J-1 Scholar/Employee Travel

J-1 Scholar/Employee Travel

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Whether traveling within the U.S. or outside, there are certain considerations you need to make before leaving UMass. While you can make plans to depart at any time, you need to make certain that you have the appropriate documentation to return to the U.S.

Inside the U.S.

NOTE: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has the right to check the 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 if you are near a U.S. border. 

The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) will soon require all air travelers to have a government issued REAL ID to fly within the U.S. If you do not have a REAL ID once required, you will need to use your passport.

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 U.S. 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 for travel; see Requesting a New Travel Signature.
  • 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.

For worldwide advisories, check the Department of State site.

Out of Country Approvals

Scholars occasionally need to leave the U.S. for extended periods of time. The out-of-country authorization allows you to maintain an active record while outside of the U.S. that exceeds 30 days. To be authorized for an absence of more than 30 days, J-1 Scholars must provide documentation showing that they will continue to engage in their program activities while they are away.

J-1 Scholars must still maintain their J-1 status while abroad—including maintaining a U.S. based address, medical coverage inside the U.S., etc. See our Maintaining Status site.

J-1 Scholars can notify the IPO of their plans to be outside of the U.S. for more than 30 days. Note that IPO is not able to submit travel dates to SEVIS retroactively.

Renewing Your Visa Stamp

If the 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. Submit a copy of your new J-1 visa here.

Note: your U.S. immigration status remains valid if you are maintaining proper J-1 status at UMass. A U.S. visa is only necessary for 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.

If you are subject to the 212e Two-Year Home Residency Requirement and have received a waiver from the Department of State and then apply for new visa, the 212e subjectivity may be reapplied.


Anyone planning to depart from the U.S. and return after a temporary absence must have a valid passport 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

You may request a reprint of your DS-2019 signed for travel through our E-Form. You will need to login using your UMass log in credentials sent to you by OIT.

We will digitally sign the DS-2019(s) for international travel and send it to you electronically. You will still need to print and sign your form as the paper document is still required for visa renewal applications and travel to the US. 

Non-U.S. Visas/Immigration

Note: This is for informational purposes only. The IPO cannot advise on non-U.S. visas, immigration statuses, or paperwork.

Schengen Visas

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.

Canadian Visas

If you plan to visit Canada, a visa may or may not be required depending on your citizenship. Review your Canadian visa requirements here.