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]
The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) for the express purpose of promoting international educational exchange of expertise and stimulating collaborative teaching and research efforts. Exchange is truly at the core of the program based on this philosophy and directive.
The J-1 program provides opportunities for international scholars and students looking to learn about US culture and to gain practical experience in the United States. The multifaceted programs enable foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to teach, study, conduct research, demonstrate special skills or receive on the job training for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years.
More information can be found on the Department of State website.
Who Qualifies as a J-1 Exchange Visitor? +
J-1 Exchange Visitors can be a visiting researcher, professor, student, or specialist from a country outside of the United States who has been approved to enter the United States for a specific purpose and for a limited amount of time.
Categories and Maximum Lengths of Stay:
• Professors or Research Scholars: Five years (this includes Postdoctoral Associates and Fellows)
• Short-term Scholars: Six months
• Visiting Research Students (Non-Degree): Two years
• Student Interns: One year
J-1 visa holders must be primarily funded by either Rutgers, their host university, government agencies, or other legitimate agencies for the duration of their stay. Only 25% of funding requirements may come from personal finances.
DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility
J-1 Funding requirements can be found here.
Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 who will accompany J-1 visa holders during their time in the United States must obtain a J-2 visa.
Exchange Visitors may only be employed by their sponsoring department at Rutgers. Occasional lecturing and consultation outside of Rutgers is allowed only with vetting and permission in advance by Rutgers Global–International Student and Scholar Services.
International student interns (paid or unpaid) may only work for their sponsoring department at Rutgers for up to 32 hours per week.
Visiting Research Students (non-degree) may only be employed by the sponsoring department at Rutgers for a maximum of 20 hours per week. They can only work on projects that will enhance their approved research plan.
J-1 Student Interns vs Visiting Research Students
The J-1 Student Intern category is reserved for students who are currently in a degree program abroad and seek to visit Rutgers to engage in a project/research-based internship that is integral to the curriculum of the home institution's degree program to which the intern will return. International student interns (paid or unpaid) may only work for their sponsoring department at Rutgers for up to 32 hours per week.
The J-1 Visiting Research Student category is reserved for students who are currently enrolled in a degree seeking program outside of the US, and are coming to Rutgers to conduct research that is necessary for, or integral to, completion of a degree at their home institution. Visiting Research Students (non-degree) may only be employed by the sponsoring department at Rutgers for a maximum of 20 hours per week. They can only work on projects that will enhance their approved research plan.
J-1 Exchange Visitor Responsibilities +
1. The total period of J-1 authorization may not exceed 5 years. This includes time previously spent in J-1 status at another institution.
2. J-1 Exchange Visitors must submit for approval from International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), in writing, any intent to change their work location, title, job duties, or research area prior to the change(s) taking place.
3. J-1 Exchange Visitors 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 ISSS.
4. J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents must maintain health insurance coverage that meets the university level of requirements and remains valid for the duration of the J-1’s program.
5. J-1 Exchange Visitors must report to ISSS the end of their affiliation with Rutgers by submitting a J-1 Request to “Close SEVIS Record” through the Sunapsis portal.
6. If a J-2 dependent leaves the U.S. and returns permanently to their home country prior to the J-1, ISSS must receive a “Request to Close J-2 Dependent Record” through the Sunapsis portal.
7. Before traveling outside the U.S. with the intention of re-entering under the J-1 status, foreign nationals must have their Form DS-2019 endorsed by an RO/ARO at ISSS. A J-1 travel authorization e-form, approved by the J-1 Exchange Visitor's supervisor, must be submitted to ISSS through Sunapsis, before the intended travel date.
8. J-1 Exchange Visitors may not be outside of the U.S. for more than 30 days, while in active status unless previously authorized by ISSS and the host professor.
9. Applications for extension of J-1 status must be submitted by the sponsoring department to ISSS no less than 2 months prior to the program end date indicated on the Form DS-2019.
10. J-1 Exchange Visitors are not eligible for extensions or transfers of J-1 status if the beneficiary has received a "no objection" letter from the Department of State or a waiver from U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services in relation to 212(e) (also known as the 2-year home country residence requirement).
11. J-1s are only eligible to transfer to another institution if they intend to continue their original program objectives. A transfer-out request requires approval from the Exchange Visitor’s supervisor.
12. J-2 dependent status is contingent upon the continued validity of the J-1 Exchange Visitor's status. Loss of legal status by the J-1 Exchange Visitor represents automatic loss of legal J-2 status for his/her dependents.
