When travelling outside the U.S. and intending to return to continue your program at UVA, you must obtain a “travel signature” on your DS-2019 before you go. To obtain a travel signature, come to the ISO during our walk-in advising hours (Mon-Thurs 9-12 and 1-4) approximately one week before you depart the U.S. No appointment is necessary. Please note we do not have walk in advising hours on Fridays. Bring your DS-2019 form and passport. If you have J-2 dependents that will be traveling their forms will need to be signed as well. We provide J-1 travel signatures “on the spot.” There is usually no delay.
You don’t necessarily need a travel signature every time you go abroad. A travel signature is valid for about 6 months, meaning you may enter the U.S. repeatedly during that time as long as your DS-2019 and your J-1 visa are also valid.
If all of the spaces for travel signatures on your DS-2019 are full, we will provide you with a new DS-2019 when you come to the ISO.
You may travel freely within the 50 states and to such American dependencies as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix), Guam, American Samoa, etc., without a travel signature.
Return from Canada, Mexico, or any of the Atlantic and Caribbean islands not controlled by the U.S., e.g., Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, etc. requires a recent travel signature on your DS-2019 only. You may return from these places with an expired J-1 visa as long as your DS-2019 is valid, and you have obtained a recent travel signature. Return from any other country in the world requires both a recent travel signature on your DS-2019 and a valid J-1 visa in your passport.
If your J-1 visa has expired, or if it will expire while you are outside the U.S., and you will be returning from any country other than Canada, Mexico, or any of the Atlantic and Caribbean islands not controlled by the U.S., you must obtain a new J-1 visa at the U.S. embassy. It is impossible to obtain a new J-1 visa inside the U.S.
For information about applying for a new J-1 visa at a U.S. embassy, please contact the mission you intend to visit for this purpose. Application procedures and processing times vary widely by location. Check before your travel plans are finalized.
You should anticipate significant delays especially during peak periods, e.g., the start of the academic year, or over the winter holidays. Depending on where and when you apply for a new J-1 visa, you may have to adjust your travel plans to allow for extra time abroad.
A list of U.S. embassies is available here.
To apply for a new J-1 visa, all you need from the ISO is a valid DS-2019 that has a recent travel signature on it.