J-1 Visiting Scholars
According to the Department of State (DOS), the purpose of the J-1 Exchange Program is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges.
The exchange of visiting scholars promotes interchange, mutual enrichment, and linkages between research and educational institutions in US and foreign countries. Participants in this program will enter the US with a J-1 visa, identified as “exchange visitors.”
There are various J-1 categories that an individual may fall under:
- Professor: A professor is an individual primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting. A professor may also conduct research unless disallowed by the sponsor.
- Minimum stay of three weeks is required
- Maximum stay is five years
- Research Scholar: A research scholar is an individual primarily conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project. The research scholar may also teach or lecture, unless disallowed by the sponsor.
o Minimum stay of three weeks is required
o Maximum stay is five years
Short-term Scholar: A short-term scholar is an individual primarily conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project. The research scholar may also teach or lecture, unless disallowed by the sponsor.
- No minimum stay is required
- Maximum stay is six months (no extensions beyond six months under any circumstances
- Specialist: A specialist is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill coming to the U.S. to demonstrate his/her special knowledge/skills, observe or consult.
o Minimum stay of three weeks is required
o Maximum stay is twelve months
How to Apply
Departments who wish to invite a J-1 Exchange Visitor to Southeastern must submit the J-1 Exchange Visitor Instruction and Form packet directly to the ISO. A DS-2019 will be issued to the visitor once the packet has been submitted.
Plans to invite a J-1 Exchange Visitor should begin 3-4 months in advance of the start date of the appointment to allow time for document preparation, mailing of the immigration documents, and visa processing.
Minimum Funding Requirements
Proof of funding must be provided to the ISO in order for a DS-2019 to be issued. Additional funding is required for each dependent as well. Funds may come from Southeastern, an outside organization, or the individual may be supported by his or her own resources. Immigration regulations require proof of sufficient funding before an immigration document can be issued. The documentation must be valid within the past 12 months and should be translated into English if in another language.
All J-1 and J-2 status holders are federally mandated by the Department of State to carry adequate health insurance coverage. Southeastern offers a health insurance plan that can be charged to the scholar upon their initial visit to the ISO. If the scholar does not wish to purchase the Southeastern provided plan, they must have adequate coverage of their own which must be approved by the International Services Office.
If the J-1 scholar fails to maintain the mandatory health insurance coverage, they will be in violation of federal immigration regulations, will be subject to termination as a participant, and must leave the U.S. immediately.
Department of State required insurance coverage must meet the following:
-- Medical insurance must cover the entire period of participation in the Exchange
-- Medical benefits must provide a minimum of $50,000 per accident or illness.
-- Medical evacuation must be covered in the amount of $10,000, minimum.
(Medical evacuation is emergency medical transportation to the home country.)
-- Repatriation must be covered in the amount of $7,500, minimum (In the
unfortunate event of death, repatriation is the transportation of remains back to
the home country)
-- The deductible must not exceed $500 per accident or illness.
Two Year Home Residence Requirement - 212(e)
Some J-1 exchange visitor students may be subject to the 212(e) rule. This means that your home country requires you to return home for at least two years after the J program has ended. This rule would prevent you from changing your visa status within the boundaries of the US to most other statuses. You may apply for the F-1 student visa at a US Consulate or Embassy outside the US for a new academic degree program. However, it is not guaranteed that you will be issued an F-1 visa to enter the US to pursue another US degree. Should you be issued an F-1 visa, it does not eliminate the 212(e) requirement for you to return home for 2 years; it merely postpones the requirement until after your F-1 program.
Part of being an exchange student may entail returning home after the program and apply the knowledge and experience you have gained through the program by bringing it back to your home country, as may be required by the US Department of State and some sponsors.
Students may refer to their J-1 visa stamp and/or the information in the lower left box of the DS-2019 form to determine if they are subject to the 212(e) requirement.
There is a process to apply for a waiver of the 212(e) requirement if you are subject; however, it is not guaranteed that it will be waived. You should set up an appointment with the ISO to get more information. It is difficult to obtain a waiver if there was government money involved in your exchange sponsorship.
Waiver of 212(e) information: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1294.html