Travel Information for J-1 Exchange Visitors

Travel Information for J-1 Exchange Visitors

To travel outside of the U.S. in J-1 Scholar status, the following documentation is needed:

  • Passport valid for at least six months beyond your entry date to the U.S.
  • J-1 (or J-2) valid visa. (Canadian citizens are visa-exempt.)
  • Original Form DS-2019 with a valid travel endorsement from OIS (no more than 6 months old at the time of travel).
  • I-94 print-out (You will receive a new I-94 record each time you enter the U.S.)
  • Receipt evidencing payment of the SEVIS fee.
  • Documentation of the source and amount of your financial support.
  • Original offer/invitation letter from host NC State academic department.

When leaving the U.S., all J-2 dependent family members should accompany the J-1 principal. (Exceptions are very short trips of a few days only). Generally, all travel should be limited to trips of less than 30 days.

Extended Absence from the US

J-1 Research Scholars or Professors may have a need to travel outside the US for a longer period of time, a period of more than 30 days. This situation sometimes arises due to professional obligations with an employer in the home country. For J-1 Research Scholars or Professors who will be outside the US for more than 30 days and will continue research activities with the supervisor at NC State University, OIS can report this information to keep the J-1 status active while the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor is abroad.

To keep the J-1 status active, OIS must report the following information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS); the start and end date of the travel and the name and the location that the J-1 will be working at while outside the US. This information must be provided by the J-1. In addition the supervisor must send an e-mail to OIS authorizing the proposed leave and confirming that the J-1 will be continuing research while outside the US. This information can be e-mailed to OIS at at least 30 days prior to travel.

The travel authorization can only be processed prior to the departure date. If the J-1 realizes during the out of country period that he/she will be delayed in returning to the US, the J-1 must notify OIS and their NC State supervisor in writing prior to the end date of the current out of country authorization. During the out of country period the J-1 must maintain health insurance for themselves and any J-2 dependents. The J-1 must also continue to update any changes in their contact information (address, e-mail, phone number) to OIS and maintain contact with their supervisor at NC State University.

J-1 Exchange Visitors should follow all travel procedures (explained above) and obtain necessary signatures and visas, as appropriate, well in advance of planned travel.

Travel to Canada and Mexico

Under a benefit called Automatic Visa Revalidation J-1 scholars from most countries may return to the U.S. after short trips of 30 days or less to — and exclusively to — Canada, Mexico and other contiguous island nations (except Cuba). Exchange Visitors will need all other materials indicated above. Currently, Automatic Visa Revalidation is not extended following travel to Cuba, or to citizens of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria. When traveling under the benefit of Automatic Visa Revalidation the Exchange Visitor should not hand over the I-94 card to airline personnel or other-national customs officials. The original I-94 card is proof of original entry and will be used for the Revalidation process. Additionally, the Exchange Visitor must be very mindful that the benefit of Automatic Visa Revalidation only impacts the eligibility for return to the U.S. and is absolutely independent of any visa requirements needed to enter Canada, Mexico, or other contiguous countries. Well prior to travel, the Exchange Visitor should check with the consular posts of the countries to which he or she plans to travel to inquire about visa requirements.

Helpful Links

U.S. Embassies Abroad
U.S. Department of State – Travel and Visas