International Travel in J-1 Status
J-1s wishing to travel outside of the U.S. while in J-1 status will need to supply the following documents in order to re-enter the United States:
- a valid passport
- a valid J-1 visa
- a DS-2019 with a current travel signature (i.e. must have been signed within the last 12 months
- Current Students are also encouraged to have a copy of their unofficial transcript.
- Students on Academic Training (AT) should also carry their Academic Training Authorization Letter.
- Scholars employed by W&M are recommended to carry a copy of a recent paycheck stub.
Obtaining a Travel Signature
Travel signatures cover all return travel to the U.S. for a period of 12 months from the date of the signature (i.e. you do not need to get a new signature each time you travel). If you are planning to travel outside the States, in order to re-enter your DS-2019 will need to have been signed for travel by the Reves Center within the last 12 months. Travel signatures are found in the Travel Validation box in the bottom right hand corner of your DS-2019.
If you need a travel signature, complete a Travel Signature Request Form (pdf) and drop it off with your DS-2019 at the Reves Center. Your DS-2019 will be signed and ready for pick-up in 2 business days.
If you have a problem at the U.S. border during regular office hours, please call the Reves Center at (757) 221-3594; outside of regular office hours, contact the W&M Police at (757) 221-4596, and they will be able to contact an International Student Advisor.
Automatic Visa Re-ValidationGenerally, you must have a valid visa to return to the U.S. from abroad. However, there is a special provision called Automatic Visa Revalidation [22 CFR 41.112 (d); 8 CFR 214.1 (b) (1-4)] that applies to travel within the Northern Hemisphere; if you are in J-1 status and your J-1 visa is expired, you may nevertheless return to the U.S. from a trip to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands even with an expired visa, provided that you meet all the following conditions:
- your passport is valid
- you have a valid DS-2019 with a valid travel signature
- you have an expired J-1 visa
- you only go to Canada, Mexico, and/or the Caribbean islands (except Cuba) and do not stay outside the U.S. for more than 30 days
- you do not apply for a new U.S. visa while abroad (otherwise you have to wait for it to be approved and use it to reenter)
- you keep your I-94 card when you depart the U.S. (i.e., don’t give it up)
- you are not a citizen of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, or Cuba
This provision only applies to return travel to the U.S.; you need to check and see if you need a visa to enter the country to which you are going. The best way to do that is to go to the website of the embassy of the country you want to visit.
Note: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are U.S. territories and thus a J-1 student does not need a visa to travel to those locations from within the U.S., or to return to the U.S. from those locations.