Students walking to College Hall amidst flowery tree.

Travel Outside the United States in J-1 Status

Are you eligible to travel and return to the U.S.?

  • You must be in valid J-1 status. If you are a student and depart during the fall or spring semester, you must be registered for a full-time course load and speak with your professors if your travel will cause you to miss class.
  • You must have a valid J-1 visa to return to the U.S. If you changed your status to J-1 while inside the U.S., you will need to apply for a J-1 visa in your home country the first time you depart the U.S.
  • You must be outside of the U.S. for less than five months. If you are a student planning to take an academic leave of absence for one or more semesters, please contact your International Admissions and Immigration Counselor for assistance.

You will need the following:

  • 1st page of your DS-2019 signed for travel by an International Admissions and Immigration Counselor in the Office of International Engagement within the last year. Submit a request for a Travel Signature.
  • Valid J-1 visa, which must also be valid beyond the date you plan to return to the U.S.
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months into the future from the date you will return to the U.S. (unless the country from which your passport was issued is listed here under Countries That Extend Passport Validity for an Additional Six Months After Expiration, in which case the country extends passport validity for an additional six months after the passport’s expiration date, so you may use your passport to enter the U.S. as long as it is unexpired)
  • I-94 card or Print-Out of Electronic I-94. You can get the print-out of your electronic I-94 here: cbp.gov/i94. If you have a paper card, it must be turned in at the airport as you leave the U.S. and are going through Customs unless you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, or the contiguous territories; if this is the case, please see the below section entitled, “Reentering the U.S. with Automatic Visa Revalidation.”
  • Students: Academic transcripts and documentation of your financial support are also highly recommended.
  • Scholars: You must carry a copy of your invitation letter or employment offer letter from Montclair State. Documentation of your financial support is highly recommended.

Travel on Academic Training

In addition to the documents listed above you will need the following:

  • Offer letter/employment letter (this should be on letterhead with your employer’s signature) and other proof of employment (like pay stubs), if available.
  • DS-2019 with valid Academic Training

When Travel outside the U.S. Is Not Advisable

  • If you are in the process of applying for reinstatement to J-1 status
  • If you have a pending Change of Status application
  • If you plan to be absent for five months or longer; J-1 students and scholars are not able to maintain J-1 status if they are outside the U.S. for a period of five months or more.
  • If your employer has filed an H-1B petition or petition for Lawful Permanent Residence with USCIS on your behalf. Please consult your company’s immigration attorney about travel in this situation.

Reentering the U.S. with Automatic Visa Revalidation

Automatic Revalidation allows certain F, J, and H status holders to depart the U.S. and re-enter with an expired nonimmigrant visa stamp in their valid passport after visiting Canada, Mexico or the “adjacent islands” for less than 30 days. The policies and regulations regarding Automatic Visa Revalidation from the Department of State should be reviewed carefully before you travel; it is also highly recommended that you print out a copy of the Department of State’s guidance to carry with you when you travel.

According to the Department of State, a nonimmigrant who otherwise meets the requirements is NOT eligible for Automatic Visa Revalidation is if s/he:

  • Applied for a new visa which has not yet been issued;
  • Applied for a new visa and was denied;
  • Has been outside of the United States for more than thirty days;
  • Has traveled to a country other than Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island which is not included in the automatic revalidation provisions;
  • Is a national of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designated country, including Iran, Syria, and Sudan. Review more about State Sponsors of Terrorism.
  • Is in possession of an F student visa or J exchange visitor visa and has traveled to Cuba;
  • Is in possession of an M student visa and has traveled to a location outside the United States, other than Canada and Mexico.

You must have the following documents to re-enter the U.S. using Automatic Visa Revalidation:

  • Form I-94 or Print-Out of Electronic I-94. Get the printout of your electronic I-94. If you have a paper I-94 card (the white card in your passport), you must be sure that the Customs officer/airline attendant does not take your I-94 upon your departure from the U.S. If you have an electronic I-94 and plan to depart the U.S. by plane but reenter by land, you should be sure that the Customs officer gives you a new I-94 number when you reenter the U.S.
  • Immigration Documents/Other Documentation: You will need all of the documents listed above except the valid visa; however, if you have renewed your passport and the expired visa is in your old passport, you must carry the passport that contains your expired visa.

Travel to Canada

Citizens of certain countries must have a visa to enter Canada. To find out if you need a visa and to obtain visa application instructions, please refer to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). You may also visit the page for the Canadian Consulate in NYC.

Travel to Mexico

Citizens of certain countries must have a visa to enter Mexico; these may be obtained at the Mexican Consulate. For a list of required documents, please refer to the Mexican Consulate in NYC.