All J-1 Exchange Visitors will need to enter the U.S. to start their programs, and all are permitted to travel outside of the United States during their programs. However, whether traveling to the U.S. for the first time, or leaving and re-entering for another reason, visiting scholars who intend to travel should read through the following webpage to ensure that they have a smooth trip.


Prospective Exchange Visitors should notify faculty sponsors of their initial travel & arrival plans.

Visitors entering the U.S. for the first time on J-1 status using an initial DS-2019 form may enter the U.S. up to (but no earlier) than 30 days before the start date on their DS-2019.

Carry the following documents with you to present to immigration officials when entering the U.S.: DS-2019, passport, financial documents, & SEVIS receipt. Be sure that the immigration officer at the U.S. Port of Entry stamps the date of entry in your passport.

Before and upon arrival to Charlotte (CLT), visitors should read and follow the steps in the sections “Pre-Arrival Information” and “Once in the U.S.A” in the lefthand sidebar for more information.


If you travel outside the United States during your J-1 program (after your initial entry), for tourism, visiting family back home, or for international professional conference attendance etc., you will need the following:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid J-1 Visa*1
  • Valid DS-2019 Form with a Travel Signature endorsed within the last 12 months**
  • Proof of Financial Support

*A J-1 visitor may travel to and return from Canada, Mexico and adjacent islands on an expired visa if the travel is for less than 30 days using a special form of re-entry called automatic visa revalidation. Return travel from any other country requires a valid visa. See the sections below regarding trips to Canada, Mexico, or Adjacent Islands.

**J-2 dependent(s) must carry their own DS-2019 Form(s) with valid Travel Signature(s).

1Warning: it is often difficult or impossible to get a new visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of your home country. For example, Mexico will not issue Non-Mexicans a new visa if your U.S. visa has already expired, and requests by Non-Mexicans to apply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Mexico are often denied, which can lead to Non-Mexicans being stranded in Mexico, unable to re-enter the U.S.. We urge you not to attempt any travel outside the United States to renew a visa (except to renew the visa in your home country) without checking with the ISSO to ensure that all necessary arrangements have been made.


Citizens of certain countries may visit Canada from the U.S. for less than 30 days without first obtaining a Canadian entry visa; this is, of course, conditional upon possession of proper U.S. immigration documents for reentry to this country. The list of those countries whose citizens do not need visas for brief travel to Canada changes frequently. Before making plans to travel to Canada, it is best to call the Canadian consulate in New York (212‑586‑2400) to check if you need a visa or access the Canadian consul online. The address of the Canadian consulate in New York is: 1251 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020.

When applying for an entry visa to Canada you may need to take or mail to the Canadian consulate your passport, I-94 and your DS-2019 Form. You will also need to bring these documents with you when you travel to and from Canada.

Unless you fall into one of the “exception” categories below, you do not need a valid U.S. visa to return to the United States in a status previously authorized by DHS/USCIS, nor will you surrender your I-94 when you cross into Canada.

Individuals with the designation 212 (d)(3)(A)(28) on the visa need to see a Scholar Advisor at least 30 days before the intended trip. Also, citizens of certain countries, including Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, and North Korea, with whom the U.S. does not have friendly relations may be required to obtain a new visa before reentering from Canada. In such cases, it may be risky to travel to Canada; you should speak with the staff of the ISSO before making travel plans.

Mexico and Adjacent Islands:

Similar procedures apply when traveling to Mexico and “Adjacent Islands” (except Cuba) are outlined for travel to Canada. Contact the ISSO for more information and addresses.


J-1 Exchange Visitors have a 30 day Grace Period following the end date on their DS-2019 Form. During this Grace Period, a visitor may prepare their affairs to leave the U.S.; a visitor cannot work during this time. When you plan to leave the University at the end of your stay, please notify the ISSO of your forwarding address and date and method of departure.