J-1 Exchange Visitor Tutorial for UC Merced

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					          J-1 Exchange VisitorTutorial
J-1 ExchangeUC Merced School
      Tutorial for
         Administrators and Faculty
  Office of International Affairs
Rebecca Sweeley                     Sukahan ‗Suki‘ Nawaz
Director                            International Student Advisor

Craig Harmelin                      Telisa Gunter
Assistant Director, International   International Scholar Advisor
Affairs & Programs Abroad
                                    John Lara
                                    Office Coordinator

                      International Center
                      Kolligian Library, 101
          J-1 Program Overview
What is the J-1 Exchange Program?

   The purpose of the Exchange Visitor (EV) Program is ―to
   provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in
   educational and cultural programs in the United States and
   return home to share their experiences, and to encourage
   Americans to participate in educational and cultural programs
   in other countries‖ (22CFR 62.1(b)). The J-1 EV Program
   was designed by the U.S. Department of State specifically for
   the academic community as part of the Fulbright-Hayes Act
   of 1961.

   It is a temporary employment visa with non-immigrant intent.
   UC Merced has been designated by the Department of State
   to sponsor J-1 Exchange Visitors for academic research and
   teaching positions.
                  Key Players
• Who administers the J-1 Exchange Program?

   – The U.S. Department of State (DOS): monitors the
     Exchange Visitor Program
   – Department of Homeland Security (DHS): admits Exchange
     Visitors and their dependents; adjudicate immigration
     benefits; and oversees SEVIS
   – Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS):
     online system to track International Student and Exchange
     Visitor information
                     J Visa Categories
     EV Category        Activity/Eligibility          UCM Sponsored                 Maximum Stay

Student               Pursuing full-time studies   Undergraduate                Duration of Studies, plus a
                      leading to a degree or       Graduate                     period of authorized
                      certificate                  UCEAP Reciprocity            Academic Training

Short-Term Scholar   Professor, researcher or
                     person with similar education
                     coming to U.S. for the
                                                                               Max 6 months. Regulations
                     purpose of lecturing,
                                                                               prohibit extensions of stay.
                     observing, consulting,
                     training, or demonstrating
                     special skills.
Specialist            An expert coming to the      Specialist                   1 year. No extension
                      U.S. for observing,                                       beyond 1 year possible.
                      consulting or demonstrating
                      specialized skills or
Research Scholar      Research, observing, or       Visiting Scholar
                      consulting in connection      Post Doctoral Researcher    Max 5 years. Includes time
                      with a research project       S                           spent at another institution
                      directly supervised by                                    in J status.
                      UCM faculty.
                      Common Terminology
•   Scholar : Generally used by OIA to refer to J-1 Exchange Visitors (EV‘s) at
    UC Merced in all categories, except for the J-1 student category.

•   Nonimmigrant: A nonimmigrant (includes J, F, B visa holders) has satisfied
    immigration officials that they do not intend to stay permanently in the United
    States or seek lawful permanent residency (PR). They establish this by
    demonstrating strong ties to their home country (a job, family, property, etc.)
    Anyone who is unable to establish ties to their home country is assumed to
    have the intention of seeking lawful permanent residency (or a green card) in
    the U.S.

•   Begin New Program: Applies to an EV coming from abroad to whom SNS,
    SOE or SSHA offers an opportunity to study, research or teach.

•   Change to J Status: Applies to someone already in the U.S. on another
    non-immigrant visa type but who will need to change to a J-1 in order to
    accept an offer of study, research or teaching.
            Common Terminology (continued)
•   Transfer of J-1 status to UC Merced: (from another U.S. institution) This
    option enables an EV to transfer to UCM to continue a program (study,
    research, or teaching) started at another institution in the U.S. Certain
    restrictions on transferring do apply.

•   Extension of Stay: An EV can apply for an extension of stay if he/she will
    continue with the same program objective and the maximum length allowed
    for the J-1 category hasn‘t been met.

•   Primary Activity/Subject: This is the EV‘s subject of study, research, or
    teaching while at UC Merced. For example, if the EV will teach Biology, the
    specialty within that field must be noted on the DS-2019.

