Immigration Services

Visa and Travel Information

Salk Institute for Biological Studies - Immigration Services - Visa and Travel Information

Visa and Travel Information


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Before you can begin the J visa application process or pay the J-1 SEVIS fee, you must receive a form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status, for you and any J-2 dependents from Salk’s Immigration Services Department. This will be mailed to you after Human Resources receives the appropriate paperwork from your intended lab and after you complete the documents that we will send to you via email.


US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) charges a $180 fee to new J-1 scholars. This fee is in addition to the visa fee(s) required by the US Consulate or Embassy. You must pay the SEVIS fee and obtain a receipt before you apply for a J-1 visa to start a new J-1 program or, if you are in the US, before you apply for a change of status to J-1. The fee can be paid online by credit card; you must have a printer ready to print the electronic receipt once you make the payment.

See https://www.fmjfee.com for information and instructions. J-2 dependents do not have to pay the SEVIS fee, but they do have to pay applicable visa fees.


Reminder for J-1s and J-2s: J-1s & J-2 dependents must have the intention to return to their home country upon completion of the J-1 program and maintain a residence abroad to which they intend to return. They cannot have the intention to stay in the US permanently or indefinitely. The question of intent may come up when applying for a J-1 or J-2 visa, entering or reentering the US in J-1 or J-2 status, or applying to change to J-1 or J-2 status from within the US. If you may be marrying a US citizen or permanent resident (or someone who is applying for either) or planning to apply for US permanent residence within 90 days of entry or reentry to the US in J status, consult a qualified US immigration attorney prior to applying for a J visa or entering or reentering the US in J status.

For entry or reentry to the United States, you must have a valid, unexpired visa issued by a US Consulate or Embassy that is appropriate for the purpose of your stay in the US.* Because there are different procedures and requirements, check the website for the specific US Consulate or Embassy you plan to visit in order to schedule a visa appointment and for visa application information and instructions. Note: Canadian citizens are visa-exempt and do not normally apply for a visa at a US Consulate or Embassy, but they must pay the SEVIS fee prior to arrival in the US.

*There is an exception for reentry allowing for the “automatic revalidation” of one’s visa for nonimmigrants who travel for less than 30 days solely to Canada or Mexico under certain conditions. For those in J (or F) status, revalidation also applies to the “adjacent islands,” except Cuba.

  • Receive your DS-2019 from Human Resources (J-1 and J-2 only)
  • Pay the SEVIS fee online at least 3 days in advance (J-1 only)
  • Complete the DS-160 online
  • Pay the visa application processing fee and, if applicable, the visa issuance (reciprocity) fee following the instructions provided by the US Consulate or Embassy you will visit
  • Make an appointment at the US Consulate or Embassy you will visit

  • Passport—valid for at least 6 months from when you enter/reenter the US
  • Recent offer, appointment, or verification letter from the Salk Institute
  • Credentials, including applicable diplomas, transcripts, licenses, certificates, or other documentation
  • Documents specified below according to your intended status
  • Any other documents required by the US Consulate or Embassy you will visit, such as curriculum vitae (CV) and/or US tax forms/statements
  • Carry US immigration-related documents from any previous stays in the US, such as I-797 Approval Notices and DS-2019s, in case they are needed.
  • If dependent(s), marriage or birth certificate showing relationship to principal applicant

  • Form DS-2019: Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status
    • The J-1 must sign and complete the Exchange Visitor Certification section at the bottom of his/her DS-2019 and the DS-2019s of any J-2 dependents.
    • For continuing Js, it must be signed for travel by the (Alternate) Responsible Officer in Immigration Services at the bottom right within 1 year from the date of return to US
  • SEVIS fee receipt printout (required for initial entry; recommended for reentry)
  • Funding letter from any other funding source, if not fully funded by Salk

Notes:

  • Do not complete or submit Form DS-7002, as Salk does not sponsor the J-1 Intern/Trainee category. The DS-7002 is not required for participation in Salk’s J-1 program.
  • Continuing J-1s subject to the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement (scroll down to heading Two-year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement): If you have initiated the J-1 waiver application process, it may be advised that you not travel. Consult Immigration Services prior to setting any travel plans.
  • Keep in mind that you must be able to demonstrate nonimmigrant intent (i.e., that your stay in the US is intended to be temporary and you intend to return abroad rather than remain in the US at the end of your J-1 program). You must maintain residence in a foreign country that you have no intention of abandoning.

