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During your program

Address Updates

Changing Address in iSTART

All international scholars, faculty, and staff are required to report any residential address changes within 10 days of the change. If you move, please ensure that you take the proper steps to report your new address.

If you are a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign-sponsored J-1 or F-1 status holder:

  • Submit an "Address Update" request through iSTART.
    Note: J-1 or F-1 status holders who are not sponsored by UIUC should report address changes to their J-1 or F-1 program sponsor.
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign employees should also report any address changes through the NESSIE system.

All other status holders should:

  • Submit an "Address Update" request through iSTART.
  • Complete form AR-11 and submit to U.S. Citizen & Immigration Services
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign employees should also report any address changes through the Illinois System website.

iSTART Instructions:

  • Click on “Biographical Information” then “Address Update”
  • You will see the address that is currently being reported, as well as a fillable form allowing you to change this information.
  • Once you’ve updated your address, just click “submit”

Note: Department addresses or PO Boxes are not acceptable.

Changes to your Program

The U.S. State Department expects you to stay with your original objective for coming to the United States. As an exchange visitor, therefore, you are not allowed to change your category, and you are expected to carry out the activity in the field described in section 4 of your DS-2019.

It is sometimes possible to change to a different sponsoring department if your program objective stays the same. The ISSS office must approve such a change BEFORE it takes place. Please consult with the ISSS office if you are considering any change in your original program.

Studying on Campus

If you are a J-1 research scholar, professor, or short-term scholar, you cannot be a full-time student. You are free to take one or two classes-even for credit, but research or teaching must remain your primary activity. If you should decide to become a full-time student, it would be necessary to change to a student immigration status. Also, you may not accept a graduate assistantship unless you are on a student visa.

Income Tax

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the U.S. government agency that collects taxes. As a non-resident J-1 scholar, you need to file forms each year with the IRS and with the State of Illinois, even if you earned no income. It is your individual responsibility to understand and meet your tax obligations. For more information about taxes, please visit the Income Tax page.

Public Charge

"Public charge" is a long-standing feature of U.S. immigration law. By definition, someone who is a "public charge" relies on the U.S. government for financial support. Under immigration law, an alien who is or is likely to become a public charge may be barred from entering the United States, and is ineligible to adjust status (become a green card holder). The use of government funds alone does not necessarily make one a public charge. Rather, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must consider each individual's circumstance when making a public charge determination. More information can be found on the Public Charge page.


General Information

It is important to check all travel documents and expiration dates before leaving the United States.

  • Entry Visa: Your visa must have a remaining entry available on the intended date of reentry to the United States and MUST NOT be expired.
  • Passport: Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future for re-entry.
  • I-94: Please visit to print out an electronic version of your I-94 upon arrival into the United States. If you will be entering the U.S. via land port of entry, you may pre-apply for a new I-94 no more than 7 days in advance of entry.

For more information about traveling as a J-1, please click here
For more information about traveling as an H-1B, please click here

Automatic Revalidation

If you make a trip to Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days and your entry visa has expired, you can normally return to the U.S. without applying for a new visa (see exceptions below). This is true even if you have changed your status in the U.S. and your current status does not match that of the expired visa. Automatic revalidation from Canada or Mexico is applicable to all visa types. Individuals in F-1 and J-1 status are also eligible for automatic revalidation when traveling to adjacent islands of the United States, such as Jamaica.

To qualify for automatic revalidation you must:

  • Have your I-94 in hand -- Do not surrender it when you leave the U.S. If you received an electronic I-94 prior to your trip, print out your electronic admission record from and secure it with your other immigration documents;
  • Have the document which supports your status, (e.g., those in J-1 status must have an endorsed DS-2019);
  • Return to the U.S. from contiguous territory within 30 days or, for J-1s, from contiguous territory or adjacent islands within 30 days;
  • Have maintained and intend to resume nonimmigrant status;
  • Have your expired visa with you, even if it is in an old passport.


  • Nationals of State Sponsor of Terrorism designated countries are not eligible for automatic revalidation. To see the current list of countries whose citizens do not qualify for automatic revalidation, check here:
  • Automatic revalidation cannot be used by individuals who are applying for a visa in Canada or Mexico. You cannot re-enter the U.S. while waiting for your visa, and if the visa is denied, you will not be able to return.
  • Automatic revalidation does not apply if you intend to return to the U.S. in a new status. In this case a new visa must be obtained. See below.


Some ports of call may require visas; be sure to research that information with the cruise line or by contacting the embassy or consulate of that country in the United States. We advise scholars to prepare for taking a cruise in the same way that you would for international travel. Although the cruise may not have a planned stop at an international port, it may travel through international water, or it might need to make an unscheduled stop for mechanical reasons. We recommend you have the following documents:

  • Valid immigration document (DS-2019 with travel signature or I-797)
  • Passport
  • Valid U.S. entry Visa

Domestic Travel

You do not need special papers to travel from state to state or to U.S. territories but you must always carry your immigration documents. This is particularly true while traveling through states along the Mexican or Canadian borders. You could be stopped by immigration officers at any time and be asked to provide your proof of identification.