Situation: I am a Mexican citizen currently living in the US with a valid J1 work visa as an exchange scholar. My DS-2019 has been extended until 2022 and my visa expires at the end of August this year. I-94 is valid while DS-2019 is valid.

Question: I'd like to go to Mexico for medical reasons. Can I cross the land border from Mexico into the US with my current status? In other words, am I an essential traveller? In case it matters, I would like to cross to/from Tijuana or Tecate.

Update Aug. 19: I crossed the border yesterday in my car. Had no trouble at all. Just bring your passport, visa and DS-2019.

1 Answer 1


You are considered an individual who is "traveling to work in the United States", which falls under "essential travel". The US only cares about why you are entering the US, and not why you left.

You can also contact the port of entry ahead of time just to reassure yourself: for example, if crossing from Tijuana into San Ysidro, the contact information for the CBP office is here: https://www.cbp.gov/contact/ports/san-ysidro-class

  • 1
    Thank you very much for your response. I've tried calling the San Ysisdro office a few times (weeks apart) and they only have a recording. I think it's impossible to get a hold of anyone there; it's one of the busiest border crossings in the world after all. However, an officer from the Tecate office told me the only restriction was for tourism, while another one in Calexico was very noncommital. I think this is the sensible answer, but really want to double check before making the move. Aug 10, 2021 at 18:30
  • @EssentialTravel Yes, as far as I know, the only restriction is that tourism, visiting friends, etc are not permitted (and even then, they are still permitted for US nationals and LPRs, who are considered to be returning home to the US, possibly for a brief period). Everything I've seen so far has been consistent with this.
    – Brian
    Aug 10, 2021 at 18:33

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