Career Opportunities

Visa & Travel

Traveling Outside the U.S.

Before entering another country, contact the country's Consulate or Embassy to obtain a visa if one is required for citizens from your country of citizenship or lawful residence. Many factors affect whether you need a visa and how long it will take you to obtain one. These factors include, but are not limited to, the purpose of your visit; the relationship between your country and the country you plan to visit; your current visa class or status in the U.S.; and your previous visa history with the country you plan to visit.

The Immigration Services team can provide an employment verification letter stating that you are in valid immigrant status, and your position at the Center or SCCA (e.g. Research Associate). Please alert the Immigration Services team of your travel plans in advance so a travel letter may be prepared.

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Obtaining a New Visa

If you will be traveling outside the U.S. and the visa stamp in your passport has expired, you will need to obtain a new visa stamp one at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad prior to reentering the U.S. A visa cannot be obtained from within the U.S. Visa stamps are not required for Canadian citizens.

To apply for a new visa, foreign nationals should take the following:

  • A valid passport
  • Form DS-2019 if a J-1 Exchange Visitor
  • Form I-797 if in H-1B, E-3, or O-1 status
  • Evidence of financial support
  • Consulate support letter from the Immigration Services team
  • Documentation of ties to your home country

For more information regarding additional necessary documents or paperwork, consult the website for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that you will be visiting. Allow ample time to make the visa appointment and receive your visa stamp. Visa holders can check current visa wait times, determined by U.S. consulate location.

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Applying for a Visa to the U.S. in Canada or Mexico

Although it is usually best to apply for a visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country, it may be possible for you to travel to Canada or Mexico to obtain a visa in your passport. As information is subject to change, we advise you to check for updated information at the State Department's Website. Not everyone is eligible to apply for a visa at a Consulate in a third country. You are only eligible to do so if you have never been out of status in the U.S. because you overstayed the terms of your visa. If you remained in the U.S. longer than the period authorized, you are required to apply for a new visa in your country of citizenship.

If you are not a citizen of Canada or Mexico, you must make an appointment to apply for a visa at one of the U.S. Consulates located near the U.S. border in Canada or Mexico. U.S. Consulates are located in Canada at: Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Toronto and Vancouver. Border Consulates in Mexico are in Cuidad Juarez, Matamoros and Tijuana.

Third party nationals wishing to make an appointment for a visa application in Canada or Mexico may do so using the State Department's internet-based appointment system. There is a fee to use this system which must be paid with a major credit card. You may also schedule an appointment in Canada or Mexico by telephone. For appointments in Canada and calling from the U.S., call 1-877-341-2441. From Canada, you may call one of the local numbers in Canada. For appointments in Mexico and calling from the U.S., call 1-800-919-1754. From Mexico, you may call 01-900-849-4949 for charges to appear on your phone bill or 01-477-788-7070 for charges to appear on your credit card. There is a substantial per minute charge for these calls. If you are unable to make a 1-900 call, and wish to charge the call to your credit card, you should call 1-888-840-0032 from a touch tone phone. Be sure to have your credit card number handy.

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Re-Entry into the U.S. – General Requirements

J-1 Exchange Visitors and J-2 Dependents must have the following:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid J-1 visa in passport
  • Current travel signature on Form DS-2019

H-1Bs, E-3s O-1s must have:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid visa in passport
  • Original Form I-797

TNs must have:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid visa in passport (except Canadians)
  • Current letter from the Center or SCCA

If you obtained a travel letter from the Immigration Services team prior to your departure, you may present the document if needed.

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Automatic Visa Revalidation

US Department of State regulations permit certain non-immigrants to re-enter the United States after a 30-day or less visit to Canada, Mexico, or other adjacent islands (other than Cuba) without having to obtain a new visa prior to re-entry. This is called automatic visa revalidation (AVR).

Automatic revalidation applies in two ways.

  1. If you have a visa in your passport that matches your current status, but has expired, that visa is considered to be automatically revalidated to a current date for your return to the U.S.
  2. If you have changed status while in the U.S., and you have a visa that matches your old status (either expired or unexpired), that visa is considered to be automatically changed to a stamp matching the new status and revalidated to a current date for your return to the U.S. even though it is not the same as your current status and has, perhaps, expired.

Individuals seeking to benefit from this provision must retain their I-94 when leaving the U.S. as it is essential for re-entry. In addition, all other travel documents relevant to the particular status (passport, DS-2019 for J-1s, I-797 for H-1Bs etc.) must be carried and properly endorsed. When requesting a travel letter from the Immigration Services Office, please state that you will be using the AVR program so your letter may reflect this.

Individuals traveling on passports issued by Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba may not benefit from this provision. Anyone who is visiting Canada or Mexico in order to apply for a new visa may no longer benefit from automatic revalidation. Please note that persons in H status are only eligible for automatic visa revalidation in Canada and Mexico and not in the adjacent islands. Check the U.S. State Department Website for the most recent information.

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Visa Wait Times

Visa holders can check current visa wait times, determined by U.S. consulate location.

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Security Checks

All visa applicants will undergo security checks. Security checks can delay or even result in the denial of a visa. Because of this, you should apply for the visa well in advance of the date you wish to travel to the U.S. The State Department has its own reasons for running security checks on applicants, and there is no way to predict with certainty who will be subject to these checks. However, you are more likely to be subject to an in-depth security check if you meet one of the following criteria:

  1. You are applying for a visa in a third country.
  2. You are coming from or have traveled in certain countries, including the seven countries on the U.S. State Department’s List of State Sponsors of Terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Experience has shown that persons from Russia and China are also subject to in-depth security checks.
  3. You are engaged either professionally or academically in any of the fields listed on the U.S. State Department’s Technology Alert List ("TAL"). These fields include, but are not limited to: engineering, chemistry, biology, physics, architecture and urban planning.

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