You must have a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 to return to the U.S. after travel abroad. Each signature is valid for one calendar year.
Caltech Students should contact International Student Programs.
Scholars at Caltech should contact International Scholar Services.
Scholars at JPL should contact the JPL International Office.
Due to COVID-19, your international advisor may electronically sign and send Forms I-20 via email. Forms I-20 issued electronically or with electronic signatures—as permitted during the COVID-19 emergency—will remain valid until students have a need for an updated Form I-20. An electronic or digital travel signature will be valid for the same duration as an ink signature (12 months for F students and six months for F-1 OPT + STEM OPT).
Regular procedures for before and after the pandemic: If you were unable to obtain a travel signature before your departure, please know that you will still be allowed to return to the United States, providing you have a valid passport, a valid and appropriate visa, and that the end date has not passed on your I-20 or DS-2019. If you do not have a valid travel signature, the immigration official may ask you to go through "secondary inspection" and/or may give you Form I-515 to be completed and returned to the appropriate immigration office. Please consult your international advisor if you are given an I-515. While this is an inconvenience, it is not a disaster. You may miss your connecting flight, but you will still be permitted to enter the United States. Alternatively, if you did not obtain a signature before you left the United States and if you will be outside the country for a period of time, we may be able to re-print your I-20 or DS-2019, sign it, and send you the new document.