Winter Break Travel and Visa Information

Re-entry Requirements for Current F‐1 Students and J‐1 Students/Scholars

Returning for Spring 2015:

The following documents are required for re-entry to the U.S.:

1. Valid Passport

2. Valid F-1/J-1 Visa

3. I-20 (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 (for J-1 students/scholars) signed for travel.  Please be advised that the signature on the bottom of page 3 of I-20 (or on the bottom right corner of your DS-2019) is valid for 12 months. If your re-entry date is within 12 months from the last signature, you will be eligible to re-enter on that I-20/DS-2019.  However, if you re-enter after the 12 month time frame, then a new travel signature is required. 

Travel signatures for students on OPT are valid for 6 months. If your re-entry date is within 6 months from the last signature, you will be eligible to re-enter on that I-20.  However, if you re-enter after the 6 month time frame, a new travel signature is required.

If you need a new travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019, you have 2 options:

1. Contact OIS on January 5 regarding FedEx mail options.  This option will require you to FedEx your I-20/DS-2019 to OIS along with the Travel Signature Request Form and include a self-addressed, pre-paid return FedEx envelope so OIS can sign your I-20/DS-2019 and return the form back to you.  Please be advised that FedEx options could take up to 1 week or longer and this option may not be feasible depending on your return date.

2. Enter the U.S. on I-515A. The I-515A is a document issued by the U.S. Port of Entry officer that allows students and scholars to re-enter the U.S. on a temporary status of 30 days.  If you do not have a valid travel signature, you will likely be issued a Form I-515A by the U.S. Port of Entry officer.  Since this is a temporary stay document that only allows 30 days stay in the U.S., it is very important that you meet with an OIS advisor immediately upon arrival to fix your status to F-1 or J-1 D/S. 

**Entering on an I-515A may cause some delays at the Port of Entry**

Applying for F‐1 or J‐1 Visa during Winter Break

If your F‐1 or J‐1 visa has expired, you will need to apply for a new visa for re‐entry. You are urged to check with the U.S. consulate or embassy where you will apply for the visa ( to determine that particular post’s policies and procedures.

For information on waiting times for F‐1 and J‐1 visa appointments at U.S. embassies and consulates, visit the following link:

Due to security checks, the period of Winter Break may not be long enough to receive clearance AND a renewed visa to come back for class on Jan. 13. If you have any problems, please contact OIS when we reopen on January 2 and we will be able to advise you on your options.

Emergency Contact Information during Winter Break

Emergencies at U.S. Port of Entry:  USC Department of Public Safety (DPS) at (213) 740-6000

OIS email account ( will be checked periodically during winter break.  Please note that only inquiries requiring immediate attention will receive a response.