•   Financial Support: The minimum support for a J-1 visa holder is $1,600
    per month; $500 for a J-2 spouse; $300 for each J-2 child. Written
    verification in US dollars is required for financial support not provided by UC
    Merced. Support must be documented either through a copy of the
    accepted appointment/offer letter or verification of personal or government
Is a J visa the right visa?
    The Office of International Affairs must verify that both the scholar and appointment
      (even if unpaid) fit within the regulations and intentions of the J Visa program.

Questions about the appointment:                Questions about the prospective visitor:

1. What will the visitor be doing at UC         1. Where is the visitor now? In the U.S., their
   Merced? Will they be conducting                 home country, another country?
   research, teaching, attending a              2. If they are in the U.S. what is their
   conference, etc.?                               immigration status?
2. How long will the visitor be at UC Merced?   3. Has the visitor been in the U.S. on a J visa
   Is there a possibility that this will be        in the past 2 years?
   extended?                                    4. What is the visitor‘s country of citizenship
                                                   and country of legal permanent residence?
3. How is the visit being funded? Will the
   visitor be receiving a salary? A
   scholarship or funding? Who is funding
   the visit?

  The answers to these questions help to establish whether or not a J
         visa is the best fit for the visitor and appointment.
 Obtaining a J visa: Process Overview
Process overview/timeline
           Starting the Process…
•   After an international candidate is hired and has agreed to the position,
    the visa request should be completed and submitted to OIA.
•   OIA is able to issue the DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange
    Visitor Status). The scholar will need to acquire the J-1 visa stamp in
    order to gain entry into the U.S.
•   The visa request forms and supporting documents should be submitted
    as a complete packet. OIA cannot begin work on the visa documents
    until all materials are received.
•   The request packet should be submitted as early as possible (a
    minimum of 3 months), so that the scholar has ample time to receive
    the visa documents and make an appointment at the nearest US
    Consulate or Embassy. The time it takes to get a visa appointment and
    receive the visa can vary dramatically.
                 The Visa Request Packet
•   The visa request packet contains a form for the scholar to complete
    (Form A) and a form for the school administrator to complete (Form B).
    The forms are available:

               Form A                                   Form B
•   Scholar biographical                •   Appointment dates
    information                         •   Possibility of extension
•   Previous US visa history            •   Funding (if UCM salary)
•   Education/work experience           •   Location of work
•   Financial support information       •   Subject area & description
•   Dependent information (if           •   Supporting documents to
    applicable)                             validate information
•   Supporting documents to             •   Recharge form
    validate this information
In a hurry?
                            Expedited Requests….

•   Requests for expedited visa services need to be approved before submitting
    the visa request packet. This allows OIA to determine if it is possible for the
    scholar to obtain the visa in time before forms are completed and
    documents gathered.
•   There is an additional fee of $50 per visa request for expedited services.
•   While we make every effort to accommodate expedited requests, the wait
    times for appointments or processing at US Embassies or Consulates is
    outside of OIA‘s control.
•   You can find out the approximate wait times for visa appointments and
    processing time by checking: U.S. Department of State: Visa Wait Times
•   If OIA is able to accept an expedite request, we cannot guarantee the
    scholar will make the requested date. Travel delays, visa processing
    delays, and other factors may not always be avoidable.
      Determining eligibility for J program
•   Appointment
     • The J visa is tied to the appointment, or ―program‖ not to the
       individual visa holder.
     • The scholar must have a firm appointment or program that they will
       take part in at UC Merced.
     • The scholar must go through a selection process in order to obtain
       the appointment.
     • The appointment may be paid or unpaid. If unpaid, the scholar
       must show proof of financial support from another source
       (scholarship, home country government, personal savings, etc.)

