Arriving in the USA
Once the participant has a J-1 Visa, he or she will be ready to travel to the U.S. However, the participant may not arrive in the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the program start date. If he or she enters the U.S. more than 30 days before the start date, the participant may not receive the entry/exit stamp that corresponds to the J-1 Visa, or the customs official may deny him or her entry into the U.S.
Upon arriving, the participant will immediately go to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to request admission to the U.S. At the border, he or she will be entered into a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) database and may also be fingerprinted and photographed.
Once CBP’s inspection is complete, the officer will stamp the participant’s passport to record their entry.
The stamps show the place and date of the participant’s admission to the U.S. and the time frame he or she is authorized to stay in the U.S. The officer should write the letters “D/S”; this means “Duration of Status.” The duration of status includes the program dates listed on the DS-2019 Form, plus 30 days of travel/personal time immediately after the program end date. In most cases, the U.S. Department of State grants participants a 30-day period to settle their affairs and to travel within the U.S. after the program ends, called the grace period. However, the participant is NOT permitted to continue interning/training during this time. The grace period begins the day after the program end date on the DS-2019 Form, and the participant must exit the U.S. by the 30th day of the grace period in order to complete the program in good standing. Though rare, the officer may write an actual date instead of D/S. This is the date by which the participant is required to leave the U.S. Note: If the date is before the program end date, the participant must end the program early and leave the U.S. by this date.
It is rare for J-1 Visa holders to encounter difficulties when crossing the U.S. border. However, if the participant is agitated, acts suspiciously, or if he or she is missing any documents, CBP officials may detain the participant for further questioning. If he or she does not have the DS-2019 Form available, the participant may be detained and may also be flagged in the computer system, thus causing delays on future trips to the U.S. A missing DS-2019 Form may also cause the CBP official to deny the participant entry into the U.S.
The best way to assure a smooth entry is to have all of the appropriate forms completed and ready to present to CBP, be friendly and patient in line and with the CBP official, and answer their questions honestly. If the participant contacts you from the border because they have encountered any difficulties, please contact us immediately or ask the participant or CBP officer who contacts you to notify us so that we can assist with finding a resolution.
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