Travel Guidelines

Documents Needed for Travel (J-1 Students)

1. SEVIS DS-2019 with a travel signature from an International Advisor endorsed within the past 12 months. The travel signature is valid for one year from the date it is endorsed or until the end of your program (whichever is shorter). You do NOT need to obtain a new signature each time you travel. One signature is valid for multiple trips in and out of the U.S.  To obtain a signature for travel, you should come to ISSS during advising hours.

2. Passport valid for at least six months into the future. Check with your home country if your expiring passport can be renewed in the U.S.

3. Valid visa in your passport (Canadian citizens are exempt from this requirement). If your J-1 visa has expired, you must apply for a new visa from the U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad, unless you are eligible for Automatic Revalidation (See section below). You CANNOT apply for a new visa within the U.S.

4. Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure record) is issued by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP is no longer issuing paper Form I-94s unless you are entering the U.S. by a land port. For more information and updates about the I-94 please visit

Departing the U.S.

If you still have a paper Form I-94 and are traveling outside the U.S. you need to surrender it to the airlines before your departure. If you have previous Form I-94s that have not been surrendered you will need to visit the following link and follow the instructions to insure that your departures are officially recorded:

Reentering the U.S.

A.) Before leaving the window at the U.S. port of entry, check that the CBP officer has indicated the following on your passport: a date of entry stamp, your accurate student visa status "J-1", and the notation “D/S” (Duration of Status), not a date or left blank. **If you do not see this on your documents, you must go back to the officer to have it corrected/updated before leaving the airport.**

B.) A few days after your return to the U.S. you will need to go online to retrieve your electronic I-94 information: Review that your personal information and port of entry information is accurate (as mentioned in section A above) and print a copy for your record.

5. Financial documents showing necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses.

6. Proof SEVIS Fee payment recommended (especially for Canadian citizens): For more information on the SEVIS fee go to:

7. If you are a…    

New Student: Your UCSC admission letter and/or official receipt of tuition and fee payment
Continuing Student: Proof of your enrollment in classes (print out your class schedule/enrollment for the current and next quarter from MyUCSC Portal) and/or your transcripts.
J-1 Student on Post-Completion AT: Properly endorsed DS-2019 with AT work authorization remarks and a recent employment/internship letter.

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Applying for or Renewing the J-1 Visa

If you need to renew or apply for a U.S. entry visa, expect delays. Plan ahead, as this may take longer than in the past. Because most visa applicants are now required to appear for a personal interview, you should expect processing delays. In addition, "security checks" can delay visa issuance by several weeks or months.

To find out the procedures of your J-1 visa application you will need to locate the U.S. embassy where you will apply for your visa, and review the information on its website.

General Visa application documents:
1.Online DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application
2.A valid passport
3.DS-2019 with proper signatures
4.Proof of funding as reflected on your DS-2019
5.Proof of continued enrollment or research
6.Documents that demonstrate ties to home country
7.Student pursuing post-completion training: DS-2019 with AT details and employment/internship letter (AT students)
8.Additional documents required by the U.S. embassy/consulate in which you plan to apply for your visa.

Remember, the visa cannot be obtained from within the U.S. A valid visa is only needed when you are reentering the U.S. Once you are in the U.S., you do not need a valid visa stamp to remain in the U.S.

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Automatic Revalidation

Automatic visa revalidation allows most F-1 and J-1 students to take a trip of fewer than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands adjacent to the U.S. (with the exception of Cuba) and reenter the U.S. on an expired visa provided you have proper documentation and have not applied for a new visa during the visit. This process revalidates your visa (making it eligible for the single trip), but does not renew it.
To find out whether you are eligible to use Automatic Revalidation, please visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website. You can also consult with an International Student Advisor at ISSS.

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I-515A Form

I-515A form is given to an F-1 or J-1 student if s/he does not present all the required documents when entering the U.S.., and is granted temporary admission at the discretion of the Customs and Border Protection Officer. I-515A requires that F-1 and J-1 students submit documents listed on the form within 30 days to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). An I-94 will also be issued to the student with a limited validity period of 30 days from the date of issuance.

SEVP will terminate the SEVIS record of any F-1 student who does not comply with the Form I-515A directive within the 30-day response period. If SEVP does not receive the required documentation at the address provided on the I-515A by the I-94 expiration date, the student’s SEVIS record will be terminated on the next day, and s/he will be required to leave the U.S.. immediately.

If the student mails all the required original documents, including the I-94, to SEVP by the deadline, and SEVP approves his/her continued admission, SEVP will return the I-20, an amended or new I-94 for the normal duration of status (D/S) and a cover letter to ISSS. ISSS will then contact the student for a time to pick up the documents.

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US-VISIT Program

The US Visit Program uses biometrics (fingerprints and photographs) to record international visitors who hold non-immigrant visas at U.S. visa issuing posts and ports of entry. This program is intended to reduce fraud, identity theft, and the risk that terrorists and criminals will enter the United States undetected.  For more information please visit US-VISIT.

For more travel guidelines, please visit the U.S.. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

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