INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL Where can I find DIS travel information?
The DIS website has travel pages for J-1/J-2 Exchange Visitors
, H-1B Temporary Workers
, and O-1 Aliens of Extraordinary Ability
. These pages have travel advisories, Form I-94 information, and more! If you have questions, email
or call us (301-496-6166). F-1 Students, contact your Designated School Official (DSO)/International Student Advisor for travel advising.Will I have to apply for a new U.S. visa?
You need a valid U.S. visa in your passport to re-enter the U.S. from overseas. If you are entering from Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island, please check the information in the "Other Common Questions" section below and follow the links to the DIS webpage on this topic. Check your visa expiration date before you leave so that you can plan to apply for a visa at the beginning of your trip abroad, if necessary. Contact a U.S. Consulate or Embassy
in the country you are visiting to find out about their application requirements and processing times. If you will not be in your home country, ask if they allow visa applications from third country nationals. See Getting Your Visa
for more information.Should I bring a travel letter?
Having a travel letter is especially encouraged if you are applying for a U.S. visa so the Consular Officer can see a simple, clear overview of the purpose of your time in the U.S. The letter should outline your research in easy-to-understand language and can be signed by your IC sponsor or supervisor. Please use the DIS Sample Travel Letter
as a guide. What if I get "Administrative Processing"?
Some visa applications are subject to a more extensive background check, referred to as "Administrative Processing," that can delay the visa application process by several days to several weeks or longer. Let DIS know if you are going through administrative processing so that we can advise you and take note of any trends in the experiences of NIH Visiting Program participants. The Sample Travel letter above may help reduce misunderstandings and background checks.What do I do when I get back to the U.S.?
DIS needs to review any new immigration documents to check for accuracy and to make sure your DIS record is updated. Give DIS copies of your and your family's new passport admission stamps, your electronic Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Records
, and your new U.S. entry visas (if applicable). Please fax (301-496-0847) or hand-carry these items to DIS.TRAVELING WITHIN THE UNITED STATESWhat documents should I have with me?
will probably not need to present your immigration documents when traveling
inside the U.S., but it is a good idea to bring your passport and immigration
documents with you as identification in case of an emergency or an unusual
situation. Also, it is possible to be
asked to present your immigration documents if you are driving along the U.S.
border.TRAVELING AS AN NIH-SPONSORED J-1/J-2 EXCHANGE VISITORDo I need a travel signature?
You need a valid travel signature on your Form DS-2019 when you re‑enter the U.S. These signatures are valid for one year and can only come from an authorized DIS staff member. If you need one or are unsure, bring your original Form DS-2019 to the DIS office during walk‑in hours, 1:30pm-3:30pm, Monday-Thursday. Try to come at least two (2) weeks before traveling!Do I have to pay the visa fees?
NIH-sponsored J-1 Exchange Visitors and their dependents are exempt from certain visa fees. However, it can be hard to schedule a visa appointment at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy without paying the fee, especially if you are using an online system. Here are some tips:
For cruises leaving from the U.S., check with the carrier ahead of time for any immigration restrictions for visits to foreign ports or reentry to the U.S. If you are going on a "
" cruise (cruise begins and ends at the same U.S. port), your
will NOT show your cruise return date as your entry date. Your Form I-94 will be revalidated with no change to your status or previous date of entry. Sea port inspectors may not be as familiar with automatic visa revalidation rules (see below), so it may be helpful to have a valid U.S. visa when returning from a cruise.
Under certain circumstances you do not need to have a valid U.S. visa if you are traveling to Canada or Mexico (if in J-1/J-2, H-1B, or O-1 status), or certain Caribbean Islands (J-1/J-2 status only). Our
travel advisories cover this in detail. Please note that you may still need to apply for visas to enter these countries. Also, J-1/J-2s will still need a travel signature on their Form DS-2019.
If you do not need a visa to visit Canada, you are encouraged to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before boarding your flight (will be required beginning October 2016). To find out if you need an eTA and how to apply, visit