J-1 Exchange Visitor

The J-1 Exchange Visitor is an individual who participates in a program designed to promote the interchange of person, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences. Participants include trainees, scholars, students, teachers, researchers, graduate medical education, observation, consultations, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participants in organized people-to-people programs. Summer employment programs for young people and internship programs for university students and au-pairs are included. 

HR International Faculty and Staff Services administers the University of Oklahoma’s J-1 program for Professor, Research Scholar, Short-Term Scholar, and Specialist as described below.

Review detailed information about the university’s program requirements in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Brochure.

Maintenance of J-1 Status

Exchange Visitors are required to have a valid, unexpired DS-2019 Form (see Petition Process below) and a valid, unexpired passport at all times. Sponsors may terminate an exchange visitor’s program for violating U.S. laws or program regulations or rules governing their particular program.

J-1 Online Orientation

J-1 Orientation

Click the image above to view the J-1 Online Orientation page. The J-1 Online Orientation contains vital information about the J-1 Exchange Visitor program. These short videos explore the responsibilities of J-1 visa holders, provide local information, outline the steps for acquiring a J-1 visa, and much more. 

Categories and Duration of Stay

Review descriptions of the J-1 categories below and how long individuals in each category are allowed to remain in the U.S. 

Research Scholars

The Research Scholar exchange visitor must be engaged primarily in conducting research, observing or consulting in connection with a research project in research institutions, post-secondary accredited educational institutions or similar types of institutions. 

  • They cannot be a candidate for tenure-track appointments. 
  • The research scholar may teach or lecture unless disallowed by the sponsor (OU). 
  • Any patient contact must be incidental to the designated research. 
  • This program does not support academic or graduate medical education and/or training.
  • A Professor or Research Scholar exchange visitor must not have been physically present in the U.S. in "J" visa status, for all or part of the 12-month period preceding their (re)entry into the U.S. as a Professor or Research Scholar participant (see 2-year Rule bar).  An exception to that rule was provided to exchange visitors present in the U.S. for less than 6 months or whose presence in the U.S. was as a program participant in the category of "Short-term Scholar."
  • Minimum qualifications for this category are a bachelors degree with appropriate experience in the field of which research is to be conducted.

Duration of Stay in U.S.

Participants in the Professor and Research Scholar categories are authorized to engage in the exchange visitor program for the length of time necessary for completion of the project up to a cumulative total of five years beginning on the date of entry to the U.S. This cumulative total of five years is across all projects.  

The five-year calendar period is based on a “use or lose” basis. For example, any amount of time that a participant returns home will have that time counted towards the total five-year calendar period. This includes time away for vacation and holiday visits.

Return to the U.S.

Individuals who have entered the U.S. as Professor or Research Scholar exchange visitors or acquire such status while in the U.S., will not be eligible for repeat participation in these categories for a period of two years following the completion of the five-year period (also known as the two-year bar from participation).

Participants who complete a program, which is less than five years, will have the option to transfer to another institution and have the current program extended up to the maximum duration of five years, or return home and fulfill the two years of program ineligibility before repeating participation in one of these categories. 

Professors

A Professor exchange visitor is an individual primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting at post-secondary accredited educational institutions, museums, libraries, or similar types of institutions. 

  • The participant cannot be a candidate for a tenure-track position. 
  • A professor may also conduct research, unless disallowed by the sponsor (OU).
  • A Professor or Research Scholar exchange visitor must not have been physically present in the U.S. in "J" visa status, for all or part of the 12-month period preceding their (re)entry into the U.S. as a Professor or Research Scholar participant (see 2-year Rule bar).  An exception to that rule was provided to exchange visitors present in the U.S. for less than 6 months or whose presence in the U.S. was as a program participant in the category of "Short-term Scholar."

Duration of Stay in U.S.

Participants in the Professor and Research Scholar categories are authorized to engage in the exchange visitor program for the length of time necessary for completion of the project up to a cumulative total of five years beginning on the date of entry to the U.S. This cumulative total of five years is across all projects.  

The five-year calendar period is based on a “use or lose” basis. For example, any amount of time that a participant returns home will have that time counted towards the total five-year calendar period. This includes time away for vacation and holiday visits.

Return to the U.S.

