J-1 Exchange VisitorTutorial
J-1 ExchangeUC Merced School
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
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
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
• 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
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.
training, or demonstrating
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.
• 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
• 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 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
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: http://iss.ucmerced.edu/scholars/j-visas
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?
• 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
• 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
• 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 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.)
– Pay/financial resources
– Previous visa history
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
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
powers.com/postdoc/index.htm 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
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
• 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
•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
The visitor’s immigration
status is determined by and
noted on the I-94 by the U.S.
Back of I-94
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
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
•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
• 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
• 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.
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
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)