Traveling Outside The U.S. On Your J-1 Visa

By Joy Lo

Family having fun

Au pair Angel in Whistler, Canada with her host kids. Image courtesy of the Burky family.

International Travel Checklist

Are you hoping to travel outside of the U.S. on your J-1 visa? Good news - this shouldn’t be a problem! During your program, you should be able to travel internationally and return to the U.S. as long as:

  • You have a valid, unexpired passport.
  • Your J-1 visa is marked with an "M" under "Entries" in your passport. This means you are allowed multiple entries to the U.S.
  • Your J-1 visa is not expired.
  • Your DS-2019 form is still valid.
  • You have mailed or brought your DS-2019 form to the InterExchange office in New York for a travel validation signature.
    • Please alert our office that you need your DS-2019 form signed before coming in or mailing it. Allow at least two to three weeks for return service in the mail.
  • You check the visa requirements of the country you are traveling to and secure any necessary visas.
  • You take your passport, DS-2019 form, and I-94 card or printout of your electronic I-94 record with you.

Did you complete the above checklist? Don’t forget:

  • You may not spend more than 30 consecutive days outside of the U.S. during your J-1 program.
  • InterExchange must be notified of your international travel plans and sign your DS-2019 form before you travel.
  • Travel validation signatures are good for six months. If you plan on traveling again more than six months after InterExchange signs your DS-2019 form, InterExchange will have to sign your form again.

Can I travel internationally during my extension period?

The short answer is no, you cannot travel outside of the U.S. during your extension period.

If you have been approved for an extension, InterExchange will issue a new DS-2019 form reflecting your new extended program dates. However, the J-1 visa in your passport will still expire according to the expiration date printed on the visa itself. You are allowed to remain in the U.S. for the duration of your extension, but if you travel outside of the U.S., you will not be allowed to re-enter. While it might be possible to apply for a new J-1 visa in your home country, there is no guarantee that the visa will be granted, and we do not recommend it.

Can I travel internationally during my 30-day grace period?

No, you cannot travel internationally during your travel month. Both your DS-2019 form and J-1 visa will be expired. Use your last 30 days to soak up all the U.S. has to offer!

Karina visiting Puerto Rico

Au pair Karina in Puerto Rico during her au pair year. Image courtesy of Karina.

Bonus Travel Tips 🎉

  • Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are territories of the U.S., not separate countries. This means that you can visit them just like you would any other state in America.
  • Always keep your passport up-to-date. You must have at least six months remaining on your passport before it expires to re-enter the U.S.
  • When you travel, you will need to take all of your original documents with you. Photocopies are not valid documentation for travel.
  • If you lose your passport during your program and need a replacement, you will not be able to travel internationally and return to the U.S., as your replacement passport will not have a J-1 visa in it.
  • Ultimately, the decision regarding whether you are allowed back into the United States is not under InterExchange's control. You’ll need to consider this when making your decision about whether or not to travel.
Joy Lo By

Joy is a huge advocate for cultural exchange. She's lived across the U.S. and various countries around the world including the UK, Australia and Indonesia. She has a unique perspective on working and thriving in other cultures. She's been a contributing author on Au Pair USA program.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation