Immigration Documents

These documents are extremely important as they are evidence of your lawful status in the U.S. You will need to present these documents upon occasion, and will need to carry them with you if you must leave the country and wish to re-enter. We strongly recommend that you make photocopies of these documents to facilitate their replacement in case of loss.

Passport

Federal regulations require that your passport be valid at all times while you are in the U.S. If your passport will expire while you are still in the U.S., you must contact the Embassy or Consulate of your home country to make arrangements to have your passport extended. You will not be permitted to re-enter the U.S. with an expired passport. The addresses and phone numbers of foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. are online. Visit the OISS website; click on information and resources, and scroll down to the section for foreign embassies to find the appropriate consulate for your country.

Certificate of Eligibility (DS2019)

This form was issued by your Program Sponsor for you to obtain the J-1 visa from a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. You should read and clearly understand all the information printed on your Certificate of Eligibility. If you lose this form you should immediately request a new form from your Program Sponsor. You must carry the Certificate of Eligibility with you if you travel outside the U.S.  In addition, you must obtain a travel signature from your Program Sponsor PRIOR TO YOUR TRAVEL or you may be denied re-entry into the U.S.

Expiration Date on Certificate of Eligibility (DS-2019): The expiration date on your Form DS-2019 (Item # 3) is the date that your program in the U.S. ends (unless you complete your program objectives prior to this date). However, you have a 30-day grace after the end date to remain in the U.S.  You may use this 30-day period to prepare for your departure, or to travel in the U.S. You are not permitted to engage in employment of any kind during this time period.

Visa

The J-1 visa stamp in your passport permits you to enter the U.S. for a specific purpose and period of time. The visa may either be for single, double, or multiple entries. If it is authorized for single entry only, you will need to apply for a new visa in order to reenter the U.S. If the visa is authorized for two entries, you may leave and reenter the U.S. one more time as long as your Form DS-2019 is valid and travel is within the time specified on the visa. If the visa is authorized for multiple entries, you may come and go as many times as you wish, again providing that your Form DS-2019 is valid and travel is within the dates specified on the visa.

In some cases, the date of expiration on your Form DS-2019 and the expiration date on your visa stamp may not coincide. Please consult your visa stamp and note the date of expiration. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S. but your Form DS-2019 and Form I-94 are valid, your legal immigration status in the U.S. remains valid. Your visa is used for entry or reentry to the U.S. only, so there is no need to worry if it expires while you are here. It does not dictate the length of your authorized stay. That is determined by your Form DS-2019 and I-94. However, if your visa has expired and you depart the U.S., you will be required to obtain a new visa before attempting to reenter the U.S. It is not possible to renew a J-1 visa while you are within the borders of the U.S.

NOTE: If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands for a period of less than 30 days, you will be permitted to reenter on an expired visa, provided that it corresponds with your current visa status and your Form I-94 and Form DS-2019 are valid.

If you change your visa status or program category within the U.S. and subsequently depart the country, you will be required to obtain a new visa in the new category before attempting to reenter the U.S., regardless of whether the previous visa is still valid.

Form I-94 (Arrival and Departure Record)

This electronically retrieved document indicates your visa category and contains an eleven-digit identifying number called the admission number, which is used to keep track of your arrival in and departure from the U.S.

Follow these steps to print your I-94 card:

  • Go to https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home
  • Fill out your information in the fields provided
  • Check the correct name spelling, all personal information, the visa category and expiration date of the authorized stay
  • If errors are found, the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) should be contacted as soon as possible. An OISS advisor can assist you in contacting CBP.
  • If there are NO errors, you must print out your Form I-94 and keep it with your passport and Form DS-2019

All J-1 exchange visitors should have the notation "D/S" on their I-94 cards instead of an actual date of expiration. The “D/S” stands for "duration of status" and means that you are permitted to legally remain in the US as long as you have a Form DS-2019 with unexpired program dates and are maintaining your program objective. (Your program dates can be found in section # 3 of your DS-2019.) Make sure that your program dates have not expired. If you need to have an extension of your program, you must talk to the department or faculty member to whom you report and ask them to contact the OISS to arrange for an extension. Do not attempt to travel outside the US with an expired DS-2019 as you will not be permitted to re-enter.