Documents Needed to Travel (Scholar)

Traveling soon? Learn what documents you will need to bring and show immigration when you return.

Travel Documents
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Before You Travel

Columbia’s Global Travel website centralizes information and tools for all members of the Columbia community whose study, research, or teaching involves international travel.

In this recent time of uncertainty and concern over travel, their list of best practices for nonimmigrant visa holders traveling abroad is especially useful.

If you are entering the U.S. for the first time as a Columbia scholar, visit our Entering the U.S. page for scholars.

If you're traveling to a country other than your home, check the website of your destination's embassy to see their visa requirements for visitors.

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Documents Needed to Re-Enter the U.S.

  • Unexpired passport
  • Unexpired visa (Canadians are exempt from visa requirement)
  • Unexpired DS-2019 with travel signature (valid for 12 months)
  • SEVIS Fee Receipt
  • Evidence of continued employment (if you are working for Columbia)
  • Visiting Scholar Designation letter (if you are a Visiting Scholar)
  • Unexpired passport
  • Unexpired visa (Canadians are exempt from visa requirement)
  • Evidence of continued employment
  • Copy of Form I-797 Approval Notice for H-1B/O-1 status
  • Copy of Columbia's I-129 Petition H-1B/O-1 status
  • Sponsor letter from academic department
  • Unexpired passport
  • Unexpired visa (Canadians are exempt from visa requirement. Mexican TNs do need a visa)
  • Evidence of continued employment
  • Department letter offering TN employment including length of continued employment. TNs may be admitted for 3 years
  • Educational credentials required for the TN profession
  • Unexpired passport
  • Unexpired visa
  • LCA (Labor Condition Application)
  • Sponsor letter from hiring department
  • Copy of E-3 I-797 Approval Notice,
  • Copy of E-3 I-129 Petition, if a petition was filed on your behalf with USCIS. Not common

 

Are you traveling to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands? Go to Exceptions to the Valid Visa Requirement.

Do you need a new visa or is your visa expired? Read our page on how to get a new visa.

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Dependents of Scholars: Documents needed to re-enter the U.S.

Look at the dropdown menus below to see what documents your dependent(s) must have in order to re-enter the U.S. Each visa dependent (spouse and children) must carry his/her original documents

  • Dependent's unexpired passport
  • Dependent's unexpired J-2 visa
  • Unexpired J-2 DS-2019 with a valid travel signature

If dependent is traveling without principal:

  • Copy of principal's J-1 visa
  • Copy of principal's most recent I-94 arrival/departure record as evidence of J-1 status in the U.S.
  • Copy of principal's DS-2019
  • Dependent's unexpired passport
  • Dependent's unexpired visa (H-4 / O-3 / E-3

If dependent is traveling without principal:

  • Copy of principal's H-1 / O-1/ E-3 visa
  • Copy of principal's most recent I-94 arrival/departure record as evidence of status in the U.S.
  • Copy of Form I-797 Approval Notice for H-1 and O-1. E-3s will have an I-797 only if an E-3 petition was filed, which is not common.
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Documents Recommended for Travel Within the U.S.

Domestic travel includes travel to any of the 50 states or travel to the U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands).

When traveling within the U.S. (even if you’re not crossing any borders or traveling by air), we recommend that you travel with your passport and other immigration status-related documents.

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Travel FAQs

If a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer determines your documentation is incomplete, you may be issued a Form I-515A and a date-specific I-94 card for admission in J-1 status. This will grant you only 30 days instead of the usual duration of status (D/S). To have your legal status extended: 

1. Follow the instructions on the I-515A

2. Submit the required documents before the expiration date of the I-94 card.

3. Visit us as soon as possible with an I-515. We will assist you with the documentation you need.

Sometimes scholars are sent to secondary inspection so that a port of entry officer can verify your status.

If you are sent to secondary inspection on multiple occasions, it may be helpful to file a report through DHS Trip.

Yes, if you don’t have an entry visa for you current status, your dependents won't be able to obtain a dependent visa. You must obtain a visa for your current status first.