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Travel Emergencies: General Information

If you are an international student, scholar or employee and are facing a travel emergency, please read through the information below. Depending on your individual situation and the nature of the emergency, different steps may be required.

Emergency Travel Situations

Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 is Lost or Missing or Does Not Have Valid Travel Signature

In order to return to the US as an F-1 international student or as a J-1 exchange visitor, you must present (in addition to your passport and a valid F-1 or J-1 entry visa) a valid Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 that has a travel signature from an International Center advisor. Travel signatures can be found in the Travel Endorsement section on Page 2 for Form I-20, and in the bottom right-hand corner of Page 1 for Form DS-2019.

Travel signatures are valid for up to one year for currently enrolled F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors, or until the I-20 or DS-2019 has expired, whichever comes first. For F-1 students on post-completion Optional Practical Training, travel signatures are valid for only six months.

If your I-20 or DS-2019 is missing or lost, or if it lacks a valid or up-to-date travel signature, you can request a replacement I-20 to be sent to you. If there is not enough time for a replacement I-20 to be sent to you, read the instructions below regarding "Form I-515A".

Obtaining a Replacement I-20/DS-2019 or Travel Signature from Overseas

If you are outside the US and discover your Form I-20 (or DS-2019) has been lost, or that your document is missing an updated travel signature, you can request a new I-20 or DS-2019 with an updated travel signature from the International Center. To request a replacement form with an updated travel signature,

  • Submit an online request for a Travel Signature through our Travel Signatures page
  • If there is sufficient time, the International Center will send you an updated I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature.
    • For F-1 students, I-20s may now be delivered to you electronically. Once you receive the electronic I-20, print it out and sign it at the bottom of page 1.
    • For J-1 students and scholars, you must request express mail delivery of your new DS-2019.  Follow the express mail instructions on this web site.
  • If there is not sufficient time before your expected return date, please read the information below about "Form I-515A"

Form I-515A: 30 Day Admission into US

In certain circumstances, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may choose to allow you to enter the US as an F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor, even if you are missing your Form I-20 or DS-2019, or if your I-20/DS-2019 does not have a valid travel signature. In these cases, you may ask the CBP officer to issue Form I-515A to you, which will allow you to enter the US for a period of thirty (30) days. During this 30-day period, you must submit additional evidence to the US Department of Homeland Security. Report to an International Center location immediately following your return to Tufts so that we can assist you in having the 30-day limitation removed. Failure to respond within the 30-day period may lead to your losing your status and being found unlawfully present in the US.

If you are outside the US and discover that your passport or visa is expired, or that your passport is lost or stolen, you will need to delay your return date.

You must have an unexpired passport and valid entry visa in order to return to the US. If you have lost your passport, you must contact your home country government for a replacement passport. If you do not have a valid visa, you must apply for a new one at the US consulate nearest you. (Exception: citizens of Canada are not required to have visas to enter the US, but should have a valid passport and Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 to enter in F-1 or J-1 status).


If you need to depart the US due to an emergency in your home country, and are unable to come to the International Center in person before you need to leave, take these steps:

  1. Notify the International Center by email at Provide your full name, Tufts ID number, and a description of your travel plans and the expected duration of your absence (departure and return date) from the US.
  2. Contact your academic or department advisor (for students) or department host or supervisor (for employees) to let them know about your emergency travel needs and expected return date.

Once this information is received, a member of the International Center staff will review your case and respond to you regarding your travel situation. Please continue to monitor your Tufts email account, if possible, for instructions and updates.

When you arrive in the US you will undergo immigration inspection by a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. However, you may experience difficulties or delays upon entering the US due to a variety of factors outside of your control. The International Center recommends that if possible, you organize your travel plans to time your arrival in the US during the Center's regular business hours (Mondays - Fridays, 9am - 5pm). If you are required to undergo additional inspection at a port of entry, you can request that a Customs and Borders Patrol Officer call the International Center at 617-627-3458.

After-Hours Assistance

If you encounter immigration problems upon arriving in the US, and are traveling outside of regular business hours, call the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) at 617-627-3030.