What is a Travel Validation?
A popular question we explain at new teacher orientations … in the CHF Visa and Immigration Booklet … Pre-Arrival and Orientation Manuals … J-1 teacher renewal and extension instruction letters … in CHF videos in English and French.
The Travel Validation is the line on which the visa sponsor (the Cordell Hull Foundation) gives a teacher permission to travel and later re-enter the US, if the visa sponsor opts to give you that permission.
Where is the Travel Validation?
On your DS-2019 form in a box in the lower right-hand corner.
You can easily identify it as the box is labeled “TRAVEL VALIDATION.”
And do those lines have to be signed and dated by the sponsor?
No, the sponsor is not required to sign a travel validation. The reason for the line and date being printed on the form is to give the sponsor the option whether or not to grant an exchange visitor permission to travel.
How long is my travel validation good for?
The instructions in the box under the words “Travel Validation” explain that, as long as you know which category of J-1 visa you are in.
If you are a
(1) summer camp counselor,
(2) summer work/traveler, or
(3) short-term scholar,
you are in the US for LESS than a year.
But if you are a
(1) K-12 teacher,
(2) professor, or
(2) research scholar,
you can stay up to 5 years. So your travel validation is good for one year.
Actually your J-1 visa is only good for one year at a time. If your sponsor took the risk of asking for a longer term on the J-1 visa stamp in your passport, they were doing you a favor: You are only entitled to one year at a time.
The Cordell Hull Foundation often requests a 2 or 3-year term for exchange teachers to save the inconvenience and expense of having to return to the American Embassy in your home country in succeeding years. In order to do you this favor, this makes our job harder, not easier.
However, please know that other sponsors are completely in their bounds to request only one year at a time, which clarifies – on its face – that your visa term is only good for one year at a time. Those sponsors do not have to exert as much time and energy to explain the Travel Validation.
Every year the J-1 visa term has to be approved in the SEVIS database by your visa sponsor. It therefore makes sense that your travel validation would also be good only for one year going forward. And that every year you need a new travel validation in order to continue your visa status and be able to leave and re-enter the country.
What is the date of my travel validation?
The Cordell Hull Foundation usually signs the travel validation on August 15 of the year that you begin, and on August 15 of the second year if you renew, and so on. It means you are cleared to leave the U.S. and re-enter for one year going forward from that date.
To sum up, a J-1 exchange visa sponsor
(1) may or may not sign the travel validation line
(2) is not obligated to request a J-1 visa term of more than one year
(3) issues visa terms for less than one year in 3 categories:
summer work-travel and camp counselor (banned summer of 2020), and short-term scholar.