Travel Out & Reentry: J-1 Scholars & J-1 Student Interns

In order to return to the United States after a visit abroad, J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents must present:

  • a valid passport (valid six months into the future);
  • a valid J-1/J-2 visa stamped in the passport (certain exceptions apply); and
  • original Form DS-2019 with a travel signature from the program sponsor within the last year.

Most DS-2019 Forms are signed for travel at orientation. Travel signatures are valid for up to one year or until the end of your program, whichever is sooner. If you need a travel signature, please bring your original Form DS-2019 to OGS for a travel signature during walk-in hours.

With limited exceptions, a valid J-1/J-2 visa stamp is required for re-entry to the United States in J-1/J-2 status.  If the entry visa stamp in your passport has expired and you plan to travel outside the United States, you must renew your visa at the U.S. consulate or embassy abroad (new window)Visa stamps are never issued or renewed in the United States. Scholars and student interns should generally allow 2-8 weeks for processing. 

Some scholars and student interns will also be subject to additional administrative processing because of their countries of national origin, citizenship, fields of study, or at the discretion of the Consular Officer. Administrative processing commonly takes 6-8 weeks.

  • The immigration officer should inspect the Form DS-2019 and return it to the scholar or student intern.
  • The immigration officer should inspect the passport with the visa, stamp the passport with J-1 and D/S, and return the passport to the scholar or student intern.

Review the OGS Know Your Rights at the Airport (PDF) handout prior to re-entry to the United States to familiarize yourself with your rights.

After entry, the scholar or student intern should download the I-94 Record (new window) to verify that the entry was properly recorded electronically. A copy of this electronic entry record should be printed for personal records after each entry to the United States.

During entry procedures, scholars and student interns should answer all questions clearly. Omission or misrepresentation of information can result in denial of entry. If you encounter any serious difficulty:

Monday – Friday between 9 am – 5pm: Call OGS at (202) 687-5867

After Hours or Weekend: Call Georgetown University Police Department (GUPD) at (202) 687-4343. GUPD will contact OGS to assist you.

During the 30-day grace period, once a J-1 Exchange Visitor and their J-2 dependents depart the United States (including visits to Canada or Mexico or cruises), they may not reenter the United States in J-1/J-2 status. In order to reenter the United States, they would need a tourist visa or another valid status.

Domestic travel within the United States is unrestricted during the grace period.

Travel to Canada, Mexico and neighboring islands (except Cuba) is handled somewhat differently than travel to other countries.

The automatic visa revalidation provision allows those whose U.S. entry visa has expired to briefly visit Canada, Mexico, Saint Pierre, Miquelon, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French and Netherlands territories or possessions in or bordering the Caribbean Sea, except Cuba, and return to the United States without applying for a new visa at a U.S. consulate. The following rules apply to automatic visa revalidation:

  • The visit must not exceed 30 days and may be spent only in Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands – except Cuba.
  • You must not be a citizen of a country that the Department of State has determined to be a sponsor of terrorism.
  • You must have a valid Form DS-2019 with a valid travel signature in the last year.
  • You must have a valid passport (valid six months into the future).
  • You must have maintained status while in the United States and intend to resume that status when you return to the United States.
  • You must present the most recent I-94 record.

Many scholars and student interns will need tourist visas to enter Canada, Mexico, and neighboring islands. Contact the embassy of the country which you intend to visit and check entry visa requirements before making travel arrangements. You will need a valid travel signature from your IS Advisor (new window) before applying for a visa to enter these countries.

NOTE: Federal regulations prohibit those who have been denied a visa at one of the U.S. consulates in Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands from returning to the United States. Those whose visa applications are denied must return to their home country and apply for a new visa at the U.S. consulate in the home country prior to returning to the United States. If you are interested in more information, please read about applying for a visa and how to make an appointment for a visa interview in Canada or Mexico.

J-1 scholars and student interns must receive advance permission for travel outside the United States of more than 30 days at a time during their J-1 program dates.  The U.S. Department of State may consider a trip of more than 30 days a break in the J-1 program. Please email your IS Advisor (new window) your intended travel dates, the address where you will be and your intended activities (whether you are continuing your J-1 program activities/research while abroad). If it is determined that you are continuing your J-1 program activities, your IS advisor will approve it by doing an “out of country” notification in SEVIS.


Please note that J-2 dependents must accompany the J-1 scholar if the time outside the United States is more than 30 days. 

Please visit the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement Website for additional information on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).