Know Your Documents: The J-1 Visa, DS-2019, DS-7002, I-901, and I-94

Filed in J-1 Regulation Explainers by on September 19, 2014 20 Comments

As you may have noticed, there are many documents that correspond with your immigration status as a J-1 visa holder. It is important to know what these documents do, even if you do not know what all of the names stand for (hint: “DS” stands for “Department of State,” the government agency responsible for administering the J visa). Below, I have listed some of the most important documents, with a brief description of the purpose of each form. At the end of the article, I answer some common questions that I receive from J-1 visa holders about how to interpret the information on the documents.

Here’s everything you need to know about these documents:

  • J1VisaJ-1 Visa: This is the visa that the Consulate places in your passport. This document gives you permission to seek entry to the United States at any port of entry whether it is by land or air. The dates listed under “Issue Date” and “Expiration Date” are the dates between which you are allowed to seek entry to the United States These dates do not need to match the program dates listed on the DS-2019 form. (Note: Canadians do not receive a J-1 Visa in their passports, but for entry purposes the DS-2019 replaces the physical visa stamp.)


  • DS-7002 Page 1DS-7002: This is the official training plan for the period of the training program or internship. The same form is used for both trainees and interns. This form describes exactly what will take place during the program and should be adhered to strictly. Any changes to the plan should be cleared with the program sponsor before they are put into place.


  • I-901I-901: This is the electronically generated copy of the SEVIS fee receipt. This form is a proof of payment of the $180 SEVIS fee. The SEVIS fee is paid prior to your visa appointment at the United States embassy or consulate; you should bring this form with you to your visa appointment and submit it with the rest of your paperwork.


  • DS-2019DS-2019: This is the Certificate of Eligibility that corresponds with your record in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This document informs the visa officer at the United States embassy or consulate that the bearer (the J-1 visa applicant) has been granted visa sponsorship by a designated sponsor, such as the American Immigration Council. This form is required to be presented to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the time of entry into the United States. The program dates listed in box 3—sometimes called the program start and program end dates—are the dates between which the training program or internship can take place. If you believe that these dates are incorrect, you should contact the American Immigration Council officer who issued you the form to have the information changed and obtain a new corrected version of the DS-2019. There is a 30-day grace period before and after the dates listed in box 3, during which the holder may visit friends, travel the country, get settled or wrap things up with living arrangements, etc. There may not be any training or interning during these grace periods.


  • I-94: This is your arrival and departure record. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) records the dates of your most recent admissions into the United States, and issues you an I-94 Admission Number each time you enter the country. This document is located online, and can be found here. You should check the time period of your I-94 status.  Most J-1 visa holders are admitted into the United States for “Duration of Status.”  This means until the end date on your DS-2019 form plus the 30-day grace period.  However, sometimes the I-94 will show a specific date by which you must leave the United States or give a set number of days you can be in the country.  If your I-94 status does not show “Duration of Status,” you should contact your sponsor, the American Immigration Council, immediately.

Common questions about how to use these documents:

When does my 30-day grace period begin?

The final 30-day grace period begins on the last day of your internship or training program, the program end date described in box 3 of the DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility.

The dates on my J-1 visa are different than the dates on my DS-2019. Which dates should I follow?

The dates on your J-1 visa determine the period during which you can request admission to the United States at a United States customs point of entry. The visa lets you enter the country, kind of like a ticket at a movie theater. The J-1 Visa does not tell you how long you can remain in the United States. In comparison, the dates on the DS-2019 (the program dates in box 3) determine how long you may remain in the United States once you are present in the country. If you leave the United States with an expired visa, then you may not reenter the country until you have applied for and received a new visa in your country of residence. Even if your program end date on the DS-2019 did not pass, an expired visa  will mean no entry.

What happens if I leave the United States during my 30-day grace period?

If you leave and attempt to return during your 30-day grace period, you will likely be refused entry to the United States. You may not use the remaining days of the grace period at a later date. Essentially, leaving during the grace period ends your J-1 status, even if the visa expiration date has not passed.

My visa expires later than the program end date on my DS-2019. Can I reenter the United States as a tourist after my trainingprogram/internship ends?

When a J-1’s training program or internship has ended—or, in other words, the program end date in box 3 of the DS-2019 has passed—he or she is automatically placed into “Inactive” status in SEVIS, which functionally ends the validity of the visa. The visa is only valid during the time period between the program start and end dates on the DS-2019. Even if your visa expiration date has not passed, you will not be admitted to the United States unless your training program is active.

All of this is too confusing. Can you explain it in a simpler way?

In short, if you are a J-1 Trainee or Intern who is already present in the United States, you are legally allowed to remain in the country for 30 days beyond the program end date on your DS-2019, regardless of the dates listed on your J-1 visa in your passport. If you do not leave the United States for travel abroad during your training program or internship, then it does not matter if your J-1 visa expires, since you will not be requesting reentry into the country.

If you leave the United States with an expired visa, you will not be allowed to reenter the country until you obtain a valid visa at a United States embassy or consulate in your country of residence. If you leave the United States during your 30-day grace period, you will not be able to reenter the United States on your J-1 visa.

