A valid passport and visa are required for all non-immigrant students. Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the expiration date of your Certificate of Eligibility issued by Purdue University. Exchange students are responsible for maintaining validity of their passports throughout their stay in the U.S. The nearest consulate of your home country will revalidate your passport or issue you a new one if necessary during your stay in the U.S.
Certificate of Eligibility
Once you have been approved to study in the United States and officially admitted to Purdue University, you will receive your Certificate of Elgibility (DS-2019). Your DS-2019 is valid for 30 days before and after your academic program. This means that if you so desire, you can arrive in the United States one month before Purdue's semester begins and depart for your home country one month after the semester ends.
Effective September 1, 2004, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires collection of a one-time fee of $180 to cover operational costs of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Students who receive their DS-2019 for initial entry to the U.S. must pay the $180 SEVIS fee before they can apply for their J-1 exchange visitor visa.
Obtaining your J-1 Visa
After paying the SEVIS fee, take the SEVIS receipt, the Form DS-2019, valid passport, and evidence of financial support to the nearest U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate to obtain your J-1 exchange visitor visa. When you depart for the U.S. be sure to carry these documents with you. You should also carry original financial documents as proof to support the funding listed on your Form DS-2019. A United States immigration officer will review these items at your U.S. city of arrival.
Entry into the United States
At your U.S. port of entry, you will have to pass through U.S. Customs and Immigration. Immigration officials will check your passport, J-1 visa, SEVIS receipt, and Certificate of Eligibility and activate the Arrival/Departure record (Form I-94) that you will have filled out on the plane prior to landing. The immigration officer will stamp your arrival date and duration of status on the Form I-94 according to the dates listed on your Certificate of Eligibility. The officer will take the Certificate of Eligibility, giving you the pink copy. You should keep this pink copy with your passport and the Form I-94.
Vacation or Emergency Travel Outside the United States
Before leaving the U.S. for any reason during your exchange program at Purdue, check first with the Office of International Students and Scholars (ISS) to make sure your documents are in order. If your visa has expired, you will need a new Certificate of Eligibility to re-enter the U.S. ISS will issue this, but you should make your request at least two weeks before you plan to leave the country. In case of an emergency, it can be prepared more quickly.