U.S. law requires foreign citizens living in the United States to register their presence upon entry to the United States (i.e. provide valid immigration documents at the U.S. border) and to retain these registration documents in their possession at all times. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not always strictly enforce the requirement to carry immigration documents at all times. In most cases, the ability to produce documents within a reasonable period of time (from your apartment, for example) has been enough to satisfy this requirement. ISSS has generally recommended that Exchange Visitors bring the original documents (passport with valid I-94 card and DS-2019 Form) when traveling an hour or more away from campus so that they are easily accessible if a scholar is required to demonstrate his or her legal status.
Recent changes to Georgia law indicate that the requirement to consistently possess the immigration documents could be more strictly enforced in the future. Thus, ISSS now recommends that J-1 scholars carry either the original documents OR certified (i.e. notarized) copies of the original documents – even while they are in the Atlanta area – in light of the potential for increased enforcement. If you choose to carry certified photocopies, please copy the following documents:
Passport identification pages that have your picture and personal information as well as official information (including its date of expiration). If you have renewed/extended the passport, make sure that you copy the extension page
J-1 visa stamp
Both sides of Form I-94
Pages 1 of your current DS-2019 Form and any subsequent DS-2019s you receive. If you transferred your J-1 status to Emory, you should also maintain the originals and photocopies of those documents
After you have made the photocopies, you should take your original documents and the photocopies to a notary public so that he or she may certify that your copies are true to the original document. During regular business hours, Emory's office of Student Financial Services provides notary services to free of charge to actively enrolled students, faculty and employees of the University. Banks usually offer notary services for a fee. You may also search for notary services through The Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority website.
In order to ensure complete documentation in your file at ISSS, please also remember to bring your advisors copies of any new documents (Form I-94, new J-1 visa stamp) received during travel outside the United States during your Exchange Visitor program.
The sections below describe your immigration documents in detail.
Your passport is your government's official travel document permitting you to leave and re-enter your home country. You are required to keep it valid at all times during the course of your exchange program. Consult your home country’s consulate or embassy in the U.S. to renew your passport. They will instruct you on how to renew your passport. You may locate the your country’s nearest consulate or embassy by clicking here
In most cases a valid J visa stamp is required to enter the U.S. The validity period of the J visa stamp has no bearing on how long you can remain in the U.S. in J status. Your DS-2019 and I-94 Departure Record card received upon arrival to the U.S. determine how long you may legally remain in the U.S. The visa stamp will indicate the status you are requesting to obtain upon entry to the U.S., whether it be J-1 Exchange Visitor status or J-2 dependent status for your dependents. If you plan to travel outside of the U.S. with an expired J visa stamp, you may be required to renew your J visa stamp before returning to the U.S. If you are traveling to a third country, contact the U.S. consulate in that country in advance of travel to ensure that you may renew your J visa at that consulate. ALWAYS contact an ISSS scholar advisor before traveling outside the U.S. You will be advised as to what documents are required to return to the U.S., including any requirements to renew your J visa stamp. Also take into consideration the amount of time it may take to renew your J visa when making your travel plans.
Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record
The Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record which you receive in transit to the U.S. is an extremely important document indicating that you were legally admitted into the U.S. in J status. You will surrender the I-94 Arrival portion at the port of entry upon admission to the U.S. The I-94 Departure record card will be given to you once admitted into the U.S. and it is usually stapled into your passport by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP official). It contains an eleven-digit identifying number (called your departure number) that the Department of Homeland Security uses to keep track of your arrival in and departure from the United States. The USCIS sometimes refers to the "departure" number as the "admission" number. The I-94 will have a date stamp indicating the date you were admitted into the U.S. and the notation “D/S" (duration of status). Duration of status allows you to legally remain in the U.S. for the duration of your program as indicated on your DS-2019 plus an additional 30 day grace period within which you may voluntarily depart upon conclusion of your exchange program. If you received an I-94 with a date written on it instead of “D/S”, you must report to an ISSS scholar advisor immediately upon admissions to the U.S. An ISSS scholar advisor will instruct you on what action must be taken to change your I-94 from a specific departure date to duration of status.
The DS-2019 is the "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status" issued by the program sponsor of the exchange visitor (Emory University, Fulbright, etc.). It makes you eligible to come to the U.S. to participate in an exchange program and information on it defines your exchange program, for example, box 2 denotes the sponsoring agency; box 3 the start and end dates of the J-1 program; box 4 identifies the category of the particular exchange visitor (e.g., student, research scholar, short-term scholar); box 5 lists the funding for the exchange visitor's program. The box in the lower right-hand corner of the form contains signatory lines for travel validation by a responsible officer of the exchange program. The back side of the Form DS-2019 contains the J-1 program conditions applicable to exchange visitors, which you are attesting to have read upon signing the Form DS-2019. You are required to possess this form when applying for a J-1 visa stamp, and for requesting permission to be admitted into the U.S. in J status.