IENA encourages travel at the end of your program. There’s lots to see and do in the US!
We do not recommend exiting the US and re-entering at the end of your program, even if you have a valid visa and DS 2019. If you leave and return within a few days of your program end date, there’s a chance the border officer will not re-admit you and you will have to immediately fly home. In that case, there’s nothing that IENA can do to help you.
We get a lot of inquiries regarding cruises, and whether or not a cruise is considered “travel outside the US.” Each cruise is unique and you should always check with the cruise line to see whether you will be allowed to board with your current passport/visa before you book the cruise.
Most cruises beginning and ending in the U.S. are considered “Closed Loop:” vessels that depart a US port and return to the same US port upon completion of the voyage. For instance, if you board a cruise ship at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and after visiting at least one foreign port of call, such as Bermuda, or Cancun, and return back to Fort Lauderdale, you have taken a closed loop cruise.
If, on the other hand, you – say – board a cruise ship in San Diego, California, sail through the Panama Canal (stopping at a foreign port during the cruise), and end the cruise in Miami, Florida, you have not taken a closed loop cruise and will need to pass through US immigration upon your return to port.
Exchange visitors who travel outside the US during the 30 day grace period at the end of their program will not be re-admitted to the US in J-1 status.