Make sure your DS-2019 (for J-1 and J-2 status) has been signed in the travel authorization section by an ISS advisor within 12 months of your expected return to the U.S. (and within 6 months if you are a short-term J-1 scholar). Travel signatures are valid for up to 12 months or until the completion of your scholar program, whichever comes first. If there have been changes in your situation (source of financial support, change of major or level of education for students, etc.) that are not reflected on your current DS-2019, please see an ISS advisor so that we can update your DS-2019 appropriately.
The United States requires foreign visitors to maintain passports that are valid for at least six months into the future. This is because the U.S. wants some form of assurance that the visitor will be able to return to his/her own country once the stay in the U.S. ends or is terminated. Please be advised that if you are here on an expired passport, you are out-of-status and cannot receive J-1 benefits such as Academic Training, program extensions, etc. If you need to renew your passport, contact the consulate or embassy representing your home country (our office can help you locate your nearest home country consulate or embassy).
Be sure that the visa in your passport (1) will still be valid on the date you plan to re-enter the U.S., and (2) still has entries remaining (either has an "M" for unlimited multiple entries or at least "1" entry left). When you intend to renew your visa while outside of the U.S., bring your documents to the OGE for an advisor to review and you will be given a visa re-entry letter to take with you to the consulate.
With a credit card in hand, follow the online instructions.Print out the payment screen to verify your payment. Take the payment verification print out with you to your visa application interview.Retain a copy of the receipt for your records.