Travel and Re-Entry to the U.S.

Travel and Re-Entry to the U.S.

To re-enter the U.S. after a temporary absence you must carry the following documents

  • Valid and updated I-20 or DS-2019 with travel endorsement (also known as a travel signature) from ISSO staff within last year (6 months while on OPT)
  • Valid passport (at least 6 months into the future)
  • Valid U.S. visa* (some exceptions may apply for travel to Canada or Mexico)
  • Current proof of financial support
  • Unofficial transcript
  • OPT & STEM OPT students must have their EAD and employment verification letter from their employer
  • Make sure that you are in lawful immigration status and eligible to return to the U.S.
  • Upon your re-entry to the U.S. you can print your I-94 here
Possible questions at port of entry
  • Answer honestly regarding drug and alcohol offenses - If you have been arrested, this information is available to visa and port of entry officers. You are advised to be honest if asked questions and to be aware that visas can be revoked for those arrested for DUI (driving while under the influence of alcohol) and other offenses.
  • CBP may ask to see your phone - Remember that Customs and Border Protection has the right to search passengers’ electronic devices if they choose to. If you are asked to turn in your electronic devices, please behave respectfully and cooperate with the authorities.

Renewing your F-1 or J-1 Visa

Note: If your F1/J1 visa has expired or if you’ve changed your status within the U.S., you will need to apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate outside the United States.  At your interview, you will need to provide all of the information above as well as a letter of enrollment, which can be obtained online. If you have any questions, please ask in the ISSO prior to your departure.

Videos from U.S. Consulates/Embassies regarding the visa application process:

Traveling within the U.S.

If you are traveling inside the U.S., you should carry the following documents (or copies of these documents):
  • Passport
  • I-94 (Can be accessed here)
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • EAD card if on OPT

For F-1 students currently on OPT or STEM OPT

If you are on OPT or STEM OPT and it’s been 6 months since the last time your I-20 was signed on page 2, you must obtain a travel endorsement before travling outisde the U.S. Download the I-20 Travel Endorsement Request Form listed below to accompany your I-20.

How to Obtain a Travel Endorsement While We are Operating Remotely

During this time of modified operations in response to COVID-19, please submit an I-20 Reprint Request if you need a travel endorsement.


This service is only available while the university is closed and the ISSO is operating remotely.

  • We will go back to standard procedures to request a travel endorsement  when UNC Charlotte resumes normal operations.

  • A signed scanned copy of your I-20 will be uploaded into your portale. You should be able to print the I-20 and use it for travel purposes.

How to Obtain a Travel Endorsement During Normal Operations

You may choose either of the following options to receive a travel signature:
  • Option 1: Ship your I-20 to the ISSO at the address below:
International Student and Scholar Office - CHHS 202
9201 University City Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28223
  • Option 2: Send your I-20 to our office or bring it yourself. 
In either of the above options, you must include the printed and filled I-20 Travel Endorsement Request Form

ISSO’s Service

In return, the ISSO will check your SEVIS record, sign the I-20, and then return the I-20 to you based upon the method you indicated on the I-20 Travel Endorsement Request Form.

Need to ship a travel-signed I-20/DS-2019? Click here to create your shipping order

A 2 to 3 business day processing time will apply to any of the above options once your I-20 has been received by the ISSO.

The ISSO will only sign the ORIGINAL copy of the I-20. We WILL NOT sign copies or scans.