Travel as J-1 Scholar

Initial Travel to the U.S.

You'll need a valid passport and visa along with supporting documentation to enter the U.S. You will also be subject to secondary inspection upon arrival (see Arriving in the U.S. below).

Canadian citizens do not need a visa.

If you have questions about what documents are needed visit the embassy or consulate where you'll apply for your visa.

Travel Within the U.S.

Whenever you travel, even in the U.S., you should carry your original passport, I-94 and any supporting documentation with you.

Arriving in the U.S.

U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security is using secondary inspections to verify SEVIS status.
If you have an I-20 or DS-2019 when you arrive in the U.S. you will be sent to a secondary inspection where immigration officials can confirm that your SEVIS record is active. Secondary inspection will be normal procedure until a new SEVIS verification system is in place.

Expect delays. Allow extra time for connecting flights; current estimates are 1–3 hours to get through Immigration.

Leaving/Re-entering the U.S.

When you depart the U.S. for another country by air, you should leave your I-94 card with the airline agent, unless you're traveling to Canada, Mexico, or the Adjacent Islands. You may retain your I-94 card if you're a Canadian or Mexican citizen and you plan to re-enter the U.S.

You'll need to renew an expired visa before returning to the United States. Details can be found on embassy or consulate websites. Security checks for visa renewals may take several months. If you're planning to travel from the U.S. to Canada or Mexico and your visa has expired, speak with an ISS Specialist before you leave.

If you're traveling from the U.S. to a country other than your home country, you may need to apply for a visa at the embassy of the country you're visiting.

To re-enter the U.S. after a temporary departure, you must have a valid passport and visa and any supporting documentation. You will also be subject to secondary inspection (see Arriving in the U.S. on this page).

If your J-1 visa in your passport is EXPIRED, you will need to bring the following documents to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy as part of your J-visa application:

  • Valid passport (must be valid for at least six months into the future for reentry);
  • Valid Form DS-2019 (be prepared to show the consulate all of your previous DS-2019’s to validate your initial and continuous stay in the U.S.);
    • Travel signature on the Form DS-2019 (obtained from ISSO)
    • signed within the past 6 months
    • for you AND your dependents
  • Your offer letter, invitation letter or a verification of employment from your department; and
  • Current proof of financial support

If your J-1 visa in your passport has NOT EXPIRED, you'll need the following to re-enter the U.S.:

  • Valid passport (must be valid for at least six months into the future for reentry);
  • Valid DS-2019;
    • Travel signature on the DS-2019 (obtained from ISSO)
    • within the past 6 months
    • for you AND your dependents
  • Valid J-1 visa in your passport

Travel to Canada or Mexico:

If you're planning to travel to Canada or Mexico with an expired visa, speak with an ISS Specialist before you leave.

Upon your return to the U.S., give ISSO a copy of your new I-94 (front and back) and a copy of the new J-1 visa in your passport (if applicable).