J-1 TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE U.S.
While you are pursuing studies at WKU on an J-1 visa, you may wish to travel outside of the U.S. to return home during a break, to participate in a study abroad program, or simply to visit and explore another country.
Before you travel, please make sure you take the necessary steps to protect your J-1 status.
DS-2019 Requirements for Traveling Outside the United States
Get a Travel Signature on Your DS-2019
Before you leave the country, make sure you have a valid travel signature from an ISO advisor on your DS-2019. You will not be able to re-enter the United States without a valid signature.
- First, submit a "Travel Signature Request for DS-2019 Document" request through iStart at least two weeks before your expected departure date.
- Once you have submitted the request on iStart, bring your DS-2019 to ISO. If you have misplaced your document, you will also need to submit the "Replace Lost DS-2019 Document" request on iStart.
- Your Travel DS-2019 request will be reviewed and processed within 1 to 3 business days and you will receive an email notification once your Travel DS-2019 is available for pick up.
Make Sure Your DS-2019 Reflects Your Current Situation
If there have been any changes in your situation (for example, if you have changed your major, degree level, or source/s of financial support) that are not indicated on your current DS-2019, you will need to get a new one.
You will need to submit the “Travel Signature Request for DS-2019 Document” in iStart and note the changes in the “Note any Special Requests” field. You may be asked to provide updated financial documents.
Timing can be critical for all of these changes, so start the process early.
Make Sure Your DS-2019 Will Not Expire While You Are Out of the Country
Check the completion date in section 3 of your DS-2019 to see whether it is about to expire. If it expires while you are outside the U.S., you will not be able to re-enter the U.S.
If your DS-2019 is about to expire and you have not yet completed your program, you will need to apply for an “Extension of DS-2019” through iStart. You do not need to make a separate request for a travel signature. When your extension is approved, a new DS-2019 will be printed and signed for travel.
Updated financial documentation will be required to process your DS-2019 extension.
Make Sure Your Visa is Valid
Is the J-1 visa stamp in your passport valid beyond the date you plan to re-enter the United States? If not, you must apply for a new visa stamp while you are abroad.
Short trips to Mexico, Canada, or islands adjacent to the United States (such as the Bahamas)
You may be eligible to return from Mexico, Canada and islands adjacent to the United States even if you have an expired visa. This is generally allowable for trips of 30 days or less. It is essential that you read all eligibility criteria on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement website before you decide to use this exception.
Don’t forget, you need a travel signature on your DS-2019 even for short trips to nearby countries!
Travel to Countries Other Than Your Home Country
If you are traveling to a country other than your home country, you may need a visitor or transit visa. To find out, visit that country’s embassy website at Foreign Embassies of Washington, D.C., and search for the consular section nearest you.
If you are traveling to the European Union, and your home country is not within the European Union, you may apply for the Schengen Visa, which permits travel within E.U. countries.
Links for J-1 Students
- Applying for a Visa