For initial entry to the US
These documents are needed to enter the US to begin J-1 status:
- DS-2019. Entry to the US must be within the 30-day period immediately preceding the start date indicated in item 3 of the DS-2019
- Passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected stay
- Valid J-1 visa stamp. (Canadian citizens are visa-exempt.) Anticipate delays due to security reviews
- Receipt evidencing payment of the SEVIS fee
- Documentation of the source and amount of financial support
For return to the US
- DS-2019, endorsed for travel by ISO. The travel endorsement is valid up to 12 months, and confirms that the Exchange Visitor is in good status.
- Valid passport.
- Valid J-1 (or J-2) visa. (Canadian citizens are visa-exempt.) If the visa has expired, or the entries permitted by that visa have been used, a new US visa must be obtained prior to return unless eligible for automatic visa revalidation. US consulates worldwide conduct in-person interviews with virtually all visa applicants. Appointments for visa interviews should be scheduled as early as possible and delays should be anticipated due to security reviews. There is no mechanism to obtain, prior to departure, a guarantee of the right to re-enter the US Note that the visa does not need to remain valid while the Exchange Visitor is in the US.
- The previously-issued I-94 card is required when returning to the US after a visit of less than 30 days in Canada, Mexico, or islands in the Caribbean. If returning to the US from overseas, a new I-94 will be issued at the US port of entry.
For initial entry to the US, each J-2 dependent needs his or her own DS-2019, a valid passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected stay, and a valid J-2 visa stamp (Canadian citizens are visa-exempt). J-2 dependents may enter the US at the same time as the J-1, or after the J-1 has arrived in the United States. Dependents who leave the US temporarily follow the “return to the US” procedure described above. J-2 dependents may not remain in the US while the J-1 is outside the US unless the J-1 is gone only a few days.
Automatic revalidation of an expired visa
Under certain circumstances, persons with expired visas are allowed to return to the US without having to obtain new visas. This is known as “automatic visa revalidation.” To qualify, Exchange Visitors must be applying for readmission to the US after a temporary absence of not more than 30 days in Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands except Cuba and have a valid Form I-94, DS-2019, and passport with an expired visa stamp. The visa will be considered ”extended” to the date of re-entry, eliminating the need to obtain a new visa at a US consulate before that particular re-entry. Persons who apply for a new visa while in Canada, Mexico, or islands in the Caribbean are ineligible for automatic visa revalidation. Also, citizens of Iran, Syria, Sudan and Cuba are ineligible for automatic visa revalidation.
Travel to Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands
Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and certain other US territories and possessions are part of the United States. No visa is necessary for travel to or return from those locations. However, Exchange Visitors should carry full documentation (passport, DS-2019, I-94), especially if the travel involves transit through or short stays in other countries where full documentation including a valid visa would be necessary for return to the US
Visiting Canada and other countries
If visiting other countries, an Exchange Visitor should contact the consulate or embassy of the country to be visited to determine what documents are necessary for entry.
Travel during the 30-day “grace period”
The Department of Homeland Security allows all Exchange Visitors 30 days of lawful status in the US following completion of their program. This 30 day “grace period” is NOT included in the program dates listed in item 3 of the DS-2019 form. Exchange Visitors who travel outside the US during the grace period will not be permitted to re-enter the US in J-1 or J-2 status.