When preparing to travel abroad for less than 5 months, it is important to ensure entry to another country and re-entry to the U.S. Depending on the country to be visited and the student’s nationality, there may be the need to apply for a visitor’s visa. In order to return to the U.S., a student must have a valid passport, a valid visa and a valid I-20 or DS-2019 that is signed by an OISS Staff member within the past year.
For J-1s, the extension of your J-1 stay does not mean that you will be automatically allowed to enter the US if you were to travel abroad. If you travel abroad with an expired J-1 visa, you will have to apply for a J-1 visa at a consulate in order to reenter the U.S. as an Exchange J-1 visitor.
Current regulations require that those individuals holding nonimmigrant (temporary) visa status turn their I-94 arrival/departure record card when leaving the U.S. Failure to do that will result in the departure not being recorded properly in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) system and the individual being regarded as overstaying his/her authorized stay. This can have serious consequences on future entry into the U.S., visa validity including danger of the individual being returned immediately to the foreign point of origin.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection ( CBP) has issued guidance on how individuals holding nonimmigrant (temporary) visa status can record a departure from the U.S when his/her I-94 arrival/departure record was not collected. If you discover after departure that you are still in possession of your I-94, you should IMMEDIATELY follow the departure validation procedures at: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/i-94_instructions/ .