Monday, April 22, 2013

New Travel Procedures for International Students

This announcement from International Student and Scholar Services addresses changes to OIE travel signature process, new federal regulation related to the I-94 arrival/departure record that effects travel to and from the US and a new tool offered by the US Department of State to check the status of a visa. 

New Process for Travel Signatures 
US Customs and Border Protection requires F and J visa holders to have a signature from an ISSS international student advisor on the form I-20 (pg. 3) or DS-2019 (bottom, right) in order to re-enter the US during their program. Signatures are valid for 12 months and a student can use the signed I-20 or DS-2019 multiple times to re-enter the US while the signature is valid. ISSS international student advisors are able to sign an I-20 or DS-2019 for travel after reviewing the immigration record and academic status of the student, as well as ensuring the student has information to prepare for the travel and visa interview (when applicable). 

We are nearing the end of the semester, when many students travel outside the US. ISSS has instituted a new travel signature e-form in iStart to ensure that advisors have appropriate information to process the travel signature, ensure a timely signature for students traveling, and ensure greater efficiency in managing this common request. With the introduction of this e-form, the OIE front desk will no longer take I-20s or DS-2019s at the front desk for a travel signature. Instead, students should log into iStart and provide relevant details about the upcoming travel in the new ‘Travel Signature Request’ e-form for F-1 students or the ‘Travel Validation Request’ for J-1 students. Travel e-form submissions will be reviewed daily and processed in the order they are received. Students will then be notified via an approval email to bring their I-20 or DS-2019 anytime during walk-in advising hours so an advisor can sign it. Walk-in advising hours are Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 8:30am-11:30am and 1:30pm-4:30pm except during Georgia Tech holidays. 
We hope this new system will cut down on multiple visits to the office and save both you and the OIE time! The best time to submit this e-form is right after a plane ticket is purchased, not days or hours before you travel! Waiting to submit the travel e-form may result in less time than necessary for the ISSS to process your request before your flight. In other words, submit the e-form early! 

I-94 Arrival/Departure record automation & discontinuation of the paper I-94 card 

The federal government has published a new regulation to change the I-94 arrival/departure record from a paper document issued to a foreign visitor entering the US and stamped by the Customs and Border Protection Official (CBP) at the US. Port of Entry to a paperless, automated process. The new law is expected to be implemented starting April 30, 2013. 
With the new automated I-94 process, CBP will gather travelers’ arrival/departure information automatically from their electronic travel records (passport, visa stamp and flight manifest) and in most cases, foreign visitors will no longer complete the paper I-94 arrival/departure card prior to being admitted by a CBP official. CBP officials will stamp the passport of the traveler indicating the date of admission, visa type and authorized period of stay. 

This change will have minimal impact on F and J students and scholars already in the US with a paper I-94 document (white card stapled in the passport). Travelers who have a paper I-94 card are advised to turn it in to the airline official when checking into or boarding an international flight as was customary. 

Initial entry or re-entry to the US after the April 30, 2013 implementation will result in an electronic record of entry that can be accessed by the traveler at . After the traveler enters data about the travel (including date of travel, visa type and port of entry) and passport biographical information, a paper “receipt” can be printed by the traveler to show any state or federal agency that may still require paper evidence (such as the Social Security Administration or Georgia Department of Driver’s Services). The CBP websites below provide additional detail about the new automated process and the OIE will continue to share updates via the ISSS website and iBuzz newsletter as they become available. Should you have any questions or concerns, please visit the OIE during walk-in advising hours or send an email to 

On-line Visa Status Check 

The US. Department of State has implemented a new on-line tool that allows non-immigrant and immigrant visa applicants to check the status of their application. The non-immigrant case number or application ID is required to track the status.