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Pre-Entry and Arrival

International Visitor Program

Travel Outside the United States

All exchange visitors and their family members who plan to leave the US, even for a day, must have a valid passport, visa, and endorsed copy of the DS-2019 Form in order to reenter the US in J-1 status.  The Exchange Visitor must send their original DS-2019 to the International Programs Office at least 3 weeks before traveling so that the DS-2019 can be returned to the traveler prior to departure.  If your departure date is sooner than 3 weeks, express mail the document and enclose a pre-paid return express mail envelope or label. The endorsement is valid for 12 months. An additional signature is required for any 12-month period after the initial endorsement.
If an Exchange Visitor requires any adjustments to their SEVIS record and DS-2019, such as a program extension, these should be completed and a new DS-2019 should be issued and signed before the planned travel.

If the J-1 visa and entry stamps are in an expired passport and a new passport has been reissued, exchange visitors will need to carry both passports when traveling.  If the J-1/J-2 visa holder goes home for a vacation, contact the US Embassy/Consulate to request information on the process of acquiring a new stamp/visa in the new passport.

J-1 visa holders and their J-2 dependents can travel independently of one another.  However, a J-1 visa holder cannot leave J-2 dependents alone in the USA for more than 30 days. Doing so will result in both the J-1 principal and J-2 dependents being “out of status” and possible program termination. Exchange Visitors should consult with an IVP Program Specialist in the International Programs Office when requesting travel validation on their DS-2019 forms to make certain traveling outside the US without their dependents will not jeopardize their program status.

Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-2) Status: Form DS-2019
Program Start and End Dates
30-Day Grace Period
Financial Support - Sufficient Funds
2-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement
24-Month Bar
Mandatory Health Insurance
Required Check In and Validation
10-Day Notice of Any Move
Notification of Changes in Program Sites or Activities
Travel Outside the US During Program
Program Progress Reports
Notification of Departure
Dependents (J-2 Visa Holders)
Employment and Taxes

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\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

> If you have any questions, please contact:

  • Brenda Dean , International Visitor Program Coordinator, Responsible Officer, (202) 644-4640,
  • Rima Eid, International Visitor Program Specialist, Alternate Responsible Officer, (202)644-4642,
  • Kristin Corcoran, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4643,
  • Misty Sidhu, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4645,
  • Lee Blaser, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4631,
> Click here and read about latest activities and news of the International Visitor Program.

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