J-1 Transfer & Travel


J-1 students who wish to transfer-out should speak with an ISSS Advisor.



Valid Travel Signature Requirement

International students must have a valid travel signature on their immigration Form DS-2019 to re-enter the United States. Immigration forms may only be signed by an approved DSO (Designated School Official) or RO (Responsible Officer) in ISSS. Academic advisors and faculty members may not sign immigration documents.

  • The immigration document states, “Each certification signature is valid for one year.” However, we know from experience that signatures near expiration can cause problems at U.S. re-entry. Therefore, ISSS recommends a new (updated) travel signature if the current one will be more than 6 months old at the time you re-enter the U.S.

  • On form DS-2019, bottom of page 1.

  • Log into iStart
  • If you are unfamiliar with iStart, see the “Welcome to iStart” webpage and video
  • Click on “J-1 Student Services,” then “Travel Signature Request.”
  • Your ISSS advisor will review your e-form and email you, once approved.
  • Then, bring your current DS-2019 to ISSS for immediate signature at the front desk.
  • Normal processing time is 3-5 business days.

  • Know Your Rights at the Port of Entry: The American Civil Liberties Union publishes a helpful pamphlet called “Know Your Rights,” which contains information about your rights in case you come into contact with law enforcement at the airport or other ports of entry to the U.S. We encourage you to review this information, especially before international travel into the U.S. It contains useful questions and answers, and a list of other resources and referral contacts should you ever need them.
  • Grace Period: If you are in a post-completion grace period, and you depart the U.S for any reason, such as a cruise, the grace period automatically ends. You cannot re-enter the U.S.
  • 5 Month Rule: For students who are continuing their program by conducting research outside of the U.S., please note that you must obtain documentation from your department prior to departing the country that explains your stay outside the U.S for this time period.  You are required to visit the ISSS office before you depart.
  • Forgot your Immigration Form: If you arrive back in the U.S. without your DS-2019, you will not be allowed immediate entry. You will go to secondary inspection (a waiting area for further questioning that can take several hours), or possibly refused entry to the U.S.
  • Questions or Concerns: Please contact your international advisor if you have questions or concerns before traveling.