Travel Outside the United States

You may have plans to travel outside the country during your J-1 scholar program. You may want to speak at a convention, for example, or visit your family.

Follow the tips below to ensure a smooth trip. These requirements and recommendations apply to all travel outside the United States, including trips to Canada, Mexico, and nearby islands such as Jamaica or the Bahamas.

Get a Travel Signature

You and any J-2 dependents must have a valid travel signature on your Form DS-2019 to re-enter the United States.

Stop by the OIA to request a travel signature at least two weeks before you travel. Your IUPUI department must approve your request to travel. Then you will receive an email from OIA with further instructions.

If J-2 dependents will travel with you, their DS-2019 forms must also be signed. If J-2 dependents will not travel with you, and you will be outside the country for more than 30 days, please contact us for advising.

Check Your Documents

Check your passport, visa, and DS-2019 to ensure that they will not expire while you are outside the country. If your passport will expire within six months, we recommend renewing it.

Once you have returned to the U.S., be sure to check your I-94 information. It’s important that this information is accurate! Insure that your status was marked with ‘D/S’ on your re-entry. If not please contact the OIA immediately for assistance.

Request a Visitor’s Visa, If Necessary

If you are traveling to a country other than your home country, or travelling through a particular country enroute to your home country, you may need a visitor’s visa or a transit visa. To find out, visit that country’s embassy website and search for visa information for non-immigrants.

Plan for Additional Wait Times

If your visa expires or is only valid for a limited number of uses, you may need a new J-1 visa stamp to return to the United States. This process can take six weeks or more because of security clearances. When you make travel arrangements, you and your department should plan for the possibility of these wait times.

Travel to or through Canada

There are new requirements for travelling to or through Canada.  Some travelers may not need a visa but need Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter or transit Canada.  Go to this page to see if you need an eTA or a visitor visa to enter Canada:  http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp You should plan that you will need one or the other.

Short trips to Mexico, Canada, or islands adjacent to the United States (such as the Bahamas)

You may be eligible to return from Mexico, Canada and islands adjacent to the United States even if you have an expired visa. This is generally allowable for trips of 30 days or less. It is essential that you read all eligibility criteria on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement website before you decide to use this exception. You may also refer to the information you received during orientation on this subject.

Don’t forget, you need a travel signature on your DS2019 even for short trips to nearby countries!

Travel After Completing your Program?

OIA cannot sign your DS-2019 for travel during your post-program grace period, and you cannot re-enter in J-1 status if you depart the United States during your 30 day grace period.