Individuals who have entered the U.S. as Professor or Research Scholar exchange visitors or acquire such status while in the U.S., will not be eligible for repeat participation in these categories for a period of two years following the completion of the five-year period (also known as the two-year bar from participation).

Participants who complete a program, which is less than five years, will have the option to transfer to another institution and have the current program extended up to the maximum duration of five years, or return home and fulfill the two years of program ineligibility before repeating participation in one of these categories. 

Short-Term Scholars

  • Short-Term Scholar exchange visitors may lecture, observe, consult, and participate in seminars, workshops, conferences, study tours, professional meetings, or other types of similar educational and professional activities. This category provides foreign scholars the opportunity to exchange ideas with their American colleagues, participate in educational and professional programs, confer on common problems and projects, and promote professional relationships and communications. 
  • Participants may also lecture or consult at institutions not listed on the Form DS-2019 if the Responsible Officer issues a written authorization for such activity. The authorization must be attached to the participant's Form DS-2019.
  • Exchange visitors who have recently participated in an exchange program as a Professor or Research Scholar in the U.S. are not expected to attempt to reenter the U.S. as a Short-Term Scholar to rejoin their original sponsor as this would be considered to be a continuation of their original program objective.  Program extension is not allowed.

Duration of Stay in U.S.

The Short-Term Scholar program is limited to the time needed to complete the objective, up to four months, but no longer than a maximum of six months. 

  • Short-term scholars ending their program participation within 5 months and 29 days will NOT be subject to the two-year re-entry bar. 
  • The minimum program duration of three weeks for any Exchange Visitor Program category is waived for participants in this category. 
  • Extensions of stay are not permitted.

Specialists

Specialist exchange visitors are foreign specialists that are observing American institutions and methods of practice in their professional fields, and sharing their specialized knowledge with their American colleagues.

This is an individual who is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill coming to the United States for observing, consulting, or demonstrating special skills, except: 1) Research Scholars and Professors; 2) Short-Term Scholars, and; 3) Alien Physicians in graduate medical education or training.

Duration of Stay in U.S.

The Specialist may participate in the Exchange Visitor Program for the length of time necessary to complete the program, but participation cannot exceed one year. 

When Not to Use This Visa

The J visa is a nonimmigrant visa and participants are granted entry into the U.S. with the understanding that they will complete the objectives of a single program category. The J-1 visa should not be used in the situations described below.

  • The J-1 visa is inappropriate for foreign nationals seeking to work under conditions other than the allowed activities of the Exchange Visitor Program categories described above. 
  • The J-1 visa is also inappropriate for foreign nationals seeking to immigrate permanently to the U.S. 
  • The J-1 visa is also inappropriate for organizations wishing to add a workers. Organizations must use other legitimate avenues of immigration and/or temporary employment, described in the Immigration and Nationality Act, to add workers.

Petition Process

The petition process is initiated by an OU department and has several steps.

  1. The exchange visitor must meet the qualification requirements for a specific category described above.
  2. The OU department initiates sponsorship of a J-1 exchange visitor by submitting Form HR2019 in the documents section of this page to HR IFSS. 
  3. HR IFSS will submit Form HR2019 to be reviewed by the U.S. Office of Export Control. This office will determine if the proposed activity is subject to Export Control Regulations and whether a professional license is required. 
  4. After the HR2019 has been approved, HR IFSS will issue a DS-2019: Certificate of J-1 Eligibility.  This certificate is generated through the SEVIS online system that is run by the U.S. Department of State to track J-1 visitors.
  5. The OU department sponsoring the J-1 exchange visitor will mail the DS-2019 form to the visitor. 
  6. The J-1 exchange visitor submits the DS-2019 to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate as part of their visa application.
  7. A J-1 exchange visitor that is transferring from another U.S. institute or agency, will retrieve their DS-2019 from the HR IFSS office when they arrive on campus. 

Visa and Fees

All foreign nationals who seek to enter the U.S. in the J-1 exchange visitor category must obtain a visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before coming to the U.S. Applicants should apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. NOTE: Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement but must comply with all other documentation requirements.
  1. The university mails the DS-2019 form to the visitor.
  2. The visitor must submit the DS-2019 form, their visa application, passport, and any visa fees to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. 
  3. J-1 visa applicants should apply for their visa far in advance of their desired arrival date in the U.S. J-1 visitors are allowed to enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the program start date listed on the DS-2019. Under no circumstances should they enter after the program start date without first notifying the program official.

