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J-1 Pre-Arrival Checklist

We are thrilled about your participation in our J-1 Exchange Visitor program at the Stony Brook University.  Listed below you'll find guidance on scheduling your visa interview, arriving at the port of entry, meeting U.S. Department of State insurance requirements, orientation, check-in, and much more.

Preparing for the U.S.

  • Review the VIS website  for information regarding orientation and intake, J-1/J-2 two-year home country physical presence requirement, maintaining your status, social security numbers, NYS driver's licenses, and more.
  • Review your Form DS-2019  to confirm your personal and program information are correct. If you won't arrive by your program start date, contact VIS to update your DS‐2019. If dependents are coming with you, each of them should have their own DS-2019.
  • Make sure your passport is valid  for at least 6 months after your start date. If any dependents are coming with you, their passports should be valid for 6 months, too.
  • Pay the SEVIS I‐901 fee  at least 3 days before your visa interview. Print the receipt and keep a copy for your records. (Citizens of Canada and Bermuda don't need an entry visa, but they still have to pay the SEVIS fee before entering the U.S.)  More Info
  • Schedule an appointment at the nearest US embassy or consulate  to apply for your visa (except citizens of Canada or Bermuda). Visit to find your nearest consulate and review the documents required for your interview. Upon receiving your visa, please review it for accuracy.    Visit Site
  • Make travel arrangements after you get your visa.  You can enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the start date on your DS-2019 form. Let your department and VIS know when you will arrive.
  • Click here to review the J-1 health insurance requirements.  SBU policy, which complies with federal regulation, requires that all J visa holders purchase SBU coverage for international insurance immediately upon arrival to SBU. There are no exceptions to this requirement.    More Info
  • Get copies of important medical and dental records , x-rays, and prescriptions written in generic terms for you and any accompanying dependents.
  • Get copies of financial documents  that show how you will be supported while you are at SBU. You might be asked for these at the U.S. port of entry.
  • Review your hosting department's invitation letter  for information about program activities, employment details (if applicable), and any program fees.


At the Port of Entry

  • Present your original Form DS-2019 and your valid passport  at the border when you enter the U.S.
  • Make sure the date stamp shows "J-1" and "D/S"  when you receive your passport back from the CBP officer after inspection.
  • Secure your transportation to campus by using one of the following modes of public or private transportation:

Public transportation from New York John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK):

From JFK airport, take the AIRTRAIN to Jamaica station for the  Long Island Railroad (LIRR). The trip to Jamaica station lasts approximately 5 minutes. From the Jamaica station, take the LIRR (Port Jefferson line, eastbound) to the Stony Brook station, about a 2 hour ride. One-way fares range from $9.00 to $12.50, depending on the time of day.

Purchase your LIRR ticket from one of the ticket machines before boarding the train. You may purchase your ticket on the train (cash only) however there is an additional fee on board the train. The ticket machines accept U.S. Currency in small denominations, credit and debit cards.

Public transportation from New York City (NYC):

From Penn Station (34th Street and 7th Avenue), take the  Long Island Railroad (LIRR)’s Port Jefferson line to the Stony Brook station. 

You can also take the  7BUS which offers daily direct service to and from New York City and Queens.

Public transportation from Newark Airport (EWR):

Students arriving from Newark Liberty International Airport, the  New Jersey Transit provides transport from EWR to New York City Penn Station. From New York Penn Station take the  LIRR train to Stony Brook University.

Airport Shuttle Service from JFK Airport:

Stony Brook has partnered with  Super Shuttle to provide transportation services from JFK airport to Stony Brook University at a reduced rate. Reservations can be made online.  Upon arrival, make sure the Super Shuttle representative has your name on a list.

Car Service

Several companies offer individual or shared car service from New York airports to Long Island.  When looking for car service, be sure to research and choose a reputable company.  State and Research Foundation approved car services include  Roadmaster Limousine and  Spartan Car Service.

 When booking private transportation to Stony Brook, be sure to choose reputable companies.  When you arrive at the airport, make sure the car or shuttle service has your name on their list.  Carry the company phone number as well as your receipt if you have prepaid.  If taking a taxi, be sure to use approved airport taxi lines.


After You've Arrived

  • Report to your hosting department at SBU.  Ask your department if you will have any orientations other than with VIS.
  • Attend your required orientation at VIS within 10 days of your arrival , and no later than 15 days after your program start date on your DS-2019. Orientation sessions take place on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. Please complete the Immigration Intake in accessVIS prior to your orientation. We ask that you arrive on time and be prepared to stay for 2 hours. Bring your passport, DS‐2019, I-94 (download and print from  if you entered the U.S. by air or sea), and any other immigration documents. If you have any accompanying J‐2 dependents, bring copies of their documents too.
  • Do not apply for a driver's license or a social security number  until after you have checked in with VIS. Your SEVIS record needs to be activated first.
  • Start your J-1 activities at SBU on your start date as listed on your DS-2019 . If your arrival in the U.S. was delayed, please check with VIS to determine your proper J-1 program start date.