Overview for Scholars

Scholar Immigration Definitions

Scholar Obtaining Your Visa (J-1)

Scholar Obtaining Your Visa (H-1B and O-1)

Scholar Transfer of Visa Supervision

Scholar Change of Status

Message for Canadian Scholars

Potential Delays in Visa Issuance

Scholar Tax Information

Health Insurance Overview for J-1 Scholars

Employment for J-1 Scholars

Employment Authorization for J-2

Employment for H-1B or O-1 Scholars

Scholar Maintaining Immigration Status (J-1)

Scholar Maintaining Immigration Status (H-1B and O-1)

J-1 Scholar Travel Information

H-1B Scholar Travel Information

O-1 Scholar Travel Information

Scholar Departure Information

Home Country Residency Requirement

Address Change Form

J-1 Exchange Visitor Travel Regulations

When leaving the U.S. temporarily during your program of study at Columbia, you will need to have the necessary documents to both permit entry to another country as well as to permit re-entry to the U.S. in J-1 status. For travel to a country other than the home country, check with the consulate of the destination country for specific entry requirements. A list of consulates in Manhattan can be found at http://www.citidex.com/.

Documents Required for Re-entry in J-1 Scholar Status

  1. Have a passport valid for at least 6 months into the future:

    Some countries have the expiration dates of the passports automatically extended for 6 months based on an agreement with the U.S. If your country of citizenship is on this list, you may enter the U.S. using your passport until its actual expiration date. Check here to see if your country is on the list. If your passport will expire, contact your consulate. .

  2. Have your form DS-2019 recertified as needed.

    Your DS-2019 must be recertified once a year, for the length of the DS-2019. If you are traveling, your annual recertification should be done before your departure.

    In order for your form DS-2019 to be recertified, you must maintain an affiliation with Columbia University and provide financial documentation covering all expenses for one year for both you and your dependents. Request recertification of your DS-2019 from the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) or the International Affairs Office (IAO) at least five business days before you plan to leave.

  3. Have an unexpired J-1 entry visa stamp valid for further entries.

    Obtaining a new visa stamp: If you visit countries outside the U. S. other than Canada, the Caribbean (with the current exceptions of Cuba), or Mexico, you must have a valid J-1 entry visa stamp in your passport in order to return to the U. S. This is essential in addition to having a form DS-2019. If your visa is no longer valid, you must take your passport and DS-2019 to the nearest U. S. consulate or embassy in the country you are visiting to apply for a new visa stamp. The Department of State's link to individual consular posts at http://usembassy.state.gov/ may be a good source of current information. If you have ever stayed in the U. S. beyond the date of your authorized permission to stay, you may not be able to obtain a visa in any country but your country of citizenship or permanent residence. If you believe that this restriction applies to you, please consult the ISSO or IAO before leaving the country.
  4. Carry evidence of financial resource.

  5. Receipt of SEVIS I-901 Fee (if applicable). For information on who is required to pay this fee, go to www.fmjfee.com

  6. Carry a recent letter stating that you are currently affiliated with Columbia University. This can be in the form of a letter from your academic department stating your title, your duties, and your salary or your Visiting Scholar/Scientist Designation letter from the ISSO.

  7. There are a number of factors that may contribute to delays in having a visa issued to study in the United States. Heightened security measures instituted since September 11, 2001 have resulted in delays in visa issuance abroad-regardless of whether you are applying for first or subsequent visas in the J classification. Security checks for those whose field of research or study is deemed to be "sensitive", interview requirements for almost all non-immigrant visa applicants, and problems in transfer of data in SEVIS are causing extended delays. For more detailed information, refer to Potential Delays in Visa Issuance.

J-2 Dependents Traveling Alone

Dependents in J-2 status must travel with their own DS-2019 forms. The DS-2019 issued to dependents is a replication of the J-1's DS-2019 annotated as being for use by dependents. Dependents must carry documentation showing sufficient funds to cover expenses (as shown on the DS-2019). Dependents wishing to return to the U.S. in J-2 immigration status may not be permitted to return unless the J-1's DS-2019 is valid at the time of the dependent's return. Otherwise, documentary requirements are the same as those for holders of J-1 visas.

Travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean

If you are traveling only to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean (except Cuba) for fewer than thirty days, you may return to the U.S. with an expired J-1 entry visa in your passport. To qualify for this privilege, you must:

  1. Be in lawful J-1 status.
  2. Have an unexpired I-94 card indicating your J-1 status in your passport when you enter the U.S. Do not surrender the I-94 card when you leave the U.S. If you do, you will not be eligible for visa revalidation.
  3. Have a current, recertified DS-2019 in your possession.
  4. Have a passport valid at least six months into the future on the day you return to the U.S.
  5. Travel only to one of the destinations named above and for fewer than thirty days. For example, you cannot use automatic revalidation to enter Canada, depart to another country, return to Canada, and then return to the U.S. within 30 days.
  6. Not apply for a U.S. visa while in Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean.
    If you apply for a U.S. entry visa during your visit to one of these destinations, you must wait for it to be issued before you return. If your visa application is denied by the American consulate, you are not allowed to use automatic revalidation to return to the U.S. You will be required to travel to your country of citizenship to apply for a new visa.
  7. Have a J-1 visa (expired or valid) in your passport or an approval notice for change of status to J-1 and the invalid visa of your previous non-immigrant status in your passport.
  8. Be a citizen of a country other than Syria, Iran, Sudan or Cuba. Nationals of these countries are not eligible for visa revalidation. If you are a national of one of the above countries, you must always have a valid visa in your passport to enter the United States.

Other Travel Matters

Canadian visas - Persons from many countries are required to obtain a Canadian entry visa when entering Canada from the U.S. Visas may be obtained from the Canadian Consulate General at 1251 Avenue of the Americas (at 50th Street, tel. 596-1600) between 8:00 and 10:00 am. Consult the Canadian Consulate General for visa regulations concerning your country before making travel arrangements.

Mexican visas - Tourist cards or visas may be required for travel to Mexico. Information is available from the New York Consulate General of Mexico, 27 East 39 Street, telephone (212) 821-0313 or 821-0378.

Travel within the U.S. - In general, special permission is not needed to travel within the continental U.S.. However, we recommend that you carry with you your passport, I-94, and DS-2019 when you travel any distance from home.

Last Reviewed:13 February 2013 Last modified:13 February 2013
International Students and Scholars Office
Columbia University