Travel Outside the U.S. by J-1 Scholars

This information is for those with DS-2019 forms issued by ISSS only. If you have a different J-1 program sponsor, you must contact that sponsor for travel advice.

Required Documentation

You should have the following documents with you (not in your luggage) when you re-enter the United States. If you left the U.S. without getting your DS-2019 signed or you forgot the document, you will receive a Form I-515A and need to contact ISSS to get a new DS-2019.

Valid Passport

If your passport is expired or close to expiring, you should renew it before you travel. Passport should be valid for at least six months into the future. Contact your home country’s consulate or embassy in the U.S. to find out how to extend or replace your current passport.

Valid J-1 Entry Visa

If your J-1 entry visa has expired (or if you do not have a J-1 entry visa in your passport), you must apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate outside the U.S. before you return UNLESS you qualify for Automatic Revalidation which provides for travel within North America. It is not possible to renew your visa from within the U.S. ISSS recommends that you apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country, if possible.

To Obtain a New J-1 Entry Visa

  • Contact the U.S. Consulate: Most U.S. consulates and embassies have websites where you can download visa application forms and find information about application fees and requirements prior to your departure from the U.S. You will need to schedule an appointment. Your visa may take longer to process than in the past, due to security checks.
  • Ensure that you have proper documents: Unexpired passport, valid DS-2019 with re-entry signature, transcripts and copies of Reduced Course Load Forms (students only), evidence of funding, evidence of health insurance. Additional documents may be requested by the consular officer.

Additional Information

Be Aware of Security Clearance Checks!

A security check will delay your visa application significantly. If you are employed at the University, please discuss your travel plans and the risks with your supervisor so that your department can be prepared in case your return is delayed due to security checks. Please see Security Clearance for more information.

Visa Denials

Although it is not common for a returning student, scholar, or student-intern to be denied a new entry visa, there is no guarantee that you will be issued another visa to return to the U.S. Your risk of denial increases under the following circumstances:

  1. You are applying in a country other than your home country
  2. You have family members (spouse, siblings, parents) who are permanent residents or citizens of the U.S.

Caution: ISSS recommends that individuals take into consideration all factors before deciding to travel. It is important for students, scholars, and student-interns to understand that it will be extremely difficult if not impossible for ISSS or the University to be successful in obtaining a reversal of a visa denial or denial of entry into the U.S. Arrests or convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) may result in the cancellation (also called "revocation") of your visa by the U.S. Department of State.

Stay in touch with ISSS: If your visa is denied or your application is significantly delayed, please contact ISSS so that we are aware of your situation. Call (612) 626-7100 or email us. Please write “visa denial” in the subject line of the email. Also, please check the ISSS website frequently and read the ISSS Weekly Update every week for most current information.

Current SEVIS DS-2019

You may use your current DS-2019 for travel if it reflects accurate information. You need to request a new DS-2019 before you travel if your current document is about to expire or if any of the following information has changed: your name, major, degree level (students only), academic department (scholars and student-interns only) or there has been a significant change in the funding information.

Valid Re-entry (“Travel”) Signature on your SEVIS DS-2019: The signature appears in the lower right corner of your DS-2019 and is valid for 12 months or the expiration date of your document, whichever is earlier. If the signature is more than 12 months old and your document has not expired, you need to request a new re-entry signature from ISSS before you travel.

What if I left the U.S. without getting my DS-2019 signed, or I forgot to take it with me? It is important you obtain a re-entry signature from ISSS before leaving the U.S. If you did not (or you forgot your DS-2019) and your visa is still active, you will be issued a Form I-515A by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at your arrival port of entry (airport, land border, seaport). With this document, you will be admitted into the U.S. for 30 days.

You must report to or contact ISSS immediately to get a newly signed DS-2019, and you will mail this DS-2019 and your I-515A to the SEVP Office in Washington, D.C. These documents must reach the office before the 30-day expiration date on your Form I-515A. Before mailing, see the instructions and address printed on your I-515A.

Note: If you realize you forgot your DS-2019 or it is missing a re-entry signature and you have sufficient time remaining before your return to the U.S., you can request a replacement form by emailing ISSS.

Documentary Evidence of Funding

Immigration inspectors may ask you to verify the financial support indicated on your document. Carry documentation with you (such as assistantship verification letter, bank statement, scholarship letter, letter verifying your employment at the UMN).

Unofficial Transcript or a Verification of Enrollment Letter (students only)

This is a record of your academic career at the University and verifies full-time enrollment at the University. Unofficial transcripts and verification of enrollment letters are available from any Student Services Center on campus. Carry copies of Reduced Course Load form(s) (formally known as Exception Forms) for any semester(s) in which you had less than a full course load, if applicable. You should also bring transcripts from any other schools attended in the U.S.

Offer Letter of Employment (students with Academic Training Authorization only)

This is the letter that students receive from an employer when offered a job for those that have been authorized for pre-completion, mandatory, post-completion, or post-doctoral academic training.

Letter from Supervisor and a UMN Business Card (scholars and student-interns only)

We recommend scholars and student-interns ask their Faculty Mentor at the University of Minnesota to write a letter to prove that they are pursuing the original purpose of their stay in the U.S. The letter should include the following three points:

  1. The Faculty Mentor is aware of the scholar or student-intern's travel
  2. The travel does not negatively effect the scholar or student-intern's J program objective
  3. The Faculty Mentor expects the scholar or student-intern to return to the University of Minnesota to complete their J program

Proof of Adequate Health Insurance

The University of Minnesota requires J-1 and J-2 visa holders to enroll in the University of Minnesota Student Health Benefits Plan (SHBP). This insurance also meets minimum U.S. government requirements listed on page 2 of your DS-2019 form. Carry the card you receive from the insurance company for proof of insurance while you travel. J-1s who receive health insurance through their University of Minnesota employment are not required to enroll in SHBP. They must also buy insurance for their J-2 dependents through the Employee Benefits plan. Carry the card you receive from the insurance company for proof of insurance while you travel.

Learn more about insurance for:

Current DS-7002 (student-interns only):

You should carry your current DS-7002 (“Training/Internship Placement Plan”) when traveling outside of the U.S. Prior to departure, review it carefully for any substantive changes. If your internship has changed significantly, your UMN Faculty Mentor and hosting department must request an amended DS-7002 and DS-2019 on your behalf.

Last updated: May 21, 2021