As an exchange visitor, you may want to take advantage of your time in the U.S. and travel before, during or after you complete your program at LR. There are several restrictions and requirements for international students who wish to travel.
You have the benefit of a 30-day grace period following the completion of your program. This is intended to give you time to pack your belongings, travel around the U.S. or make travel arrangements for home.
Note that completion of program, not program end date indicated on the DS-2019, marks the beginning of the 30-day grace period.
Please remember that any transfer to another J program and another J institution must be completed prior to the ending date on your DS-2019 form. Transfers during the grace period are not possible.
If you plan to travel and then return to continue the same program, you must have the director of international education sign the DS-2019. This must be done before you depart.
Students sponsored by International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP) should work with the Shuford Center to get your travel signature done as soon as drop/add is over after the first week of classes.
Insurance Before Traveling
You must provide proof of insurance for you and any J-2 dependents. Insurance requirements are listed on page two of every DS-2019 form.
If you arrive at the port of entry without proper student documents, e.g., you left your DS-2019 in the luggage you checked or you only had a copy rather than the original, the immigration officer will probably give you a form I-515A with instructions to send the original DS-2019 to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) office in Washington, D.C. The officer will only admit you to the U.S. for 30 days. Look at your I-94 and you should see a date, rather than "D/S".
Please see the Shuford Center immediately if you receive the I-515A form, even if you are sponsored by another agency. The Shuford Center will help you send the correct documents to SEVP or direct you to your ISEP immigration officer, if necessary.
Upon entry to the U.S., your entry will be recorded in an electronic database that tracks lawful entries and exits. When you arrive on campus, you will need to print out your I-94 record of your lawful entry.
You must print out the I-94 upon each re-entry to the U.S. each time you exit and reenter. Always save these in printed I-94s with your permanent records. You may need them to complete tax forms and future immigration forms that require every U.S. entry and exit date.
Making Travel Plans
When making travel arrangements, you should ask yourself the following.
- Do I need a new visa?
- How long will it take to get an appointment and be issued the visa?
- Within what timeframe can I change my tickets if I am delayed?
- Do I need a new passport?
- How long will it take for passport processing at home or at a foreign consulate in the U.S.?
- Am I allowing extra time at my port of entry since I am traveling back with items I need to declare in customs?
- Is my DS-2019 still valid for at least a few weeks beyond the date of entry to the U.S. and containing a valid travel signature from the program sponsor?
- Does my layover at my port of entry leave enough time for immigration processing (three to five hours)?
It is always advisable to have a refundable and changeable air ticket if you will be renewing a visa or passport while abroad. Visa delays are always possible.
The visa stamp in your passport must indicate validity for multiple entries and still be valid upon return to the U.S.
If you have received an extension of your program end date, your visa may well have expired. Visas are not always issued for the full length of the program. There is no way to renew a visa in the U.S.
If needed, plan appropriately for visa renewal, visiting the U.S. Department of State website for an overview of the process, visa wait times and specific U.S. consulate's website. Each country has slightly different procedures for scheduling an appointment, paying visa application fees and processing the visa application forms.
You should never use a tourist visa or the visa waiver program to enter the U.S. if you intend to continue their J-program.
If you are traveling to locations other than your home country, you should check to see if the country requires you to apply for a visa.
Renewing Your Visa
To renew your visa and to re-enter the U.S., you will need to have on your person in your carry-on luggage.
- A valid DS-2019 form with an end date in the future
- A passport valid for at least six months
- Documentation of the funding which appears on your DS-2019 form (award letter from a government sponsor, department and/or personal bank statements)
- Evidence of your ties to and intent to return to your country of last permanent residence at the end of your J-program (job offers, assets, immediate family members at home)
- Copies of previously issued DS-2019s and/or I-20s from other programs
For students, it is also helpful to have and present (if asked):
- A current official transcript
- Verification of enrollment in a full course of study
If you have completed your academic training, you should bring a letter listing:
- Where you are currently employed
- End date of your employment
- Your job responsibilities (explained briefly in layman's terms)
- Any faculty with whom you are working collaboratively
- Authorization for the academic training from the Shuford Center
Automatic Visa Revalidation
If your visa has already expired you may still be able to travel to Canada, Mexico and adjacent islands under a program called Automatic Visa Revalidation.
Federal regulations "permits aliens who are traveling in territories contiguous to the mainland U.S. or, in some cases, in adjacent islands and whose visas have expired to re-enter the United States without obtaining a new visa. The alien may do so provided that s/he has been outside the U.S. for not more than 30 days and the alien's I-94 remains valid."
Recently revised regulations also "prohibit... re-entry using an automatically revalidated visa of any alien who has applied for a new visa while outside the United States. "
To use the automatic visa revalidation, you must:
- Have a return ticket for travel back into the U.S. unless crossing at a land border
- Have an expired non-immigrant visa
- Have a valid passport and a valid and signed DS-2019 form.
- Evidence of financial support, which could include a bank statement or an assistantship/scholarship letter
- Not be applying for a visa while traveling (you may apply for a visa or use Automatic Visa Revalidation, but not both)