Preparing to Travel Internationally

Before departing the United States for your international travel, be sure to follow these steps to prepare for your return and minimize the chance of delays or difficulties at a U.S. port of entry:

  • Request a travel signature on your I20 or DS-2019
    • Continuing international students in F-1 or J-1 status must have their I-20 or DS-2019 endorsed for travel if you are returning to your studies at Rutgers after your trip abroad. Each travel signature is valid for one year. New incoming students or students who have completed their studies and will not return to Rutgers do not need a travel signature.
    • Students on post-completion, STEM OPT or Academic Training must also have their I-20 or DS-2019 endorsed for travel if returning to resume employment after a brief trip abroad. During post-completion or STEM OPT, each travel signature is valid for six months.  
    • To request a travel signature visit Rutgers Global–International Student and Scholar Services at 180 College Avenue during walk in hours to have your I-20 or DS-2019 signed on the spot. If you are already abroad, and need an updated travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019, please contact an international student adviser at least one month before you plan to return.  If you are currently on OPT and unable to visit the international student and scholar services office, please contact an international student adviser at least one month before your planned travel to request that reprint of your I-20 with travel signature is mailed to you. 
  • Check that your passport, visa and I20 or DS-2019 are valid and up to date
    • At the time of entry to the United States, your passport must be valid for six months beyond the period of your intended stay (i.e. program end date on your I-20 or DS-2019), unless your country is exempted from this requirement.
  • Review visa application information if you need to apply for a new visa before returning
  • Check visa requirements and entry procedures for the country you are traveling to, if you are not visiting your home country, and ensure you have required documentation before departing the United States.
  • Review information about preparing to enter the United States and gather all recommended documents
  • Review our Deadline and Alerts page for updated travel alerts, especially regarding presidential executive orders impacting travel
  • If you need emergency help at an airport or other U.S. point of entry, call the Rutgers Global–International Student and Scholar Services during office hours (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.)
    • Rutgers–New Brunswick and RBHS (New Brunswick) Students: 848-932-7015
    • Rutgers–RBHS (Newark) Students: 973-972-6138
  • To reach our staff outside of business hours, call Rutgers Police at 732-932-7211 (New Brunswick) or 973-972-4491 (RBHS Newark).
  • Please keep these contact details on a printed piece of paper. You may not have access to your phone if you are sent to a secondary inspection area.

If you will be conducting research outside of the United States or participating in a study abroad program, please visit our Doing Research or Study Abroad page for more information.

We understand emergencies happen and situations may arise that require you to take an unplanned break from campus or from your academic work. If an emergency requires you to travel outside of the United States, contact an academic dean or your graduate program director and an international student adviser about the situation before leaving the United States. Visit our Leave of Absence or Withdrawal and Returning to Rutgers pages to find out how this may impact your legal status and how to prepare for your return.