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Office of International Studies and Programs

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Phone: +1-509-963-3612
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Central Washington University
Office of International Studies and Programs
Hebeler Hall 102
400 E. University Way
Ellensburg, WA 98926-7408


Before you travel make sure your I-20 reflects your current situation. If there have been any changes in your situation (for example, if you have changed your major, or source(s) of financial support) that are not indicated on your current I-20, you will need to get a new one. You can contact about any changes on your I-20 that need to be made.

Travel Signature

If you leave the U.S. and plan to return to CWU to resume your program of study, you will need to have a signature from one of the five immigration designated school officials (DSOs) at CWU in order to re-enter the U.S. A travel endorsement (signature) which is found on page 2 of your I-20 is good for 12 months, or until the completion of your program, whichever comes first. However, it is strongly advised that you obtain a signature every six to eight months when traveling outside the U.S. and expect to re-enter.

If you are on Optional Practical Training (OPT) your travel signature will only be valid for 6 months from the date of signature.

It is your responsibility to obtain a signature from one of the DSOs at CWU. You can reach out through email to request a travel signature:

Travel during COVID-19

Before you leave the U.S., please research your travel plans as many restrictions have been put in place due to the pandemic and you may not be able to return to U.S. per your desired plans. Various countries still have testing requirements, limitations on flight options, and/or quarantine requirements.

You can check the CDC’s website for the latest COVID-19 travel restrictions for the U.S., paying close attention to the ‘Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the U.S.’ list.

F-1 Visa Stamp

The F-1 visa stamp enables you to request to enter the U.S. Your visa stamp can expire while you are in the U.S., as it is your I-20 document that gives you legal authorization to remain in the U.S. However, if your visa stamp has expired, and you leave the U.S., you will need to apply to renew your F-1 visa before re-entering the U.S.

If you renew your passport, and your F-1 visa stamp is in your old passport, you can still use the visa in your old passport, as long as the visa has not expired. In this case, you would need to travel with both your old and new passports.


You should not let your passport expire while you are outside of your home country. Most consulates and embassies in the U.S. can help you renew your passport from within the U.S., but please reach out to our office first.

Travel while on OPT

We do not recommend traveling outside of the U.S. while USCIS is processing your OPT application. Once your OPT is approved and you have received your EAD card, you may travel outside the U.S., but will need the following documents to re-enter the U.S.:

  • I-20
  • Valid Travel Signature. Travel Signatures are valid for only 6 months from the date of signature while you are on OPT.
  • Passport
  • F-1 visa
  • EAD (OPT) card
  • (Supplemental) Job offer letter from current employer

Travel during the 60-day Grace Period

Once you have completed your program of study and if you do not intend to continue studies either at CWU or at another U.S. institution, you may travel within the U.S. during the 60-day grace period. You must depart the U.S. by the end of this 60-day period.

However, if you travel outside the U.S. during your grace period, and have no pending (OPT or change of status) applications submitted to USCIS, once you leave the U.S. you forfeit the remainder of your grace period.

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