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Office of International Services
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Office of International Services

J-1 Student Status > Travel and Applying for New US Visa

Travel and Applying for New US Visa

Note: This information is intended for J-1 students who are under the J-1 sponsorship of Teachers College's J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, P-1-00189. Students who are sponsored by an external organization (IIE / LASPAU / AMIDEAST / OSI) should contact their sponsoring organization for travel instructions, certification, and information.

Basic Documents Required for Re-Entering the U.S.

In general, the following documents are required for reentry into the U.S.:
  1. An unexpired passport valid at least six months into the future from the date of re-entry;
  2. An unexpired J-1 entry visa valid for multiple or further entries (exception: Canadian citizens are not required to have entry visas);
  3. An unexpired Form DS-2019 issued by Teachers College with a re-entry endorsement (travel signature) signed by the Office of International Services;
  4. (recommended) Evidence of full-time enrollment at Teachers College and proof of financial ability, such as a copy of your scholarship letter.
The travel signature is made in the lower right hand of your DS-2019, and is done by the Office of International Services. A travel recertification signature is valid for a maximum period of one year, or until your DS-2019 expires, whichever is earlier. Note that you do NOT need a travel signature if you do not travel outside of the United States, and that having a travel signature does not mean that you are required to travel.

Upon return to the United States, you will receive a new I-94 card which should be stamped by an immigration inspector "J-1 D/S": indicating that you are being allowed to re-enter the country as an J-1 student for "duration of status," i.e., as long as you are a full-time student for the period indicated on your DS-2019. If you do not receive a new I-94 card stamped "J-1 D/S," contact the Office of International Services immediately upon your return.

Re-entry after short-term travel (less than 30 days) directly to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean

If you are taking a short-term trip, less than 30 days, to one of these destinations and will return to the United States directly, you may return on the basis of an expired J-1 visa: your J-1 visa does not need to be valid in order for you to be eligible to return. However, you must still have a valid passport, an expired or unexpired U.S. visa, your unexpired DS-2019 with a travel signature, and you must keep your I-94 card when you leave the U.S. and have it readily available for re-entry in the country. Because you will keep your I-94 card upon departure, you will not need to get a new one upon return; simply show your existing I-94 for re-entry purposes. You must be sure to retain your I-94 card; if your I-94 card is taken or lost, you will need a new J-1 visa in order to return to the U.S.

  • Exception: If you go to Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands of the Caribbean for the express purpose of applying for a new F-1 visa, your visa application must be successful. If it is rejected for any reason, you are not eligible to return to the United States. You must go to your home country and apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate there.

Students on Academic Training

Students who have completed their program of study and have been authorized for J-1 post-completion Academic Training will have a new DS-2019 covering the period of authorized training, and are subject to the same J-1 travel requirements indicated above for continuing J-1 students. J-1 students on post-completion Academic Training should also carry evidence of employment, such as a job letter or paystub, indicating current, on-going J-1 employment in accordance with your Academic Training authorization.

J-2 Dependents

J-2 dependents should carry their own individual DS-2019 forms when traveling, whether traveling alone or together with the J-1 student. In addition, each J-2 dependent must have a valid J-2 visa. If the J-2 dependents are traveling alone, it is strongly recommended that they carry copies of the J-1 student's DS-2019, J-1 visa, I-94 card, and Academic Training authorization (if applicable).

Entry into a Third Country

Whenever you wish to leave the U.S. temporarily for a trip abroad, check with the consulate of the country you intend to visit regarding entrance requirements. You may need to apply for a visa to enter that country. Note that most consulates will not issue you an entry visa if your US visa has expired and/or your DS-2019 has not been endorsed for re-entry to the United States.

Applying for a New US Visa

U.S. entry visas are issued (a) only at U.S. consulates outside of the United States; and are necessary (b) only for the purpose of re-entering the United States following a temporary absence or trip abroad. You do not need a valid J-1 visa to stay in the U.S. as an J-1 student, but you do need a valid visa to return to the U.S. as an J-1 student (exception: see information about travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, above), whether to continue studies and/or post-completion Academic Training.

If your visa has or will expire, and if you plan to travel, you may need to apply for a new J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate prior to returning (note: Canadian citizens are not required to have entry visas). Plan carefully, as waiting times and application procedures may be lengthy. In general, you will need the following in order to obtain a new J-1 visa:

  1. an unexpired passport valid at least six months into the future
  2. an unexpired DS-2019 from Teachers College with a re-entry endorsement (travel signature) signed by the Office of International Services; the travel signature should be recent, just prior to your visa application
  3. recent financial documents (bank letters, scholarship letters, etc.) showing that you have continued access to financial resources to support your education
  4. evidence of continued full-time enrollment at TC, such as a transcript or transcripts
  5. evidence of the SEVIS i901 fee, if necessary (the SEVIS fee payment is charged to all students who started or resumed J-1 status after 9/1/2004)

Reference letters from the OIS or your department, while not absolutely necessary, may help in certain circumstances. Contact the OIS for more information.

Useful Web Sites for Applying for a New US Visa

Office of International Services
Teachers College, Columbia University
Box 7, 525 W 120th Street
New York, New York 10027-6696
Phone: (212) 678-3939 ♦ ~ Fax: (212) 678-3990 ♦ Email: