Missing a valid travel signature or I-20/DS-2019?

Please note that these instructions only apply to individuals in F or J status.


Did you forget to obtain a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 before departing the US? Or are you unable to locate your I-20 or DS-2019?

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions below for instructions regarding what to do if you are missing a travel signature or if you do not have your I-20/DS-2019.

Can I enter the US using a tourist visa? 

Please do not attempt to enter the US as a tourist. US immigration law prohibits taking classes while on B or Visa Waiver (aka ESTA).  Doing so will have immediate and long-term negative consequences.  Also, changing immigration status within the US normally takes 8-12 months, and during the application pending period, enrolling in courses is not permitted. 

If I do not have my I-20 or DS-2019 with me, will I be able to re-enter the US?

If you do not have your I-20 or DS-2019, it is possible that your airline will not let you board a US-bound airplane.   If possible, ISSS recommends that you change your flight schedule so that you will have your original I-20 or DS-2019 as you board your US-bound flight. You can request a replacement document via ISSS Link. You may also arrange to have the documents shipped to you, at your own expense, by creating a shipping request in eShipGlobal. Instructions can be found here.

What will happen if I try to enter the US without a valid travel signature?

If your airline allows you board the plane without a valid signature, there could be three (3) possible outcomes at the US airport upon arrival:

  • The immigration inspector might just rely on your electronic SEVIS record in their system and admit you into the US for “D/S” which means a full duration of status/studies.
  • The immigration inspector might admit you for 30 days under the I-515A temporary admission provision. 
    • If this happens, please come and meet with you ISSS advisor immediately (within two business days) as this is time-sensitive.  After the winter recess, ISSS will reopen on January 2nd
  • The immigration inspector might not let you enter the US. 

Can ISSS send me a digital copy of my I-20/DS-2019?

The US government doesn’t permit distributing/sharing copies (scanned, faxed, emailed, etc.) of immigration documents.  That is against the US federal law.  We can only share a copy with the US Department of State and Department of Homeland Security.  So, if an airport in your home country has a DHS office (as some international airports do), a US DHS officer could request a copy of your I-20/DS-2019 from ISSS.   

What should I do if I experience difficulties when going through US Customs?

Should you encounter any difficulties at the airport, please calmly ask an immigration officer to call Emory ISSS at 404-727-3300 (during business hours) or 404-727-6111 (outside of business hours).  The latter number is available 24/7 as it connects to Emory Police, and they know how to reach an ISSS on-call person.

As we have shared with you previously, Emory University including ISSS is closed until Wednesday, January 2, 2019. If you experience an emergency during this time, please refer to ISSS' emergency protocol.