SEVIS Fees: In addition to any visa fees, individuals applying for J visas must pay the $180 SEVIS fee before applying for their visas. Fee payment must be processed at least 3 business days before the scheduled date of the visa interview. Proof of payment must be presented during the visa application process. Review information about the SEVIS payment and submission of the SEVIS form I-901. The applicant is responsible for all visa and SEVIS fees. The university does not pay these fees. 

  • SEVIS is a federal Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information about nonimmigrant students (F and M visas), exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-1, M-2, J-2 visas). 
  • The SEVIS fee must be paid when applying for initial classification as a J nonimmigrant, when changing to a J classification from a different visa, and when applying for J-1 category change.

Denial of Visa: The SEVIS fee is valid for 12 months from the date of the initial application if the applicant wishes to apply again for the same or a different program category.

Family Petitions & Applications: All family-based application and petition expenses must be paid by the individual. 

HR International Faculty and Staff Services (IFSS) Office Fees: IFSS offers immigration services provided by an in-house immigration attorney and administrative staff. These services are currently provided at no charge to the department or participant. OU remains one of the few schools offering these services at no charge. Requests that require expedited attention or do not provide minimum notice to our office may eventually force our office to charge fees. 

U.S. Entry & Arrival Notification

The participant MUST enter the U.S. no later than the program start date listed on the DS-2019 form.

Exchange Visitors entering the U.S. must present themselves in person to an IFSS staff member at OU within 3 business days of their U.S. entry. Proof of valid entry will be required. If the participant fails to appear within 3 business days, their SEVIS record is subject to automatic cancellation by the U.S. Department of State.

Participants Transferring to OU

Exchange Visitors transferring from other programs must present themselves in person to an IFSS staff member at OU within 3 business days of their arrival at OU, and within no more than ten business days from the transfer date on the DS-2019 form.

Update Address

Participants must report changes in their U.S. residential address or telephone number to their responsible program officer at OU. All foreign nationals must also report address changes to the USCIS by completing Form AR-11 and sending it to USCIS within 10 days of the address change. Changes can also be reported using the USCIS online services.

Social Security Number

Exchange visitors receiving monetary support directly from the university will require a Social Security number. Learn how to get a Social Security number here.

 The Social Security Administration application process can take up to two months before a card is issued with the assigned number. In the interim, a temporary number can be assigned for payroll purposes until the Social Security card is received.

Medical Insurance

J-1 participants and any J-2 dependents (spouses and minor children under the age of 21) accompanying them are required to carry medical insurance with the coverage described below. Review the J-1 Health Insurance Requirement in the Documents section of this page. NOTE: University-provided medical insurance does not include the required level of coverage described below. The participant and their dependents must acquire additional insurance to meet these requirements.

At minimum, medical insurance benefits must include: 

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000;
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000, and;
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

Willful failure on the part of the participant or any J-2 dependents to maintain active medical insurance coverage is grounds for termination from the program.

The University of Oklahoma does not recommend or endorse any medical insurance company. We provide a list for your convenience and as a starting point.  If you are unsure if a plan meets the aforementioned requirements, you may check with the IFSS office to confirm if the policy complies with federal regulations before purchasing it.

While current regulations do not require entry to exit (travel) insurance, the Department of State and sponsors strongly encourage this highly desirable coverage. The average out-of-pocket expense for an emergency visit, even with insurance can cost thousands of dollars. Emergency room visits without insurance can be higher.  The J-1 exchange visitor and any accompanying dependents may also be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, depending on the nonimmigrant’s tax residency status.

Travel

Visa applicants should prepare in advance and allow sufficient time for potential delays when applying for visas of any type at a U.S. consular post abroad. Travelers should be aware that the information they post online may be inspected by immigration officials that adjucication requests for immigration benefits, including admission to the U.S.

