Travel & Visas for Scholars

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COVID-19 Updates

CGPS COVID Updates & FAQ
Immigration, travel, employment & more

UD COVID-19 Updates 
Impact on the University community and academics

Travel & Visas for Scholars

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government has provided temporary guidance and
changes to regulations related to your immigration status. Please review the

CGPS COVID Updates & FAQ

 for changes to regulations that relate to employment, travel, maintaining status and other guidance from the university and federal agencies.

J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents planning to travel outside the U.S. must have a valid travel signature on their DS-2019. To request a travel signature, submit the original DS-2019 to CGPS along with the online Scholar Request for Travel Signature form. The travel request must be submitted at least two weeks before the planned travel date as CGPS staff will have to review the applicable university and immigration records.

The travel signature indicates that CGPS certifies you are maintaining legal status upon traveling and you are expected to return to UD.

When traveling, remember to carry the following documents for your re-entry to the U.S:

  • Passport valid at least six months into the future 

  • Valid J-1/J-2 visa in your passport (except Canadian citizens, who are all exempt from visa requirements)

  • Financial information showing proof of necessary funds

  • Valid DS-2019 signed for travel

  • Proof of medical insurance

If you will apply for a visa while outside the U.S., bring the documents listed above and check the U.S. Embassy or Consulate you will visit to determine if additional items are required.

Travel to Canada, Mexico, or the Islands (other than Cuba) Adjacent to the United States

A J-1 exchange visitor, or their dependents, may travel to Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands of the Caribbean with an expired visa if the travel is for less than thirty days and they have been maintaining legal status before the trip. This process is called "Automatic Visa Revalidation."


The adjacent islands are:

  • Saint Pierre

  • Miquelon

  • The Dominican Republic

  • Haiti

  • Bermuda

  • The Bahamas

  • Barbados

  • Jamaica

  • The Windward and Leeward Islands

  • Trinidad

  • Martinique

  • Other British, French, and Netherlands territory or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea


You will be required to present the following documents at the Port of Entry:

  • A valid Form DS-2019 endorsed for travel

  • A valid Form I-94 marked with D/S (do NOT surrender your current I-94 when you leave the U.S.)

  • A current passport valid for at least six months after the date of your planned reentry or, a passport that is current through the date of reentry if issued by one of the countries on the list of the Department of State

  • A previously-issued nonimmigrant visa (even for a different nonimmigrant classification)


However, if you meet any one of following criteria, the special exemptions do NOT apply to you:

  • You applied for a new visa and it has not been issued 

  • You applied for a new visa and were denied

  • You have a terminated SEVIS record indicating that you are out of status

  • You have been out the U.S. for more than thirty days

  • You are a citizen of one of the following countries:

    • Cuba

    • Iran

    • North Korea

    • Sudan

    • Syria

Many scholars want to bring non-dependent family, such as parents, cousins, aunts and uncles to the U.S. These types of family members are not eligible for dependent visas, but may be able to visit you using a tourist visa. Be aware that tourist visa applicants must show proof of their reason for travel. As with all visa appointments, CGPS and the University are not responsible for decisions made by consular officers or port of entry officials.

Processing requirements for new visas and extensions as well as visa interview wait times vary for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. For more information on the embassy or consulate you will visit, go to http://www.usembassy.gov.

Issues that may cause problems or delays in the visa application process:

  • Applicant (J-1) or dependent (J-2) name(s) are spelled differently on different documents (passport, visa application, supporting documentation).

  • There are other individuals with the same or similar names and/or date of birth.

  • Incorrect documents provided (e.g. copies where originals are required).

  • The applicant (J-1) is working in a field that the U.S. government considers sensitive in some way.

  • Insufficient evidence of non-immigrant intent.
  • The individual is from a country whose citizens are regularly subjected to additional security checks or administrative processing by the Department of State.

How can we prevent this from occurring?

Administrative processing can be conducted at the discretion of the consular post. However, there are ways to ensure that the U.S. Consulate has the information needed to determine if such processing is necessary.

  • List names consistently on all documents

  • Make sure to follow all directions from the Consulate, including all document requirements.

  • Ask your host department for a concise letter (no longer than one page) describing the nature of your research.

  • If already at the University of Delaware, discuss travel plans with CGPS before leaving the U.S.

Before traveling outside the U.S., please ensure that you have set up your Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) using Google Authenticator. If you use a U.S. telephone number for text alerts you may not be able to access the Terra Dotta portal while abroad. For more information on accessing UD systems and setting up your account, please see the following IT webpages: Using 2FA while traveling and Protect your University account with 2FA.

Use your passport and the enclosed SEVIS DS-2019 form (for J-1 visa) and schedule your visa appointment. Take all the previously mentioned documents along with your original admission letter, SEVIS fee receipt, and financial documentation (ex: Stipend letter from the department, financial support letter, sponsorship letter, current bank statement) to the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country to apply for your visa. The U.S. embassy website provides links to all U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide.

Once approved, the visa is stamped in your passport. Canadian citizens are exempt from having to obtain a visa but must use their DS-2019 to enter the U.S. and must obtain a Form I-94 clearly indicating J-1 status. You are permitted to enter the U.S. 30 days prior to the start date noted on your DS-2019 form. You are required to report to and attend the school designated on your visa stamp and DS-2019 form. For more information please visit the Department of State website.

Please note: You should have U.S. currency available for travel expenses and any emergency that might occur between your arrival at the port of entry and your arrival in Newark, Delaware.

Many scholars wish to bring their husbands, wives, or children to the U.S. Usually, the best way to bring them to the U.S. is by using a J-2 visa. The J-2 visa is a “dependent” visa to bring family members who will be dependent on the J-1 visa holder. Read more on the CGPS Families & Dependents webpage.

J-1 Visa Guidelines

In order for the foreign national (and family members) to apply for a J visa, the following documents must be submitted and available for inspection at the closest U.S. embassy/consulate to the place of residence:

  1. Form DS-160 ("Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application").

  2. Receipt of the nonimmigrant Visa Application fee (NOTE: U.S. Government sponsored exchange visitor (J visa) applicants and their dependents are not required to pay application processing fees if participating in a Department of State, a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), or a Federally funded educational and cultural exchange program which has a program serial number beginning with G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-7 printed on Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status.); a visa issuance fee (might be applicable)

  3. A passport sized photograph for each applicant (photo requirements).

  4. Original valid passport for each applicant with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions).

  5. Original marriage certificate and proof of the dissolution of any prior marriages (and one additional copy), if applicable.

  6. Original birth certificate of children also relocating.

  7. Original DS-2019 Form properly endorsed by the Center for Global Programs & Services.

  8. SEVIS fee payment receipt.

  9. Bank statement or funding letter from the department or other institution.

  10. It is also recommended that the foreign national carry proof of ties to their home country such as home or property ownership, bank accounts or other financial assets. These are supplemental documents and should be available in case the visa officer asks to examine them.

  11. You might be asked to provide transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended as well as scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.

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ISSS Disclaimer: The information contained on this web site is provided as a service to international students, faculty, staff, employees, and administrators at the University of Delaware, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax, or other matter. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of official counsel. For assistance on your immigration status, we encourage you to contact an ISS advisor for specific guidance at oiss@udel.edu.