Planning Your U.S. Stay

Learn information to assist you as you plan for the end of your semester or year-long exchange.

Semester Exchange Students (1 semester)
  • Housing during breaks. All undergraduate halls close after exams (see schedule). W&M does not offer housing during breaks to students not returning the following semester, so if you plan to stay in the U.S. after this time, you will need to make other arrangements. See the Reves website for some short term housing options.
  • Academic Training (AT) for internships. During breaks, some students do internships. If you would like to do an internship, it must relate to your field of study (at least 2 classes you’ve taken at W&M).  For more information, see the Reves website.
  • Grace period after your program ends. If you are only spending one semester at W&M, your DS-2019 should expire at the end of the semester.  Your end date is listed in Section 3 of your DS-2019. You have a 30 day grace period after this end date to legally remain in the U.S. If you leave the U.S., your grace period ends.
  • Travel to Canada or Mexico (or another international destination).
    • Returning to the U.S. If plan to travel internationally after your program end date, and plan to return to the U.S. after your trip, you cannot re-enter the U.S. with your DS-2019 in J-1 status since your grace period ends once you leave the U.S.  To return to the U.S., you must make arrangements for a new short term tourist/visitor immigration status.
      • Visa Waiver program. Students from some countries are eligible for this program.  Before you leave the U.S.:
        • Register online with ESTA:
        • Bring your flight itinerary for your final flight leaving the U.S. The immigration officer at the border may ask to see it.
      • B-2 Visitor visa. Students not eligible for the visa waiver program must apply for a B-2 visitor visa while in the country they are visiting. You cannot apply for a visitor visa while in the U.S. You should make a visa appointment at a U.S. consulate or embassy in the country you will be visiting before you leave the U.S.
Year-Long Exchange Students (2 semesters)
Depending on when you began at W&M as a year-long exchange student, you will have either a winter or summer break when the College largely closes, and you must make plans.
  • International travel. If you plan to travel internationally during a break, you need a valid travel signature on your DS-2019 before you leave the U.S. so that you will be able to return to the U.S. It takes 2 business days for the Reves Center to process this signature. See more information about international travel with additional steps you must take.
  • Housing during breaks.
    • Winter Break.
      • All undergraduate halls except Tribe Square close for winter break (late December to mid January). W&M offers limited winter break housing to international students continuing their studies at W&M in the spring for a flat fee. This is advertised on the international list serv.
      • Campus will be very quiet during winter break, and dining halls will not be open.
      • All campus offices (including the Reves Center) will be closed from around Christmas Eve to New Year's; dates vary by year, so see the holiday schedule for details.
      • Consider short term housing options, or you may also want to consider traveling around the U.S. or abroad.
    • Summer Break.
      • All undergraduate halls except Tribe Square close for summer break (mid May to mid August).
      • Some on-campus housing is available for an additional fee for students enrolled in summer classes or doing research with a professor. This housing is not available all summer, as residence halls close at various times for cleaning. Summer classes are not included in your exchange, and require an additional tuition fee.
      • Campus will be very quiet during summer break, and most dining halls will be closed.
      • Campus offices (including the Reves Center) remain open.
      • Consider short term housing options, or you may also want to consider traveling around the U.S. or abroad.
  • Academic Training (AT) for internships. During breaks, some students do internships. If you would like to do an internship, it must relate to your field of study (at least 2 classes you’ve taken at W&M).  For more information, see the Reves website.
  • Grace period after your program ends. Your DS-2019 should expire at the end of your second semester.  Your end date is listed in Section 3 of your DS-2019. You have a 30 day grace period after this end date to legally remain in the U.S. If you leave the U.S., your grace period ends.
  • Travel to Canada or Mexico (or another international destination).
    • Returning to the U.S. If plan to travel internationally after your program end date, and plan to return to the U.S. after your trip, you cannot re-enter the U.S. with your DS-2019 in J-1 status since your grace period ends once you leave the U.S.  To return to the U.S., you must make arrangements for a new short term tourist/visitor immigration status.
      • Visa Waiver program. Students from some countries are eligible for this program.  Before you leave the U.S.:
        • Register online with ESTA:
        • Bring your flight itinerary for your final flight leaving the U.S. The immigration officer at the border may ask to see it.
      • B-2 Visitor visa. Students not eligible for the visa waiver program must apply for a B-2 visitor visa while in the country they are visiting. You cannot apply for a visitor visa while in the U.S. You should make a visa appointment at a U.S. consulate or embassy in the country you will be visiting before you leave the U.S.

If you have any questions, contact the Reves Center. Best wishes as you plan the rest of your time in the U.S.!