•   Scholar
     – Pay/financial resources
     – Previous visa history
                                 Health Insurance
Under the U.S. Department of State Exchange           Minimum levels of health insurance coverage
Visitor (J-1) Program, all international                              must provide:
exchange visitors must have health insurance      1.Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per illness
for themselves and for all accompanying
dependents for the entire period of stay in the
                                                  or accident;
U.S. The University must comply with these        2.Deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or
requirements that are a necessary condition of    illness;
the exchange visitor‘s approved stay.             3.Expenses associated with medical evacuation in
                                                  the amount of $10,000;
Any scholar who is not eligible for UC            4.Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500;
Merced benefits, must enroll in an                5.Coverage for pre-existing conditions after a 12-
acceptable health insurance plan as soon          month waiting period;
as possible upon arrival and provide proof        6.Provision for co-insurance/co-payment that does
of coverage to OIA.                               not exceed 25% of the covered benefits per
                                                  accident or illness
Postdoctoral Scholars: Benefits provided
                                                  7.Policy underwritten by an insurance company
through Garnett-Powers Associates
http://www.garnett-                               that meets the rating requirements of the US                      Department of State or backed by the full faith and
Meets all government regulatory requirements.     credit of the home country government,
                                                  designated sponsor, or Exchange Visitor‘s
Other UC Merced Employees: UC Merced              employee group plan.*
provided health insurance does not cover
items #3 & #4 and a supplemental plan must
be purchased.
                   J-1 Visa Application Process
                         (for Scholars obtaining an initial J visa)

•   Once the DS-2019 is sent to the Scholar, the following steps must be taken:

     1. Scholar looks over DS-2019 carefully and alerts OIA if there are any errors or discrepancies.
     2. Scholar goes online to pay the SEVIS fee. This must be done at least 3 days before they
        attend a visa appointment. This fee is mandated by Congress and is used to maintain the
        office and system that tracks exchange visitors and students in the U.S. More information
        can be found here: SEVIS Fee (i901) FAQs
     3. The scholar schedules and attends a visa appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or
        Consulate. Wait times for the appointment may vary and an estimate of the current wait time
        can be found by checking: U.S. Department of State: Visa Wait Times.
     4. At the visa interview, the scholar will present the immigration officer with a set of required
        documents, including their passport and DS-2019. The processing time for receiving the visa
        stamp also varies depending on the consulate or embassy location and some scholars may
        be subject to additional administrative processing.
     5. If approved, the scholar will receive the J-1 visa stamp affixed in their passport. They should
        make sure all of the information is correct on the visa.
     6. Once the visa is received, the scholar is able to travel to the U.S. (as allowed by the visa
        validity dates).
              Immigration documents
•   DS-2019 This document is the scholar‘s ―Certificate of Eligibility for
    Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status‖ and is issued by OIA through SEVIS.
    This certifies that the scholar and the program they have been
    accepted to meet the J requirements set by the US Department of
•    J-1 Visa Stamp: A multicolored stamp affixed on a page of the EV‘s
    passport by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate official outside the U.S. The
    visa stamp is used to gain entry into the U.S> for a certain number of
    times (ranging from one to multiple), and includes and expiration date.
•   Form I-94 (I-94 Card): A small white card stapled in the EV‘s passport
    by the immigration inspector that the port of entry into the U.S. The
    EV‘s immigration status is noted on the I-94 by the immigration
Certificate of Eligibility for
Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status

This document outlines the
EV‘s information and program
data. The EV will take it to the
embassy/consulate to validate
their J-1 Visa application.

This document is printed from
their official SEVIS record. For
any changes to the program, a
new DS-2019 will need to be
The Visa Stamp:
•is used to authorize entry
into the U.S. for a certain            US J- Visa Stamp
number of visits (ranging
from one to multiple), and
includes an expiration date.
•needed for entry into the
U.S. but does NOT
determine immigration status.
•needs to be valid only on
the day of entry or re-
entry to the U.S. A visa
stamp does NOT need to
remain valid during the J-1
exchange visitor’s stay in
the U.S.
•must be renewed only if the
visitor leaves the U.S. with
the intention to return and the
visa stamp will be expired on
the planned re-entry date.
The new visa must be               The visa is a multicolored stamp affixed on a page of the
obtained at a U.S. Embassy        visitor’s passport by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate official
or Consulate abroad before                              outside the U.S.
•is not required for Canadian                 Visas cannot be obtained in the U.S
citizens to enter the U.S.
                                              Front of I-94
Form I-94 (I-94 Card)
The Form I-94 is a small white card (or
green-colored card for WB or WT status)
stapled in the visitor’s passport by the
U.S. Immigration Inspector at the port-of-
entry into the U.S.

