Travel Within the US
Travel within the United States is not restricted for J-1 exchange visitors, and no special documents are required. However, each time that you travel within the US, you are required to fill out the J-1 In Country Travel Form (PDF) and submit it to CGH.
In addition, it is extremely important that you and your dependents carry your passport and visa documents (including DS-2019, I-94 card) with you when traveling in the US in the event you need to present them to law enforcement officials.
Travel Outside of the US
Before being permitted to travel outside of the US, you must complete the J-1 Out of Country Travel Form (PDF) and submit it to CGH. You must also make an appointment with an RO/ARO to have your DS-2019 form authorized for travel (also known as a travel signature). Travel authorization signatures are good for one year. If you have dependents that will also be traveling, they will require travel authorization signatures on their DS-2019s. Even if you already have a valid travel signature on your Form DS-2019, you must submit the Out of Country travel form each time that you travel.
You must also have a passport that is valid for at least six months into the future. If your passport is expired or close to expiring, you should renew it before you travel. Contact your home country’s consulate or embassy in the US to find out how to extend or replace your current passport.
You must have the following documents with you (not in your luggage) when you reenter the US:
- Valid passport
- Valid J-1 entry visa
If your J-1 visa has expired (or if you do not have a J-1 visa in your passport), you must apply for a J-1 visa at a US consulate outside the US before you return. It is not possible to renew your visa from within the US. Please take into consideration the time associated with applying for a visa when making your travel plans.
You should take into consideration all factors before deciding to travel. It is important for you to understand that CGH or MUSC cannot intervene on your behalf if you are denied a visa or if you experience significant delays in the processing of your visa application. However, you need to stay in touch with CGH and your sponsoring MUSC department if your visa is denied or your application is significantly delayed so that we are aware of your situation.
Automatic Visa Revalidation
J-1 exchange visitors and J-2 dependents with expired visas can travel to Canada, Mexico or the adjacent Caribbean islands for 30 days or less and still re-enter the US as long as they have a valid I-94 card and are otherwise maintaining valid status. If you plan to travel under visa revalidation, you will still need to have all of your documents in order as if you were traveling with a valid visa, including a DS-2019 with a valid travel signature. Visit the websites below for more information on automatic visa revalidation.