J-1 Exchange Student Travel and Re-entry
Important: I-94 Change for Re-entry
All international students entering the U.S. by air or sea will no longer receive a paper I-94 card (the little white card in your passport). Instead, J-1 students will receive a stamp in their passport. This stamp will show the date of admission, class of admission (J-1), and date that the student is admitted through (i.e. "D/S"). Those entering by land borders (Canada and Mexico) will still receive a paper I-94A.
To verify immigration status (for benefits with DMV and Social Security) and employment authorization (with USCIS for STEM extensions, H-1B applications, etc.), you will need to still present a valid I-94 card!
If you do not possess a paper I-94 card, you will need go to www.cbp.gov/I94 and print one out.
Steps You Should Take Before Travel
- Make an appointment with the International Student Advisor in the Global Education Office to speak about your travel plans. This is a crucial first step! The International Student Advisor will ask questions to tailor the travel advice to your specific situation.
- Always determine if you will need a visa for countries other than your own BEFORE you travel.
- Get a travel endorsement (signature on Page 1 of your Form DS-2019) from the International Student Advisor. NOTE TO SPONSORED STUDENTS: You will need to contact your sponsor to sign your DS-2019. SUNY Plattsburgh cannot sign on behalf of your sponsor.
- Assemble all the appropriate documentation for travel and re-entry:
- A valid passport (at least 6 months into future unless your country has a treaty extension)
- A valid J-1 visa (unless you are exempt)
- Valid I-94A card, or stamp in your passport
- Current form DS-2019 (with valid travel endorsement)
- Evidence of finances
- Official transcripts
- GEO's contact details (just in case of emergency)
- SUNY Plattsburgh ID card
Automatic Revalidation of Visa
"Automatic Revalidation of Visa" (or, Neighboring Country Provision) allows nationals of most countries in valid J-1 student status to travel to Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands of the Caribbean (other than Cuba) for 30 days or less and re-enter the United States without a valid J-1 student visa. This benefit is not available to nationals of Iraq, Cuba, Sudan, Iran, Libya, Syria, or North Korea.
In order to take advantage of this benefit, please see below:
If you still have a paper I-94, it is important that you do not surrender your I-94 when exiting the U.S. Make sure that you tell the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer that you will be keeping your I-94 in order to re-enter the U.S.
If you do not have a paper I-94 and have just a stamp in your passport, the inspector at the border will verify your I-94 electronically to revalidate your expired visa if you meet the conditions of automatic revalidation.
- While exiting and re-entering the U.S. under this provision, you must not apply to renew your student visa in Canada. If you do, you will need a valid J-1 visa to return to the U.S.
- If you have violated your J-1 status and your SEVIS record is in "terminated" status, you are not eligible for this provision.
Travel Around New York and the Rest of the U.S.
Many students mistakenly feel that since they are not leaving the U.S., they do not need their documents when they travel around the U.S. Remember the U.S. is a large country comprised of individual states with very different law enforcement bodies. The Global Education Office strongly encourages you to carry proof of identity and immigration status when traveling around the U.S.
Recommended Documents for Travel Within the U.S.
- A valid passport
- A valid DS-2019 (endorsed for travel)
- I-94A card, or stamp in your passport
- SUNY Plattsburgh ID card
- Driver's License (if you have one).
Please feel free to make an appointment with your International Student Advisor to further discuss any travel-related questions that you may have.