This Form I-94 is one of the most
important documents a visitor will
receive because it shows proof of legal
entry into the U.S. and legal
immigration status.
The visitor’s immigration
status is determined by and
noted on the I-94 by the U.S.
                                              Back of I-94
Immigration Inspector.
Duration of Status or “D/S”
For J-1 Exchange Visitors, the Form I-
94 should be marked with the letters
“D/S” which means “Duration of
Status.” Duration of Status authorizes
a J-1 visitor to stay in the U.S. until the
end date noted on the DS-2019 plus
thirty days for “satisfactory departure.”
Payment, exit, and re-entry into the U.S.
in J-1 status during this thirty-day grace
period is not permitted.
J-1 Check-In Process
                              Arrival in the U.S.

•   J-1 Exchange Visitors are allowed to arrive in the U.S. up to 30 days before the start
    of their program. This allowance is meant to give them time to settle in and make
    housing and living arrangements.

•   In order to validate the visa, the international scholar must check in with OIA. This
    also provides them the opportunity to meet OIA staff, become familiar with the
    International Center, and obtain valuable information about the J program.

•   To complete the check-in process, the scholar must present their passport and J-1
    visa stamp, their DS-2019, and if they are not receiving health insurance as part of
    their UC Merced benefits package, proof of adequate health insurance. They will
    also give their current address and sign a J-1 Exchange Visitor Responsibility

•   Once the visa is validated, the program has begun. Any changes in dates must be
    sent as a new visa request through OIA—either to end the program early or extend
    the program.
                         Maintaining Legal J-1 Status
Even if the J-1 visa is valid, failure to comply with immigration laws and
regulations can result in a loss of the J-1 status and have very serious legal
consequences. UC Merced is required to report to the federal government when a
J-1 Exchange Visitor fails to maintain their legal status.

1.The total period of J-1 authorization may not exceed 5 years—this includes any time
previously spent in J-1 status at another institution before transferring to UC Merced.
2. OIA must be notified, in writing, of changes relating to: work location, title, job duties, or
research area prior to the change(s) taking place.
3.OIA must be notified, in writing, of changes relating to: the amount and source of the funding
for the program or changes to the scholar‘s address within 10 days of the change(s) taking
4.J-1 EVs may not accept any employment, on or off campus, which is not listed on the form
DS-2019 without first obtaining written authorization from a Responsible Officer (RO) or
Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) at UC Merced.
5.J-1 EVs and any J-2 dependents must maintain sufficient health insurance coverage
6. Any intent to terminate a J-1 EV‘s affiliation with UC Merced prior to the expiration date of
the form DS-2019 must be immediately reported to OIA.
7.Before traveling outside the U.S. (with the intent to reenter under J-1 status) the EV‘s DS-
2019 must have a valid travel signature (this should be done no less than 2 weeks prior to
                 Maintaining Legal J-1 Status (continued)
8. Requests to extend J-1 status must be submitted by the faculty supervisor or school to OIA
    no less than 2 months prior to the program end date indicated on the form DS-2019.
9. J-1 EVs forfeit their eligibility to transfer or extend their J-1 status if they receive a ―no
    objection‖ letter from the Department of State or a waiver from the U.S. Citizenship &
    Immigration Services in relation to 212(e) (2-year home country residence requirement).
10. Requests to transfer a J-1 SEVIS record must be accompanied by an acceptance letter to
    an academic program or an offer of employment from a new institution.
11. J-2 dependents‘ status is contingent upon the continued validity of the primary EV‘s J-1
    status, and loss of a J-1 legal status as a J-1 EV represents automatic loss of legal J-2
    status for my dependents.
12. If the J-1 EV is absent from the U.S. for an extended period of time, any J-2 dependents
    may not remain lawfully in the U.S.
13. A J-1 EV‘s passport must be valid at all times, for at least 6 months into the future.
There‘s no place like home…

