Travel as J-1 Student

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 confirm your valid initial and continuous stay in the U.S.);
  • Travel signature within the past 6 months on the Form DS-2019 for you AND your dependents
    • Travel signatures can be obtained from an ISS Specialist in the ISSO (the travel signature and date are located on the lower right corner of the DS-2019);
  • 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 will need to take the following documents to return to the United States:

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

Travel Signatures

When traveling outside the U.S., all J visa holders will need a valid travel signature on thier I-20, found on the second page of the DS-2019. Travel signatures are valid for 6 months. To get a signature, come to the ISSO during business hours and give it to staff at the front desk. When the travel signature is finished, the J visa holder will be emailed to pick up the DS-2019 with a photo ID.

Travel to Canada or Mexico:
If you are planning to travel to Canada or Mexico with an expired visa, please speak with an ISS Specialist.

***** Upon re-entry to the United States, please 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).