When traveling within the United States, J-1 scholars and their J-2 accompanying dependents should carry their immigration documents with them. Whenever traveling outside the U.S., J-1 scholars and their dependents should carry the following documents for presentation at a U.S. Consulate abroad and/or to the Customs and Border Protection officers when re-entering the U.S.:
- Passport valid for at least six months into the future on the date of re-entry
- Valid Form DS-2019 (signed for travel by an ISSS advisor within the last 12 months).
- Valid J-1 U.S. visa stamp. See the visa stamp handout for suggestions on documentation for the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy.
- Proof of medical repatriation and evacuation insurance that meets the minimum requirements of the J-1 regulations.
- Financial information to document the funding indicated in item #5 on their Form DS-2019 and a letter from the department verifying the J-1 exchange visitor is conducting research as a scholar.
- J-2 visa holders should carry the same documents listed above, as well as a marriage certificate and/or birth certificates of children. All J-2 visa holders must have their own DS-2019 that has been signed for travel by an ISSS advisor within the last 12 months.
WARNING: Due to heightened security, visa approvals with new security checks are conducted for all applicants worldwide. So scholars and their dependents who are applying for a visa stamp should plan for adequate time to get their visa stamp. All documentation submitted to a consular or immigration officer is receiving greater scrutiny, so applicants should review and know the contents of all of their documents before presenting them to the U.S. official. For more information, see the US Embassy’s website or check visa wait times.
Length of time abroad
The Department of State has stated that for J program purposes, the J-1 principal remains in valid “program status” during a short absence abroad. DOS has indicated that they consider an absence from the U.S. of more than 30 days as a break in program status. Absences of longer than 30 days must be approved in writing by an ISSS advisor prior to departure. Since J-2 dependent status is connected to the J-1 visitor, J-2 dependents may not remain in the U.S. while the J-1 visitor is absent from the U.S. for a period of over 30 days. Any J-1 absence of more than 30 days requires the prior written approval of an ISSS advisor.
Scholars already in J-1 status who are applying for an extension of their J-1 visa stamp are not required to pay the SEVIS fee. For further questions on the SEVIS fee, contact an advisor at ISSS. J-2 Dependents are not required to pay the SEVIS fee.
Students or Scholars in F-1 or J-1 status and their dependents who are travelling to contiguous territories (Canada or Mexico) or adjacent islands of the U.S (Bermuda and most of the islands of the Caribbean except Cuba) are permitted to apply for re-entry to the U.S. with an expired visa stamp as long as they are within the guidelines listed on the Customs and Border Protection website.