J-1 scholars will have their initial contact with a teaching or research faculty in a department. First, the visitor will clarify details of the visit including length of stay, funding arrangements, etc., with the department. The department will then gather certain required information from the scholar and give relevant information to the International Affairs Office (IAO). In turn, the IAO will forward the scholar's information to the Registrar's office where a DS-2019 document will be sent to the scholar so that the scholar may obtain J-1 status.
The DS-2019 form acknowledges that the University has invited you as a scholar to visit the institution, has authorized your visit, and supports your application for J-1 status. The DS-2019 is not a "visa", and a scholar cannot enter the U.S. with the DS-2019 alone; to enter the U.S., the DS-2019 works in partnership with the J-1 visa stamp in the passport.
If you are not currently in J1 status, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee in order to obtain a J visa, enter the US or change to J status or change to J scholar status. OIE will send detailed instructions on paying the fee with your visa document.
Obtaining J status from outside the US.
After receiving the required DS-2019 document from the University and paying the SEVIS fee, make an appointment for a visa interview at a United States Embassy or Consulate. At the visa interview, present the DS-2019 and SEVIS fee payment receipt, along with other required information. For specific information on applying for the U.S. visa at the consulate nearest to you, visit the U.S. Department of State website at http://www.usembassy.gov/.
Dependents (spouse and/or children only) who will accompany the scholar to the U.S. will need to apply for J-2 visas. Children who are J-2 dependents must be legal dependents, under the age of 21, and unmarried. When applying for the J-2 visa(s), take the family's passports with to the U.S. Consulate along with proof of marriage (for the spouse) and birth certificates for each child.
The visa application process can take several days or several weeks, so plan accordingly. If visa processing takes longer than you anticipated, contact the International Affairs Office for advice. It is strongly recommend that you do not enter the U.S. in another status, such as B-1/B-2 tourist. You may have difficulty changing your status in the U.S., and more importantly, the immigration official at the port of entry may not permit you to enter the U.S. without your J-1 visa.
Individuals who are outside of the U.S. and plan to apply for a visa in a country other than their country of citizenship are considered "Third Country Applicants". Only some U.S. Embassies and Consulates will accept applications from Third Country Applicants. Check the website for the Embassy/Consulate that you plan to visit to learn about their policies. http://usembassy.state.gov/
Entering the US
To enter the U.S., you must carry your immigration documents along with your passport and the visa stamp inside of the passport. (Remember to carry the documents on the airplane with you. Do not pack them in your luggage).
Note: Scholars must enter the U.S. with the DS-2019 in order to work at a university. J scholars must enter the US within 30 days before or after the start date on the DS-2019. Even when the timing is tight, scholars may not enter the U.S. on a B visitor visa. Entry by any other means than use of the university's DS-2019 may result in loss of employment eligibility as well as other difficulties with immigration authorities.
Obtaining J-1 status from within the US
Researchers and professors who are in the U.S. in J-1 status under the sponsorship of another Exchange Visitor program may have their sponsorship transferred to a different university. There are limitations to transfer; scholars may only transfer (1) within the same category, (2) if the objective remains the same, (3) if the total time in J status is less than or equal to five years and (4) if the SEVIS record is transferred before the end of the current J program. Current J-1 scholars request the transfer from their current J-1 program sponsor.
Length of Stay Limitations and Conditions
The total stay in the United States for Exchange Visitors in the "Professor or Research Scholar" category is limited to five years. Extensions beyond the 5-year period are not possible. The total stay in the United States for Exchange Visitors in the "Short-Term Scholar" category is limited to six months. Extensions beyond that time are not possible. Short-term scholars may enter and leave the U.S. with some frequency, if necessary.
Privileges of a J-1 Visa
On a J-1 Visa, you may:
- Enter the U.S. and participate in exchange visitor program approved by the U.S. Department of State
- Travel in and out of the U.S. or remain in the U.S. continuously till the completion of your exchange visitor program
- Apply for dependent visas for your spouse as well as unmarried dependent children under 21
- Work legally in the U.S. if work is part of your approved program or if you receive permission to work from the official program sponsor
- Apply for and receive work permits for accompanying relatives
Limitations on a J-1 Visa
On J-1 visa, you must:
- Restrict yourself to studying, working or other wise participating in the special exchange program for which your visa has been approved
- First be accepted as a participant in the program approved by the DOS before you apply for J-1 visa
- Return to your home country for at least two years before you are permitted to get a Green Card or change to another nonimmigrant visa status. This is true if you are an exchange visitor participating in a certain type of program
For further information related to your Visa status, check online at: VisaPro.
Scholars in J-1 status and their J-2 dependant family members are required by law to have health insurance that meets certain minimum coverage standards for the entire duration of their stay. Health insurance may come from the home country provided it meets the J-1 requirements. By government regulation, minimum coverage must provide: up to $50,000 per accident or illness; up to $7,500 for repatriation of remains; up to $10,000 for medical evacuation to the home country; and a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness. Co-insurance must not exceed 25% payable by the Exchange Visitor or sponsor. Acceptable coverage may not exclude risks inherent in the activities of the Exchange Visitor program.
Failure to purchase and maintain Health Insurance will result in termination of your J-1 program status.