I hope this answers some common questions and hopefully clarifies the purposes of your multiple documents. Also important to remember is that you must obtain a Travel Validation signature if you plan to leave and reenter the United States during your J-1 program. For more on traveling outside the United States as a J-1 visa holder, read our previous post on the topic.

I receive many questions every day about how the different documents work together to manage your immigration status, in addition to questions about other important visa-related topics. If you have questions that were not answered here, feel free to email and we will get back to you about your specific situation. Also, read our FAQs page for the most recently updated information


  • ajinkya pitre

    I got my J1 visa for my internship . The internship start date was 1-1-2015 to 30-12-2015. However I could not make it in time so I requested my host organization for a change in the internship dates. The dates have been changed to 4 th Feb 2015 to 2 nd feb 2016. I also received an updated D’s 2019 and D’s 7002 document. Will I need a new visa now ??

    • no you don’t. But if you leave the country after your stamp expire, you can’t go back.

  • Ismael Rohmann

    I have a question with regards to the 30 day grace period before my internship. I have the consular appointment for my J1 Visa on Thursday in Matamoros, Mexico. Since this city shares a border with the United States, I was wondering if I could enter the U.S. two days before my appointment using my “B1/B2 Border Crossing Card Visa” or am I not able to do so within the grace period even if not entering with the J-1 Visa.

  • Jenni

    Can I enter the US before my DS-2019 starts (with a valid J1) and stay in a different city for a few days before I go to my work placement city?

  • Swats

    the place of birth is different in my passport and DS-2019 & DS-160.
    Will it create any issue?

  • siva kesava

    in My ds-2019 for the progrma start data is mentioned as jan 16th, once i got the visa after attending the embassy, can i change this start and end date on ds-2019 form??

    • Hello Siva,

      We encourage you to reach out to your current sponsor of your J-1 program for information for information regarding changes in your program dates.

  • Hari Ram

    Urgent information needed.

    I am working as a post doctoral researcher.

    I am on J1 visa which was subjected to 2 year home residency requirement. I got the waiver for this requirement. Before applying for the waiver, I extended my DS-2019. After the waiver I also filled I-485 which is currently pending.

    Since I already have the J1 waiver and filled the I-485, I know I cant extend my current postdoc contract beyond the expiration date of the current DS-2019 form.

    But is it ok to extend my current postdoc contract (expiring on 31 January, 2017) with the university within the expiration date of the current DS-2019 form (valid till Nov., 2017).

    My DS-2019 is valid till November, 2017 and my J1-Visa stamped in the passport valid just one more week (31st January, 2017). My I-485 is still pending and have not received EAD yet. I would greatly appreciate your response. Thanks.

    • Hello Hari,

      We encourage you to reach out to your current sponsor of your research program for information as to how to proceed.

      Thank you for stopping by our blog!

  • Naveen Nagiah

    I used a DS2019 to work as postdoc in USA between 2014-15 and my DS2019 was valid till Jan 2017.
    I left US in March 2015 and worked in Europe for 18 months.
    Presently I have a job offer from the US and the university is asking me to extend my expired DS2019 until march to process my visa.
    Is there any other way around this?

    • Hi Naveen,

      Thank you for reading our blog and your comment!

      With regards to your unique situation, we encourage you to reach out to your sponsor of the Post-Doc J-1 you participated in. They will be the most knowledgeable about your situation and the best course of action for you to take.

  • Hmw11m

    If I dont leave State during the 30 days beyond expiry date of DS 2019, because my child still in the middle of semester and need more than 2 months .
    is there any problem
    Other question:
    When I issue my J1 visa, I was having B visa (tourism)for 5 years, do they cancel it at time of issuing J1 or not.

    • Hello,

      All exchange visitors are required to depart the United States within 30 days of the completion of their exchange program.

      If you are currently being sponsored by the American Immigration Council for your J-1 training or internship, please email us at We will be happy to discuss your situation further with you.

      If you are not sponsored by the Council, please contact your sponsor. You can find their contact information in Box 7 of your DS-2019.

  • Yaowei Xu

    Hi, the school that I will be going exchange on has applied for a DS2019, but I already have a valid ESTA. Do I still need to apply for J1? Will the custom officer know I have applied for ds2019?

    • Hello Yaowei,

      Please contact the school who has provided the information for your DS-2019. They will be the most knowledgeable about your particular status and program, and will be able to give you the best advice.

  • Minami Yaotome

    The university which I’m going to have a research internship has already given my DS-2019. Problem is my city of birth is wrong. They have mistakenly wrote my middle name instead of my city of birth. Should ask for a new ds-2019 with the corrected city of birth?

    • Hi Minami,

      Yes, you should reach out to the school and ask for an updated document. Your DS-2019 must match your passport information. Please contact the school who issued your DS-2019 to obtain a new document before you attend the embassy interview.

  • Toolikachauhan

    Hi I am on J1 visa will be traveling in June 2017 . I am interested in taking my cat along . Is there any problem carrying pet on J1 visa

    • Hello,

      Please reach out to your program sponsor for additional information regarding your program dates, grace periods, and whether or not you may bring your pet. Best wishes!

  • Toolikachauhan

    On my visa dates mentioned same as my DS2019 . That’s my program start and end date . How many days In advance I can travel