U.S. law requires foreign citizens living in the United States to provide valid immigration documents upon entry to the United States and to retain these registration documents in their possession at all times. The 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 or dormitory room, for example) has been enough to satisfy this requirement. ISSS has generally recommended that you 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 you are required to demonstrate 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. ISSS now recommends that J-1 students carry either the original documents or certified (i.e. notarized) copies of the documents even when you 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 expiration date). 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 if you arrived by land port of entry, or copy of entrance stamp in passport and printout of I-94 record from cbp.gov/i94 if you have arrived by air or sea
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 copies of those documents issued by the previous institution.
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 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.
In order to ensure complete documentation in your file at ISSS, please also remember to bring your advisors copies of any new documents (I-94, J-1 visa stamp) received during travel outside the United States during your Exchange Visitor program.
The passport is your own government's permit for you to leave and re-enter your home country. You should ensure that your passport is valid six months into the future at all times. Consult your home country’s consulate or embassy in the U.S. to renew your passport. Foreign Consular Offices in the U.S.>>
In most cases, a valid J visa stamp is required to enter the U.S. However, 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 determine how long you may legally remain in the U.S. The visa stamp will indicate the status you are requesting 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 before traveling to ensure that you may renew your J visa at that consulate.
Always contact an ISSS scholar advisor before traveling outside the U.S. Your DS-2019 may require a travel signature, and you will be advised as to what documents are required to return to the U.S. Also consider the amount of time it may take to renew your J visa when making your travel plans.
The form I-94 arrival/departure record is an extremely important document indicating that you were legally admitted into the U.S. in J status. If you arrive by air or sea, you will receive an entrance date stamp only, and you will access your I-94 record at cbp.gov/i94. You should print two copies of that record after entering the U.S.
If you are arriving by land port of entry either along the Canadian or Mexican border, you will be required to complete a paper I-94 arrival/departure record form. 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 is usually stapled into your passport by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official. Both types of I-94s contain an 11-digit ID number (called your departure number) that the Department of Homeland Security uses to keep track of your arrival in and departure from the U.S. USCIS sometimes refers to the departure number as the "admission" number.
The I-94 record will indicate the date you were admitted into the U.S. and should include 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. If you received an I-94 with a date instead of “D/S”, you must report to an ISSS scholar advisor immediately upon admission to the U.S. An ISSS scholar advisor will instruct you on what action must be taken to change your I-94 record from a specific departure date to duration of status.
The DS-2019 is your certificate of eligibility for the J-1 visa and is issued by the sponsoring program (Emory University, Fulbright, etc.) for the program of study you are currently pursuing. The form DS-2019 is generated once your information has been entered into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Various boxes on the front side of the form denote important information; for example, box 2 denotes the sponsoring agency; box 3 the start and end dates of your J-1 program; box 4 identifies the category (e.g., student or professor); box 5 lists the funding for your program. The lower right side of the DS-2019 has lines for validation by responsible officers of the sponsoring agency affirming that you are in good standing, should you wish to travel outside of the US and return in J-1 status. 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. If your form DS-2019 is lost, damaged, or stolen, you may request a replacement form by submitting the appropriate e-form via ISSS Link.