I am coming to us on a J1 scholar and will arrive 2 weeks sooner than the start of my program. Can i enter a city other than where my program is located first to visit family for 2 weeks or do i have to show evidence that i am directly going to the city of my program at the port of entry? Please advise
You can visit family, but you're right. You should have evidence that you are still enrolled in the program, as well as evidence that you plan to travel there before your program starts in case you are questioned by a border official. If you have your living accommodations settled, bring those documents. You may want to book a bus, train, or plane ticket to your final destination before you enter the US.
www.gassonlaw.com - Disclaimer: This a general answer to your legal question. Unless you have a signed engagement letter with me, you should not consider this information to be legal advice.
You can enter in another city, but plan out your trip and carry your itinerary with you in case of questioning at the port of entry.