Traveling Outside the US

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J-1 Exchange Visitors


Required Documents

To return to the U.S. in exchange visitor status from outside the U.S. (including North America), a scholar needs the following documents

 A valid passport

 A valid visa

A valid DS-2019 with a recent travel signature from the Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) at the Office of International Programs at SHSU or the Responsible Officer of their J Program if not sponsored by SHSU.  Signatures are valid for multiple entries for up to 6 months.


Re-validating/Extending Your J-1 Visa When Traveling

If your visa is expired and you intend to travel outside of North America, please allow for the length time required to obtain the re-validation, including the possibility of a security background check.

These security checks can take one to two weeks to complete, but in rare cases may take much longer. Scheduling the required in-person visa interview can also take time.

Check the consular web site for the documentation required for this visa re-validation/extension.  When traveling to Mexico, Canada & adjacent Islands, you may not need a valid visa to re-enter the US.


Trips to Mexico, Canada & Adjacent Islands

To facilitate entry into Canada or Mexico as a visitor and re-entry into the US, you must carry all the documents listed at the top of this page.

In some cases however, a valid J-1 or dependent J-2 visa stamp is not required to re-enter the US (see information below regarding entry with an expired visa stamp). In addition, a Canadian visitor's visa may be required, depending on your country of citizenship

J-1s and their dependents planning a trip to Canada or Mexico should contact the respective consulate offices to determine whether a Canadian visitor's visa is needed, prior to your trip.

 Mexican Consulate

 Canadian Consulate


Automatic Visa RE-VALIDATION


If you qualify for Automatic Visa Revalidation, you can travel to Canada, Mexico or Adjacent Islands and return to the US in H-1B/H-4 status, even if you do not have a valid, unexpired H-1B/H-4 visa stamp in your passport.



The Office of International Programs and the Department of Homeland Security recommends that students print out and carry a copy of a DHS document explaining the rules related to Automatic Revalidation (along with page 2, a copy of the regulations).

This document should only be provided to the Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry if they experience difficulties in processing their re-entry.

We also highly recommend that you see a counselor before your travels if you have any questions.

DHS Automatic Visa Re-Validation Document

The Automatic Visa Revalidation requirements are, as follows:

Trip must be solely to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands, for 30 days or less, and you must be returning to H-1B employment with SHSU.

Must have a valid, unexpired passport.

Must have a valid, unexpired H-1B/H-4 approval notice and I-94 card **

Must have an expired H visa stamp or an F or J visa stamp in your passport.

Must NOT be from one of the US designated state sponsors of terrorism, currently Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.  Persons from these countries must be in possession of a valid visa stamp to enter the US at all times.

Must NOT make a visa stamping application at a US Embassy or Consulate while in Canada or Mexico or on adjacent islands.  Once you make a visa stamping application, you do not qualify for Automatic Visa Revalidation.


** It is vitally important to retain the original copy of their I-94 card when traveling to Canada or Mexico,if you plan to re-enter with an expired visa under the Automatic Visa Re-Validation law. You will need this document as a substitute for a valid visa when re-entering the US.

Subsequently, when departing the US, you should not relinquish this card to the airlines or an immigration officer.

If challenged, you can present the DHS Automatic Visa Re-Validation Document to explain why you must retain this document when departing the US in order to re-enter with your expired visa stamp.



Travel for extended periods

Travel outside the country for extended periods is allowed as long as it is not excessive (such as a semester) and the purpose of the travel is directly related to your collaborative exchange.

Travel and J-2 Dependent(s)

Since the status of a J-2 family member is valid only while the J-1 scholar maintains status here, it is not advisable to travel abroad for extended periods and leave your dependents in the U.S. There are no specific time periods established in the regulations, but in a recent case a J-1 scholar was denied a renewal of their J-1 visa after leaving family members in the U.S. for a little over one month.