Traveling Abroad for J-1 Visa Holders

(Except for Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands for which different rules apply)

If you are a student holding a J-1 visa and you plan to travel abroad, in order to be readmitted to the US you need to present to the Immigration Officer, at the port of entry, the following documents:

  1. Valid Passport. It must be valid for at least 6 months when you enter the US.
  2. Valid American J-1 Visa. A valid J-1 visa stamped in your passport.
  3. Valid DS-2019. A new DS-2019 or your current DS-2019 Form which has been signed for travel in the lower right hand corner within 1 year by your sponsor. If MIT is your sponsor you will need the signature of an ISO advisor in the International Students Office, otherwise you need to contact your visa sponsor.
  4. Documentation of Financial Support (award letters, letters from departments, bank letters, etc.)
  5. Documentation of MIT enrollment (letter from department, unofficial transcript, MIT ID card, etc.)
  6. Form I-901 (SEVIS Fee) Receipt

Please be advised that entry into the US is at the sole discretion of theU.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) Officer at the U.S. Port-of-Entry. Also, please be aware that since the passage of the Immigration Act of 1996 it has become extremely hard to receive a new US visa in a third country.

Special Cases:

  1. Students who have changed their visa type while in the US, if you decide to travel outside of the US after the change of status has been approved, you must apply for a new entry visa at the American Consulate or Embassy before reentering the US.
  2. Students who are married to American Citizens or Permanent Residents, and students who have been included in a petition for permanent residency, please make an appointment with one of the International Student Advisors before you finalize the plans for your trip.

Request a Form DS-2019 with ISO Travel Signature

Students should check the bottom right hand corner of your current Form DS-2019 for a ISO advisor or program sponsor signed travel signature. This signature should be dated at least within 12 months of the day you plan to re-enter the U.S.

If your Form DS-2019 is sponsored by MIT, request an updated travel signature by visiting the ISO during business hours and dropping off your most current Form DS-2019 at the reception desk. You may return to the ISO after 2 business days to pick-up your Form DS-2019 with new travel signature.

Please see our pages on Traveling to Canada, Mexico, or Adjacent Islands or Travel for Canadians, if your situation, applies for different guidelines on travel.


This information is for MIT students only. For more complete information come to the International Students Office.

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