            What happens when the program ends?
When the J-1 program comes to an end some important things to remember are:
•J scholars have a 30 day grace period after the program end date before they must
leave the U.S. This grace period is intended to give them time to tie up any loose
ends, pack, travel within the U.S., and make travel arrangements to leave the U.S.
    –   During this grace period, the scholar is not permitted to work. All work must be
        completed during the program. The program cannot be extended or transferred after
        the program end date. Scholars should not plan to leave and re-enter the US during
        this period.
•The program will automatically end on the program end date and the scholar‘s
SEVIS record will reflect the completed program status.
•Ending early? OIA must be notified if the appointment dates change—for
appointment extensions as well as an early end to an appointment. This can be
done by email, but must include the exact end date and an address to reach the
scholar after the end date.
       Bars, Residency Requirements…
International visitors’ previous visits to the U.S. may impact their options for the future. For this
reason, information about the past visits to the U.S. is on Form A of the DS-2019 Request Form.
OIA will analyze scholars’ previous U.S. history to determine their eligibility to participate in a J-
1 Exchange Visitor program. Listed below are a three federal regulations that critically impact J
Exchange Visitors:

       • 12-Month Bar
       After J Exchange Visitors in any J category complete a program more than 6 months in the U.S., they
            are barred for 12 months from starting a new J-1 “Research Scholar” or “Professor” program.

       • 24-Month Bar
       After J-1 Exchange Visitors in the “Research Scholar” or “Professor” categories complete their
            programs in the U.S., they are barred for 24 months from starting a new J-1 “Research Scholar” or
            “Professor” program.

       • Two-Year Home Residence Requirement
       The two-year home residence requirement prevents a J Exchange Visitor who is subject from returning
            to the U.S. for 2 years as an H, L, or PR status. J Exchange Visitor may or may not be subject to
            the “two-year home residence requirement’ due to: 1) government funding or 2) the skills list.
            Exchange Visitors who have received a waiver of the two-year home country physical presence
            requirement cannot be granted a transfer or extension of their J-1 Exchange Visitor program.
                                          J-1                                                                        H-1B
Purpose and     Exchange opportunities in research, lecturing, and          Temporary employment in a specialty occupation requires highly specialized
Eligibility     access to cultural and educational programs                 Position requires B.A/B.S. or higher degree in a related area
                Not for tenure-track                                        Mostly for academic titles (e.g. tenure track teaching and research appointments)
Duration        3 weeks- 5 years, some restrictions for certain             6 year maximum
                categories                                                  Initial approval for up to 3 years, with possibility to extend an additional 3
                                                                            UC Merced requires 3 years of funding to sponsor
                DS-2019 academic and financial certificate of eligibility   I-797 approval notice issued by USCIS
Requirements    issued by the sponsoring institution                        Requires certification from Department of Labor and evidence of: employer-employee
                J-1 visitor must pursue academic program objective          relationship; position qualifies as specialty occupation; B.A./B.S. at minimum (Ph.D. for
                and engage in appropriate activities                        postdoctoral positions); salary meets the prevailing wage, benefits commensurate to
                Sponsor and J-1 visitor must comply with Department         those offered to U.S. workers
                of State and Department of Homeland Security
                regulations                                                 Material changes in employment (e.g. change in location, job duties, or salary) require
                Mandatory health insurance requirement.                     a new or amended petition
Immigrant       Nonimmigrant intent                                         Dual intent is allowed, such as intent to be employed temporarily in the U.S. and intent
intent?                                                                     to file an immigrant visa petition
Transfers       Transfer to another J-1 sponsoring institution may be       Change of employer requires filing of a new petition
                possible                                                    Employee can begin work and get paid after the change of employer petition is
                                                                            received by USCIS
Outside         J-1 visitor may receive compensation from the DS-           Employees are not eligible for honorariums. In some cases employees can be
Employment      2019 sponsoring institution provided activity is within     reimbursed for travel costs
                academic program objective                                  Employees can work part-time for more than one employer, but each employer must
                J-1 visitor needs to check with program sponsor about       file a separate H-1B petition
                outside payment authorization
Dependents      J-2 status for spouse and children under 21                 H-4 for spouse and children under 21
                J-2 dependents may apply for an employment                  H-4 dependents are not eligible for work authorization
                authorization document (EAD)
Other factors   12 and/or 24 month bar may apply                            Employer cannot place employees on unpaid leave for lack of work
                2 year home residency requirement (212(e)) may              Employer must pay for return transportation if the employment is terminated
                apply                                                       prematurely
Cost            Starting from: $410 initial fee, $200 extensions            Starting from: $3,325
Processing      Estimated 2- 4 months                                       Estimated 4 to 6 months (8 weeks if premium processing is used)

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