new school does not transfer your immigration (SEVIS) record. It’s a separate process.
Request Transfer-Out of SEVIS Record
- Obtain an official letter of acceptance from the new school. Your new academic program should begin within the 5 months following your final term at GSU, program completion, OPT authorization expiration.
- Log into iStart
- From the iStart homepage: click on F-1 Student Services and submit the Transfer Out e-form.
- After submission, an ISSS advisor will review your e-form submission within 3-5 business days and notify you via email of a decision or follow-up for more information.
- Transferring-out after the start of a semester at Georgia State must occur within the 1st 30 days of the term.
- After completion of study, a transfer-out is only possible within the 60 day Grace Period.
- You may transfer your SEVIS record while engaging in OPT; however, your OPT authorization ends on the date of the SEVIS transfer-out.
ISSS Contact Information for New School
If your new school has questions or concerns for ISSS regarding your SEVIS transfer, please provide them our contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
They should use the email subject line: SEVIS Transfer Out Query for Current GSU Student.