Salk Institute
Visa & Travel Information
Visa & Travel Information

DS-2019 (J-1 Exchange Visitors and J-2 dependents only)

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.

SEVIS Fee (J-1 Exchange Visitors only)

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 for information and instructions. J-2 dependents do not have to pay the SEVIS fee, but they do have to pay applicable visa fees.

Obtaining a Visa

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.

What to do before your visa appointment

  • 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

What to present at your visa appointment

  • 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
  • + J-1 Exchange Visitors and J-2 dependents
  • + H-1Bs and H-4 dependents
  • + TN, E-3, or O-1 Status

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

Entry/Reentry into the US

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
  • + H-1Bs
  • + TNs, E-3s, and O-1s
  • + Dependents (e.g., J-2s, H-4s, TDs, E-3Ds, and O-3s)

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

  • + J-1 Exchange Visitors (and J-2 dependents)
  • + H-1Bs (and H-4 dependents)
  • + TNs/TDs, E-3s/E-3Ds, and O-1s/O-3s

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

Upon inspection by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)/Department of Homeland Security (DHS), carefully check the admission stamp placed in your passport. If you are also issued a paper I-94 by CBP, check it carefully as specified below for your particular nonimmigrant status.

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: 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.

  • + J-1s (and J-2 dependents)
  • + H-1Bs (and H-4 dependents)
  • + TNs/TDs, E-3s/E-3Ds, and O-1s/O-3s

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.

What to expect when you arrive in 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.

Traveling Outside the US

Before entering another country, contact that country's consulate or embassy for entry requirements. 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

  • + If you were issued a paper I-94
  • + If you were not issued a paper I-94 and you depart the US by air (or sea)
  • + If you depart the US at a land border crossing to Mexico or Canada and will not be returning to the US to continue in the same nonimmigrant status

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

Traveling to Canada or Mexico

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

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 Note that many questions remain unanswered and US visa renewal procedures and processing times at the US Consulate in Tijuana have changed.

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