J-1 Scholar/Employee Travel
Do not leave the United States without the immigration documents required for your return. You must have a valid J-1 entry visa stamp in your passport and a valid DS-2019, signed by an IPO staff member. We are happy to assist with questions about your documents. Visa requirements and immigration regulations are complex and they do change. Consult any IPO advisor or visit us during walk-in advising hours.
Inside the U.S.
NOTE: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has the right to check all documents of any person within 100 miles of the U.S. border. UMass does not fall within this zone but you should carry copies of your documents at all times once off-campus.
Beginning in October 2020, you will need to use your passport to fly within the U.S. unless you have a REAL ID from Massachusetts.
Outside the U.S.
If you plan to leave the U.S. to visit another country, all J-1 Scholars and their dependents must have certain documentation to return to the US. If the J-2 dependent is traveling without the J-1 scholar, the dependent should also carry copies of the J-1 student's documents mentioned below. Please make sure that you carry original documentation upon entering the U.S.
J-1 Scholars and dependents must have:
- Valid Passport
- Valid J-1/J-2 entry visa stamp in your passport
- Valid DS-2019, signed on the front by an IPO staff member. Each travel signature is valid for 1 year and must be renewed if it will expire before re-entry
- Invitation Letter or Offer Letter (recommended but not required)
If your visa stamp has expired or will expire soon, please see below regarding renewing your visa stamp.
If your flight home includes a layover in another country, even if you are not leaving the airport, you may need to apply for a transit visa. Check that countries' consular web site or the airline issuing your ticket for confirmation.
For worldwide advisories, check the Department of State site.
Renewing Your Visa Stamp
If your U.S. visa in your passport has expired or will expire prior to your next re-entry to the U.S., you will need to renew your visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad before you can re-enter the US. There is no option to renew a U.S. visa while inside the U.S. Visit this website for updated visa renewal information and procedures at your nearest U.S. consulate in your home country. In some circumstances, you may also be able to renew your visa in a third country.
Note: your U.S. immigration status remains valid as long as you are maintaining proper J-1 status at UMass. A U.S. visa is only necessary for travel and re-entry to the U.S., but is not necessary if you do not have immediate travel plans! This is the only documentation that can expire while in the U.S. and you still retain your valid J-1 status.
Anyone planning to depart from the U.S. and return after a temporary absence must have a valid passport in order to exit the U.S. The passport must also be valid for a minimum of six months into the future at the time of re-entry to the U.S. Some countries have an agreement with the U.S. that automatically extends passport validity for 6 months, for U.S. entry purposes only.
Automatic Visa Revalidation
For a visit of less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean (except Cuba), you are allowed to re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa. This process is known as Automatic Visa Revalidation.
You will need your:
- Valid Passport
- Most recent Visa Stamp
- Current valid DS-2019 with valid travel signature
Please note if you apply for a J-1 visa in Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean and denied; you will not be able to return to the U.S. using Automatic Revalidation.
Nationals of Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria are not eligible for automatic revalidation of an expired visa. Please consult with the IPO for further details.
Requesting a New Travel Signature
During COVID-19 (starting March 16, 2020): the IPO is closed and cannot accept DS-2019s for signatures. You may request a reprint of your DS-2019 through the DS-2019/I-20 reprint E-Form.The approval emails occasionally go into your Spam/Junk folder. Please check this folder if 2-3 business days have passed and you have not received the approval email yet.
Each travel signature is valid for 1 year during the dates listed in Box 3 of the DS-2019 form. Your travel signture must be renewed if it will expire before your re-entry to the U.S. Check the travel signature date on your most recently issued DS-2019 form.
To request a new travel signature, drop off your DS-2019 at IPO reception (Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm). Processing times are 2-3 business days and you will be notified by email once your document is ready.
Note: This is for informational purposes only. The IPO cannot advise on non-U.S. visas, immigration statuses, or paperwork.
A Schengen visa is a short-term visa that permits travel within specific EU nation states for up to 90 days. More information can be found at the EU’s Schengen Visa.
If you plan to visit Canada, a visa may or may not be required depending on your citizenship. Review your Canadian visa requirements here.