International Scholar Relations

Arrival Guidelines

“Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.” ~ John Dewey


Date of Entry in U.S.

DHS regulation requires that all beginning (initial) J exchange visitors, and J-2 spouse and dependents enter the U.S. 30 days or less in advance of the applicant’s program start date as shown on the Form DS-2019. The 30-day limitation does not apply to current exchange participants who are returning to continue with their exchange program.

NOTE: you may be refused entry into the United States if you attempt to arrive more than 30 days before the program start date listed on your SEVIS DS-2019 form.

If you will not be able to enter within the 30-day limitation, you must contact the host department immediately. The department will provide a revised offer letter with a new program start and end date to the J-1 RO/ARO, who will amend your program and, in some circumstances, issue a new DS-2019 which will be mailed to you. You do not need to reapply for a new visa.

Complete U.S. Entry Forms

The U.S. Entry Forms that you will need to complete will vary depending on the method of transportation you are using.

If Arriving By Air:
The flight attendants will distribute Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival-Departure Record Forms (I-94). These documents must be completed prior to landing. If you do not understand a form, ask the flight attendant for assistance.

If Arriving By Land or Sea:
The CBP Officer at the port of entry will provide the necessary Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival-Departure Record Forms (I-94) to be filled out upon your arrival.

Entering the U.S. (DS-2019 and J-1 Visa)

When you arrive at the airport of your destination and deplane, follow the airport signs for “non-citizen” entry. At that location, a Department of Homeland Security official will interview you and verify all of your paperwork. See requirements for Entry into the U.S.

Under the US-VISIT Program of the Department of Homeland Security there will be a fingerscan of the two index fingers and a photo will be taken. This procedure applies for most persons arriving in the U.S. Once admitted, you will receive an immigration stamp and you may then proceed to baggage claim and customs.

As a J-1 exchange visitor, you will need a Western University issued DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitors and a valid J-1 visa (the visa stamp in a passport) issued by the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad to enter the U.S. (Canadian citizens need a DS-2019 but do not need a U.S. visa.)

You must also carry the receipt of your paying the SEVIS fee. Please be advised that you may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the begin date on your DS-2019 and not later than 15 days after the begin date.

Once your inspection is complete, the inspecting officer will:

  • Stamp your SEVIS Form for duration of status (“D/S”)
  • Stamp your SEVIS Form for 30 days beyond program end date
  • Return the SEVIS Form

Visa Stamp

The visa stamp shows the latest date on which you can apply to enter this country. It does not determine how long you can stay here. The Visa stamp in a J-1 Exchange Visitor’s passport is like a key — it is for entry only. If the exchange visitor’s visa expires while in the U.S., it will only affect his or her ability to travel outside the U.S. and re-enter. It will not affect their legal status.

Form I-94 – NEW CBP Automation (Updated: May 1, 2013)

On March 27, 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published an interim final rule in the Federal   Register to   automate Form I-94.  The new Form I-94 automation process took effect on April 30, 2013. With the new automated Form I-94 process, the CBP Officer will create an electronic automated arrival Form I-94 record during the admissions process for nonimmigrants entering the United States at an air or sea port, with information already available in various law enforcement databases. A paper Form I-94 will still be issued at the land border ports of entry, and CBP intends to continue to provide a paper Form I-94 to certain classes of aliens, such as refugees, certain asylees and parolees, and whenever CBP determines the issuance of a paper form is appropriate.

Exchange Visitors may retreive a paper copy of I-94 at www.CBP.gov/I94  You will be asked to provide your date of entry, J-1 category, and biographic information.

Duration of Status (D/S)

All Exchange Visitors will have “D/S” (Duration of Status) noted on their Forms I-94 (arrival/departure card.) “D/S” means that your stay is valid for the duration of the J-1 status, which is the actual end date on the DS-2019 form, plus an additional thirty-day grace period. This thirty days is NOT for employment, extensions, or transfers.

Transportation to WesternU

The visiting scholar will need to make his/her own transportation arrangements from the airport to WesternU. Your department supervisor can assist you with these arrangements. Due to varied times of arrival and ports of entry, it may not possible for someone to meet you at the airport or train and bus stations. Keep in mind that our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm and that our offices are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Please email J1Program@westernu.edu  with your date of arrival in the U.S. and that your transportation from the airport and permanent or temporary housing arrangements have been confirmed.

Transportation Options

To arrange rail transportation from Los Angeles International Airport to Pomona, you can call the Metropolitan Transportation Authority at (718) 330-1234 or visit their Web site at http://www.mta.net/

Limousine service from Los Angeles International Airport or Ontario International Airport to Pomona is a safe and comfortable alternative to rail. When you arrive at the airport, go to the information desk and ask for assistance in securing this service. The limousine service can take you directly to downtown Pomona where WesternU is located.

While more expensive, a taxicab is another travel option. The taxi fare from Los Angeles International Airport to Pomona will be approximately $106.00-$118.00, while from Ontario Airport the fare is approximately $22.00. If you can afford it, a taxicab is your best option. Using public transportation in a city you do not know while carrying a year’s worth of baggage is not recommended.

Safety Precautions

While certain situations cannot be prevented no matter what precautions are taken, there are a few things that we suggest you do to decrease the chances of becoming a victim of crime. Do not carry or display large amounts of money or jewelry. Carrying traveler’s checks redeemable for instant cash at most banks or stores or major credit cards such as VISA, MasterCard or American Express is recommended.

It is also recommended that you do not go out alone at night, especially during the first few weeks after you have arrived. It will take some time for you to feel comfortable and to really know your surroundings. If you must go out alone at night, it is better to go with a friend or take a taxi to and from your destination until you become familiar with the area. Many of us abide by this recommendation even though we are familiar with the area.

If you have any concerns regarding your safety, please email: J1Program@westernu.edu.  We are available to discuss your concerns and put your mind at ease.


Updated August 2015