13. J-2 dependents may not remain lawfully in the U.S. if the J-1 Exchange Visitor is absent from the country for more than 30 days.
14. J-1 Exchange Visitors must notify ISSS of changes of address within 10 days of moving.
15. J-1 Exchange Visitors and their dependents must have a valid passport at all times while in the U.S.. (Passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future.)
Challenges and Restrictions +
212(e) Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement
Certain J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement. These exchange visitors must reside and be physically present in their country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for an aggregate of at least two years following completion of the exchange program and departure from the United States. These exchange visitors are ineligible to apply for or receive an H, K, or L nonimmigrant visa, nor are they eligible for an immigrant visa or permanent residence until they have either complied with the foreign residence requirement or received a waiver.
You will be subject to the 212(e) if:
(a) You are participating in an exchange program financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the U.S. Government, your home government, or an international organization which received funding from the U.S. Government or your home government
(b) Your exchange program involves an area of study or field of specialized knowledge (Skills List) that has been designated as necessary for further development within your home country. The skills list can be found here.
(c) You entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training.
24 Month Bar on Repeat Participation
(Professor or Research Scholar Category Only)
• When your program ends, you and your dependents are barred from starting a new program in the J-1 Professor or Research Scholar Category for 24 months.
• You can re-enter the U.S. in another J-1 category (except Professor or Research Scholar), or you may change to another non-immigrant status as long as you are not subject to the 2-year home residency requirement.
• Once your program ends, you cannot utilize unused program time for extensions, transfers or to start a new program (even if your program ended prior to the 5-year maximum).
• Some Exchange Visitors may be eligible for the “Short-Term Scholar” category (up to 6 months).
12 Month Bar on Repeat Participation
(Student Non-Degree Only)
If you were present in the U.S. in any J-1 or J-2 status (other than J-1 “short term scholar”) for 6 months or more within a 12 month period, you are subject to a 12-month bar from participating in the categories of “Professor or Research Scholar.” This primarily applies to Visiting Research Students (non-degree).
Grace Period for J-1 Visa Holders
• Upon completion of your exchange program, you have a grace period of 30 days to depart the United States.
• You may use this time to shop, sightsee, pack, sell your car, etc.
• Absolutely NO employment, NO research, and NO teaching or project work is permitted during the 30-day grace period.
• Do not cross the U.S. border during the grace period – you will not be able to reenter the U.S.
No Clinical Activities Permitted
J-1 Exchange Visitors in the Research Scholar, Professor, or Short-Term Scholar categories cannot participate in any clinical activities, which includes any incidental patient contact. A J-1 may conduct research involving data that has been collected from someone else's clinical research. However, the J-1 Exchange Visitor cannot have any incidental contact or interaction with patients.
Extension/Transfer of J-1 Status +
Eligibility for extension depends on your situation. Please consult with your sponsoring unit's administrator to discuss possible extension well in advance of your DS-2019 expiration date.
It is not possible to extend an expired Form DS-2019.
A transfer is possible in certain cases. You must first find another institution that will accept you and your approved research program. You should also discuss your plans in advance with your host professor and unit's administrator.
J-2 Dependents +
The J-2 Visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by a consular official at a U.S. embassy or consulate for spouses and dependents (unmarried children under the age of 21) of J-1 Exchange Visitors who accompany or later join the J-1 Exchange Visitor in the United States.
Maximum Length of Stay:
This depends on the length of the primary J-1 visa holder's DS-2019 status document. J-2 dependents may not remain in the United States after the J-1 visa holder leaves the country, unless the primary J-1 visa holder’s absence is brief and temporary.
Dependent visas are meant for family members who want to visit the J-1 visa holder in the United States for a significant period of time. If your family member will come for three months or less, you may want to consider applying for a B-2 (tourist visa) instead.
J-1 visa holders must show proof that they have sufficient funds to support their living expenses as well as those of their dependents during their stay in the U.S.
Travel Information for J-1 Exchange Visitors +
If you are a scholar in J-1 status or a J-2 dependent, you will need a travel signature to re-enter the U.S. in J status after a visit abroad.
To request a Travel Authorization Signature, please log into the RGLOBAL portal.
Be aware that approval from your Host Faculty or Supervisor is required. Allow approximately 1 week for processing.
Please note Exchange Visitors should not be out of the country for more than thirty (30) days, as it will be considered a disruption of program.