  • H-1B’s Form I-797 Notice of Action—Approval Notice
  • Copy of I-129 petition for H-1B Nonimmigrant Worker
  • J-1 Waiver Approval Notice (a different Form I-797 Notice of Action), if applicable
  • H-4’s Form I-797 Notice of Action/Approval Notice, if applicable

Consult Immigration Services

Plan ahead and allow ample time for visa processing. Lengthy administrative processing, including security checks, can delay visa issuance by several weeks or even months. It is generally recommended that you apply for a visa in your home country. Although some US Consulates and Embassies allow third country nationals to apply for visas under some circumstances, individuals could encounter problems. If you are delayed or denied a visa, you will not be allowed to reenter the US. You will either have to wait until the visa is approved or return to your home country directly to reapply for a visa there. If you are required to prove nonimmigrant intent based on your nonimmigrant status (e.g., J-1/J-2), it could be difficult to obtain a US visa outside your home country.

For information about visa fees, period of visa, specific types of documents accepted for visa issuance (e.g., birth or marriage certificates), and issuing posts for a particular country, go to http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/fees/fees-reciprocity-tables.html.


Reminder for J-1s and J-2s: J-1s & J-2 dependents must have the intention to return to their home country upon completion of the J-1 program and maintain a residence abroad to which they intend to return. They cannot have the intention to stay in the US permanently or indefinitely. The question of intent may come up when applying for a J-1 or J-2 visa, entering or reentering the US in J-1 or J-2 status, or applying to change to J-1 or J-2 status from within the US. If you may be marrying a US citizen or permanent resident (or someone who is applying for either) or planning to apply for US permanent residence within 90 days of entry or reentry to the US in J status, consult a qualified US immigration attorney prior to applying for a J visa or entering or reentering the US in J status.

How early you may initially arrive in the US

There are specific limits on how early nonimmigrants may initially arrive in the US:

J-1 Exchange Visitors may enter the US up to 30 days before the J-1 program start date, but may not begin any work until the official J-1 program start date has been reached and the J-1 has reported to Immigration Services/Human Resources to complete the necessary procedures to start work.

H-1Bs may enter the US up to 10 days before the approved H-1B start date, but may not begin work until the approved H-1B start date and the H-1B has reported to Immigration Services/Human Resources to complete the necessary procedures to start work.

Consult Immigration Services

Dependents may not enter the US prior to the principal nonimmigrant. If they will arrive in the US after the principal nonimmigrant, consult Immigration Services.

What to carry on your person for entry/reentry to the US

  • Passport—valid for at least 6 months from when you enter/reenter the US
  • Valid J-1 (or J-2) visa (stamp/sticker) issued by a US Consulate or Embassy
  • Valid Form DS-2019
    • The J-1 must sign and complete the Exchange Visitor Certification section at the bottom of his/her DS-2019 and the DS-2019s of any J-2 dependents
    • For continuing Js, it must be signed for travel by the (Alternate) Responsible Officer in Immigration Services at the bottom right within 1 year from the date of return to US
  • SEVIS fee receipt printout (required for initial entry; recommended for reentry)
  • Previously issued Forms DS-2019, if applicable (recommended; copies usually okay)
  • If changed status to J-1 (or J-2) within the US, Form I-797 Approval Notice
  • Evidence of J-1 employment/appointment at Salk, such as a recent offer letter from Human Resources or verification letter from Immigration Services/Human Resources. For J-1s not solely funded by Salk, also carry a recent letter from financial sponsor (required for initial entry; recommended for reentry).
  • Credentials (e.g., diploma and/or transcripts for required level/field of education, licenses, or certificates)—copies are usually okay, but Canadians should carry original documentation for initial entry
  • For J-2s:
    • Marriage or birth certificate showing relationship to J-1 (recommended—original recommended for Canadians for initial entry; copies usually okay otherwise)
    • If traveling without J-1, carry copies of J-1’s immigration documents (recommended)

