Immigration Important Travel Requirements and Reminders from ISSS

May 6, 2021
By International Student and Scholar Services

As we enter the summer season, ISSS would like to provide information and reminders about travel outside of the United States to all members of the Penn international community. Due to the continued unpredictability of COVID-19’s impact on travel, we urge those currently in the United States to think carefully about international travel. International travelers coming into the U.S. may face additional difficulties during this time due to visa delays and COVID-related travel restrictions.
If you plan to travel, please consider the following:

Do you have all documents required for reentry into the U.S.?

See all required documents under your immigration status at

Will your visa be valid upon reentry? 

If your visa has expired and you will need to apply for a new visa to return to the U.S., ISSS does not recommend international travel at this time. Although visa services have resumed in many places, continued processing is subject to change based on safety concerns caused by the resurgence of COVID-19. Therefore, we do not recommend international travel at this time if a new visa is required for reentry.  

For all F-1 and J-1 students and scholars: Do you have a valid travel signature from ISSS on your I-20 (page 2) or DS-2019?

You can request a travel signature by submitting the Travel Signature Request e-form in iPenn. ISSS will email your signed electronic I-20 to you. If you are requesting an updated DS-2019, you must also fill out the Document Shipping Request e-form to have your document mailed to you.

Travel Restriction Updates

Restrictions due to COVID-19

Travel restrictions remain in place for travelers who were physically present within the following countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States: China, Iran, South Africa, the European Schengen area, Ireland and the United Kingdom, India, and Brazil. This list is subject to change and additional countries could be added at any time.

Certain students, scholars and staff may be eligible to receive exceptions to the travel restrictions listed above. As of April 30, 2021, the National Interest Exception (NIE) previously in place for certain travelers from the European Schengen area, Ireland, and the United Kingdom is extended to travelers from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, and India. Eligibility for an exception and the procedure for requesting one varies based on factors such as country, visa type, and program start date.

Please refer to the following NAFSA resource page for a detailed explanation of the newly expanded NIE and its implications for new and continuing students, scholars, and staff:

Restrictions due to previous travel bans

On January 20, 2021, President Biden revoked travel restrictions previously in effect for citizens of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, Somalia, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Myanmar, Sudan, and Tanzania. Please refer to the following NAFSA resource page for travel bans:

If you have any questions or concerns after reading the provided information, please contact your ISSS Advisor by email (see iPenn for your advisor’s name and contact information).