When an EV departs and when s/he returns, the I-94 Form (Arrival/Departure Record) will automatically be updated in the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol database. Before departing, they should check to see that have obtained the necessary visas and transit visas for all countries of destination. They should also check to see they have all the proper documents to be re-admitted to the United States with correct visa classification and immigration status. These include a valid passport, J-1 visa, DS-2019 and copies of their invitation letter or other program materials. After entering, the Visitor should go to www.cbp.gov\i94, print their I-94 Form, and send it to their IVP Program Specialist.
J-1 exchange visitors should take copies of invitation/appointment letters and other supporting documentation about their programs with them when exiting the country with the intention of returning. This may help when attempting to re-enter the US.
Temporary Admission by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services with Form I-515
If the DS-2019 is lost, not stamped, not signed or not endorsed for travel outside the US, or if there is any other problem when presenting it at the port of entry, the immigration officer will determine if you have a valid J-1 visa stamp and are qualified in all other respects for admission as an Exchange Visitor. The officer may then admit you to the United States in Exchange Visitor status for a period of 30 days and issue Form I-515 (Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor). There is no guarantee that the officer will temporarily admit you to the United States if you do not have your DS-2019. You may be required to leave the United States without being admitted. You must inform the IVP Specialist about this notice as soon as you return to your program site. Those issued a Form I-515 must go to a local United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office and present updated documents and a fee during the 30-day period. An IVP Specialist will assist in helping you with your documentation and give you instructions on contacting the appropriate office for your appointment.
Travel to Canada, Mexico or Adjacent Islands
If J-1 visa holders travel to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands (except Cuba) for less than 30 days, they may be eligible for an automatic extension of their visas. Upon exiting, the EV must have a valid passport and endorsed (signed for travel) DS-2019 Form. If the US Visa in the passport has expired and the EV is only planning to travel to one of these countries, an EV may be able to return to the US in J-1 status without obtaining a new visa. Contact the Mexican Consulate or Consulate General of Canada prior to traveling to check policies and procedures. Citizens of some countries may require a visa to enter Mexico or Canada. Please be cautious when driving to Canada or Mexico by car. Be very aware of where the border zone begins. Crossing this line will automatically require you to present immigration documents for departure, entry or re-entry.
Travel within the United States
Once an exchange visitor has entered the US with the proper visa and has a stamped DS-2019 to verify status, s/he may travel within the US without restriction. Exchange visitors may also travel to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and other US territories. EVs should still carry all documentation to prove immigration status. It is very wise to leave a copy of travel plans and an itinerary with your host advisor, a trusted friend and/or relatives. Leaving photocopies of your important documents in a safe place, in care of a trusted friend or relative can also assist in the event your documents are lost or stolen.
Next Program Regulation: Program Progress Reports