J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

The objective of J-1 exchange visitor 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." [Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (Fulbright-Hayes Act) of 1961]  


Eligibility Criteria

  • Intent to pursue appropriate activity
  • Intent to return to home country (as determined by consular officer)
  • Sufficient funding
  • Appropriate background for program activity
  • Adequate English

Visitor Categories

Research Scholar

An individual primarily conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project. The research scholar may also teach or lecture.

Short-term Scholars

A professor, research scholar, specialist, or a person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the U.S. on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions, or similar types of institution. Examples include educators, scientists, research fellows, writers, and museum administrators. The short-term scholar may also engage in collaborative research.


An individual primarily teaching, lecturing, observing or consulting. A professor may also conduct research.


An individual who is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill coming to the U.S. for observing, consulting, or demonstrating special skills.

Exchange Visitor Category Time Limits

Category Minimum Duration of Stay Required Maximum Duration of Stay
Professor or Research scholar 3 weeks 5 years
Short-term Scholar N/A 6 months
Specialist 3 weeks one year

Dependents J-2

Dependent spouses and children of J-1 visiting scholars or professors enter on J-2 visas and have their own DS-2019s. Having J-2 status does not inherently give the J-2 the permission to work, but it gives the person the right to apply for work authorization from Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Immigration Documents for Exchange Visitors

DS-2019: Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 Exchange Visitor Status
  • Issued by the educational institution or organization after determining the exchange visitor (EV) meets eligibility requirements. The individual must not be a candidate for a tenure-track position. Departments request Forms DS-2019 through the International Center.
  • EV uses the DS-2019 to obtain a J-1 visa at an American Embassy or Consulate abroad to enter the U.S.
  • The DS-2019 should be endorsed by the Alternate Responsible Officer of the J-1 program before the exchange visitor travels outside of the U.S. for re-entry to the U.S.
Visa: Permission to Apply for Entry into U.S. at a Port of Entry
  • Issued by an American Embassy or Consulate abroad (Canadian citizens need a DS-2019 but do not need a visa).
  • Must be valid to enter / re-enter the U.S., except from Canada, Mexico, and the adjacent islands (with some restrictions).
  • As long as the EV remains in the U.S., it does not matter if the visa has expired since it is a travel document, and not the permission to stay.
I-94: Arrival - Departure Record
  • A small card issued to a non-immigrant alien by the Department of Homeland Security upon entry into U.S. indicating legal entry, status at the U.S., and the permission to stay. It is often stapled to the passport.
  • D/S - "Duration of Status" means the length of time necessary for the scholar/professor to complete a specific program or level (as indicated on the Form DS-2019), plus a 30-day grace period.
  • Issued by exchange visitor's home government
  • Required to enter the U.S

Documents Required for an Exchange Visitor to Enter the U.S

  • Valid passport with a J-visa (Canadians are exempt from visa requirement)
  • Form DS-2019
  • I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt
  • Optional but Recommended Documentation
    • Financial Support Documentation
    • Letter of Invitation

Mandatory Check-in

  • All exchange visitors who are issued Form DS-2019s for the purpose of either "begin a new program" or "transfer" are required to attend a mandatory check-in program at the IC in order to fully comply with DOS and SEVIS requirements.
  • It is important that departments communicate with the exchange visitor often and inform the IC immediately if the exchange visitor's arrival will be delayed more than 15 days after the begin date of the Form DS-2019 starting date can be amended.
  • IC is required by DOS and SEVIS to validate the exchange visitor's arrival within 30 days of the program start date on the Form DS-2019. If the exchange visitor's SEVIS record is not validated within these 30 days, it will automatically become "invalid" and the exchange visitor will need to leave the U.S. immediately.

To Maintain Valid J-1 Status, an Exchange Visitor Must

  • Have a valid DS-2019
  • Have a valid passport
  • Conduct employment as indicated on the DS-2019. Departments must contact the International Center if the department wishes an EV to engage in collaborative work outside of UM or if the EV wishes to participate in occasional lectures at another institution.
  • File timely and appropriate transfer and extension notification to the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) through the sponsoring agency.
  • Maintain required health insurance coverage.
  • Update address within 10 days of change, in Wolverine Access.


The purpose of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is to promote international educational and cultural exchange to develop mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries.

For UM-Flint Faculty Inviting Foreign Nationals

If you are interested in inviting a foreign national to the United States to undertake research/teaching in your department, please read the following links to become familiar with the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa status, your role in bringing this person to the U.S., and the process to follow.

DS-2019 Training Materials

Relevant U.S. Government Links


Inform Yourself about J-1 Exchange Visitor Status

DS-2019 Request Process - Forms and Step-by-Step Instructions
Review the following information:
Work with the International Center to Prepare DS-2019 Request
Maintain Communication with Administrative Contact throughout Program
  • Update the International Center if/when you become aware of delayed arrivals, program cancellations, and corrections or updates to the DS-2019 so that he or she can notify the International Center.
  • Respond to inquiries from the International Center about the whereabouts of exchange visitors who have not yet checked in, and any necessary supporting documentation.
  • Work with your department contact to extend the validity of the DS-2019 document, if desired.
  • Direct questions about the DS-2019 process first with the International Center as necessary.