Travel Information

Receiving ISSS Approval for a Travel Signature

Scholars are now required to receive approval from International Student and Scholar Services before traveling.  Before coming to ISSS for a travel signature, you must complete the Scholar Travel Signature Request e-form in the iHawk system.  You will find the e-form in the J-1 Scholar Services section. You are also required to check in with ISSS upon returning after every trip outside the U.S.

Restrictions on Travel Outside the U.S. More Than 30 Days

Scholars cannot be absent from the U.S. for more than 30 days for personal reasons.  If there is a need to be absent more than 30 days for research or work related to the University of Iowa employment, permission must first be granted by ISSS via the Scholar Travel Signature Request e-form above.  Valid reasons for travel beyond 30 days include:

(1) Travel for participation in a conference abroad
(2) Travel for research consultation with scholars overseas
(3) Travel to conduct research abroad related to a University of Iowa project

Scholars absent more than 30 days for this reason cannot leave J-2 dependents behind in the U.S.; the J-2 dependents will have to leave with the scholar.  Scholars considering extended leave from the U.S. should consult with an ISSS advisor.

Important Documentation

Travel Signature on DS-2019

  • Make sure your DS-2019 (for J-1 and J-2 status) has been signed in the travel authorization section by an ISSS adviser within 12 months of your expected return to the U.S. (and within 6 months if a short-term J-1 scholar). Travel signatures are valid for up to 12 months or until the completion of your scholar program, whichever comes first. If there have been changes in your situation (source of financial support, etc.) that are not reflected on your current DS-2019, please see an ISSS advisor so that we can update your DS-2019 appropriately.

Valid Passport

  • The United States requires foreign visitors to maintain passports that are valid for at least six months into the future. This is because the U.S. wants some form of assurance that the visitor will be able to return to his/her own country once the stay in the U.S. ends or is terminated. Some persons with passports that are expired, or that will soon expire, could face difficulty being admitted into the U.S. Be sure your passport has not expired AND that it will still be valid at least six months after the date you plan to re-enter the U.S. If you need to renew your passport, contact the consulate or embassy representing your home country in the U.S. or the appropriate authorities in your home country.  Please note, however, that the U.S. has made agreements with several countries whereby the passport is considered to be valid for 6 months beyond the expiration date. To check which countries have passports considered valid for 6 months beyond the expiration date, visit the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual. However, ISSS has found that immigration officers at Ports of Entry do not always remember that such agreements exist. For this reason, it may be helpful for you to print and take the list of countries in case you encounter a problem at the Port of Entry.

Valid Visa

  • Be sure that the visa in your passport (1) will still be valid on the date you plan to re-enter the U.S., and (2) still has entries remaining (either has an "M" for the unlimited multiple entries or at least "1" entry left).  If you must renew your visa while outside of the U.S., see the section on Visa Renewal Information.  If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, or a country in the Caribbean and your visa has expired, please also review Automatic Visa Revalidation.

Visas for Other Countries