Preparation for International Travel
The following documents are required for reentry to the United States after international travel:
- Passport, valid for at least six months beyond the program end date on the most recent Form DS-2019
- Valid J-1 visa (except for Canadian citizens)
- Original Form DS-2019 containing travel signature in “Travel Validation By Responsible Officer” box on lower right side of Form DS-2019
NOTE: Do not place the above documents in your checked baggage! Carry them with you, as you will need to present them to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer upon your reentry to the United States and prior to securing your baggage.
- ECFMG signatures for Form DS-2019 travel validation located in the box on the lower right side of Form DS-2019 are valid for one year or until the expiration date of Form DS-2019 as indicated in Box 3, whichever comes first. As long as you possess a travel-validated DS-2019 that has not yet expired, a new travel-validated DS-2019 is not required for each trip abroad. Only one ECFMG signature is required in the travel validation box, even though there are two spaces for signatures.
- Only Regional Advisors from ECFMG are authorized to sign Form DS-2019 for travel validation.
How to Request a Travel-Validated Form DS-2019 from ECFMG
If a J-1 physician or J-2 dependents have travel plans outside the United States and they are not in possession of a travel-validated DS-2019, they must submit a Request for Duplicate Form DS-2019. ECFMG will process the request within seven to ten business days and send the Form DS-2019 to the physician or Training Program Liaison by regular U.S. mail, unless otherwise instructed. If the physician wishes to receive the travel-validated Form DS-2019 by courier service, she/he must submit a completed and fully signed Request for Duplicate Form DS-2019 and a pre-addressed, pre-paid airbill printed from an on-line source and uploaded through OASIS as a separate document. To pre-pay your airbill, you must include an account number for the express mail service. ECFMG cannot accept credit card numbers for this purpose. Do not enter a credit card number on the airbill or provide credit card information with your request. Due to time constraints and volume of travel requests, ECFMG staff is unable to complete airbills on applicant's behalf.
Please note that the number of requests for travel-validated Form DS-2019s received by ECFMG increases significantly at certain times of the year, such as the end of the calendar year. It is your responsibility to ensure that your request for a travel-validated DS-2019 is received by ECFMG well before your departure from the United States. In addition to the seven to ten business day processing time, you should also allow ample time for ECFMG to mail or express mail the travel-validated Form DS-2019 back to you. If you will be applying for a new J visa at a U.S. consulate, it is vital that you request and receive the travel-validated Form DS-2019 from ECFMG prior to scheduling your appointment at the U.S. consulate.
“Visa” and “Visa Status”
It is important to understand that “visa” and “visa status” are two separate things. A “visa” is the physical stamp affixed to a passport page that permits a foreign national to enter the United States in a specific visa classification. Visas may only be obtained at U.S. consulates outside of the United States. “Visa status” is the legal condition or manner under which a foreign national is present in the United States. Specifically, visa status determines an individual’s purpose for being in the United States and the objectives he or she is authorized to pursue while in the United States, such as training, studying, or working. Upon entry to the United States, a foreign national’s “visa status” is reflected on Form I-94 (Entry/Departure Record) which is issued at the U.S. port-of-entry to every entering nonimmigrant. In the case of physicians sponsored by ECFMG, Form I-94 should always reflect “J-1” status with the notation of “D/S,” which stands for “Duration of Status.” The expiration of the “visa” in a passport will not affect a physician if he or she is maintaining J-1 visa status in the United States. The only time a person requires a valid J-1 “visa” is if he or she is physically outside of the United States and wishes to enter the United States in J-1 status. In order to maintain J-1 visa status while in the United States, a physician must:
- Be in possession of a DS-2019 form reflecting a future expiration date
- Be in possession of Form I-94 reflecting “D/S”
- Undertake training in the ECFMG-approved specialty and host site only; no unauthorized training or employment!
- Maintain health/medical insurance for the J-1 and J-2 dependents which meet the regulatory guidelines as established by the U.S. Department of State
Back to top