  • Passport—valid for at least 6 months from when you enter/reenter the US
  • Valid H-1B (or H-4) visa issued by a US Consulate or Embassy
  • H-1B’s Form I-797 Notice of Action/Approval Notice
  • Previously issued Forms I-797, H-1B (or H-4) Approval Notices, if applicable (recommended; copies usually okay)
  • Copy of I-129 (H-1B) petition packet (recommended)
  • Evidence of H-1B employment at Salk, such as a recent appointment or verification letter from Immigration Services/Human Resources or 2 – 3 most recent Salk paystub printouts. (required for initial entry; recommended for reentry)
  • For H-4s:
    • Marriage or birth certificate showing relationship to H-1B (recommended—original recommended for Canadians for initial entry; copies usually okay otherwise)
    • If traveling without principal H-1B, carry copies of H-1B’s immigration documents including valid I-94 card (recommended)

Consult Immigration Services

Do not pack your immigration-related documents in checked luggage! If any of your immigration documents have been forgotten, lost, or stolen, (re)entry to the US may be problematic.

What to carefully check upon admission to the US

Effective April 30, 2013, CBP no longer issues paper I-94s to nonimmigrant foreign nationals at air (and sea) ports. If an automated (not paper) I-94 record was created for you upon entry to the US, you may obtain your Admission Number and print out your electronic I-94 record from the CBP webpage: www.cbp.gov/I94. Note that CPB will continue to issue a modified paper version of the I-94 at land border crossings into the US from Mexico and Canada and in special cases.

Make and keep copies of your current immigration documents (i.e., passport, visa, I-94, I-797 Notice of Action, etc.) each time they are updated, including each time a new I-94 record is created for you upon readmission to the US. Please also provide a copy of any new immigration documents to Immigration Services.

Applying for Admission to the US

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). CBP officers must screen all arriving people, goods, and vehicles to make sure they meet all requirements for entry into the United States. J-1s may wish to review the CBP Arrival Procedures for Students or Exchange Visitors and the CBP Know Before You Visit info center.


Before entering another country, contact that country’s consulate or embassy for entry requirements. Additional information about each country’s consulate or embassy within the US can be found here and here. You may need to obtain a visa to enter that country depending on your country of citizenship and/or the purpose of your visit.

Immigration Services can provide a letter verifying your employment or appointment at Salk. Please notify Immigration Services of your travel dates and plans in advance if you would like a verification letter. If there have been any changes in your employment, such as job title, location, duties, or J-1 funding source(s), consult Immigration Services as far in advance as possible prior to traveling.

What to do upon departure from the US

Don’t forget to bring the immigration-related documents you will need for reentry to the US!


Visiting Canada
Canada has introduced a new requirement, Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), for foreign nationals who are visa-exempt for Canada and will enter Canada by air. To find out if you need to obtain ETA or a visa to visit Canada, see http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp.

Visiting Mexico
Mexico has recently formalized immigration and customs control at the Puerta Este Mexico-San Ysidro pedestrian entry into Tijuana and is in the process of formalizing controls for other means of entry (e.g., by automobile) and other points of entry into the Mexican state of Baja California. To find out if you need a visa to enter Mexico, see http://consulmex.sre.gob.mx/sandiego/index.php/visas. Note that many questions remain unanswered and US visa renewal procedures and processing times at the US Consulate in Tijuana have changed.