Travel information for international scholars

In order to re-enter the United States you must have a valid passport, valid visa stamp, a recent pay-stub or current letter of employment, original DS-2019 form signed for travel if you are J-1 (J-2) visitor and I-797 notice if you are H-1B (H-4) holder.

Traveling outside the United States and re-entry process

In the past few years, there have been a number of changes that may affect international students and scholars who plan to leave and reenter the United States. The U.S. Department of State and the Customs and Border Protection Bureau of the Department of Homeland Security have increased the level of review that international visitors face at U.S. embassies and consulates, at airports and border crossing posts.

If you plan to travel outside the United States, you should be aware of important immigration and security regulations to ensure that you can leave and re-enter the U.S. The following information provides general details on travel requirements for international scholars to enter the United States, whether for the first time or after a brief trip abroad. If traveling internationally, all dependents must have a valid visa in the correct dependent category to re-enter the United States.

Travel and change of status

In most cases, a petition that is filed inside the United States to change status from one nonimmigrant status to another is canceled if travel takes place after the petition is filed with USCIS and before it is approved. Dependents who have a change of status petition pending with the USCIS should consult with an international scholar advisor prior to making travel plans.

Travel warnings

International scholars who are traveling outside the U.S. may want to check for travel warnings (warnings about civil unrest, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, etc.) prior to planning their travel.

J-1 scholars and student interns

In order to return to the United States after a visit abroad, J-1 scholars, their J-2 dependents and student interns must present the following documents:

  • Valid passport (valid six months into the future)
  • Valid J-1/J-2 visa stamped in the passport (certain exceptions apply)
  • Original Form DS-2019 with a travel signature from the program sponsor within the last year
H-1B, E-3 and O-1 visa holders

In order to return to the United States after a visit abroad, H-1B, E-3 and O-1 temporary workers need to present the following documents:

  • Valid passport (valid six months beyond H-1B, E-3 or O-1 approval expiration)
  • Valid H-1B, E-3 or O-1 visa stamped in the passport (certain exceptions apply)
  • Employee portion of the I-797 approval notice (not required for E-3)
  • A copy of their most recent pay stub (recommended).