International visitors and workers on approved visas who travel outside the U.S. must review the following information:
  • Passport - Be sure that your passport is valid at least six months beyond the date of your intended stay in the US.  If your passport expires before your US visa does, the US customs inspector will limit your US admission stay to correspond with your passport's expiration date.
  • Visa - Check your visa to make sure it will be unexpired on your anticipated re-entry date. Also note the number of entries allowed on your visa. Although the visa date may still be valid, you may have used all allowable entries.
  • Exchange Visitor (J-1, J-2) - You must take your original DS-2019 form when traveling. Be sure you have a valid signature dated within the last 6 months from IFSS on the section marked "Travel Validation by Responsible Officer" at the bottom right of your form. Note: J-2 dependents must each have their own DS-2019 with a valid travel signature dated within the last 6 months. Failure to revalidate the DS-2019 could delay or deny re-entry into their U.S. program.
  • Financial Documentation - Exchange visitors must have financial documentation with them while they travel, for example, an appointment letter, an award letter from a funding organization, or personal financial documents.
  • Upon Re-entry to the U.S. - When the immigration inspector stamps your passport upon re-entry into the U.S. be sure to check IMMEDIATELY that the stamp shows your correct immigration status. THIS IS CRITICAL. If the stamp does not match your visa status, you will not be able to resume your position at the university. For example, if you are a J-1 professor and the immigration inspector records a different status for your admission, for example B-2, you will not be eligible to take up your J-1 teaching position. 
  • Readmission Evidence, I-94 Number - Travelers needing evidence of readmission to the U.S. should visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website to print or review an I-94 form based on the data that was electronically submitted at your entry. This data includes your I-94 number, which may be needed to prove lawful U.S. entry for benefits providers and other purposes.

Family

About the J-2 Visa

The Exchange Visitor program permits the entry of the participant’s dependents under the J-2 visa at the sponsor’s discretion. The J-2 visa is available to the spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of a J-1 visa holder. The status of the J-2 visa holder remains valid as long as the principal J-1 visa holder is valid: if the J-1 expires, and the participant has to return to his or her home country, so do the dependents on J-2 visas. 

A J-2 visa-holder is allowed to work while in the U.S, if the work is not to support the principal J-1 holder. In order to legally work while in the U.S., the J-2 visa holder must apply for permission to seek employment from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service by filing Form I-765. Once this permission is granted, the visa-holder may work for any employer, either full time or part time. There is no legal limit to what they can earn.

J-1 participants and any J-2 dependents (spouses and minor children under the age of 21) accompanying them are required to carry medical insurance. See the "Medical Insurance" tab on this page for more information.

How can I apply?

The J-2 Visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by a consular official at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The application procedure is the same as that for a primary visa applicant. The sponsor must approve the accompaniment of the spouse and/or children who will each be issued their own Form DS-2019.  To request a DS-2019 for eligible family members, the J-1 scholar will complete the Form HR2019-2 and submit to the appropriate IFSS office for processing.

Family Petitions & Applications: All family-based application and petition expenses must be paid by the individual. 

Leaving OU

Grace Period after Program Ends

Following the completion of their program, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will allow participants a 30-day travel period commonly referred to as the “Grace Period.” During this 30-day grace period, participants are no longer in J-visa status and are under the jurisdiction of the USCIS. The USCIS grants this period to allow participants to settle their affairs and to prepare to return to their home countries. During this period, program participants may not work or continue program activities.

Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

Certain categories of exchange visitors are subject to the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA Section 212(e)) and must return home for two years after completing their J-1 program. An exchange visitor is subject to the INA 212(e) requirement, if the following conditions exist:
  • The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the U.S. government or the government of the exchange visitor's nationality or last residence;
  • The exchange visitor is a national or resident of a country designated as requiring the services of persons engaged in the field of specialized knowledge or skills in which the exchange visitor was engaged for the duration of their program (Exchange Visitor Skills List 9 FAM 41.62, Exhibit II);
  • The exchange visitor entered the U.S. to receive graduate medical education or training.
If the exchange visitor is subject to INA 212(e) requirement, he or she cannot change his or her status to that of H, L, K, or immigrant lawful permanent resident (LPR) until he or she has returned to his/her home country for at least two years or received a waiver of that requirement. Such waivers can be obtained under five separate bases: No Objection Statement, Exceptional Hardship or Persecution, Conrad Program, or Interested Government Agency. For information, see Waiver of the J Visa Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement 212(e).

Individuals that hold a derivative dependent J-2 status are also subject to INA 212(e). An exchange visitor who is subject to the requirement is not permitted to change to any other nonimmigrant status within the U.S. Individuals can write to the U.S. Department of State and request a formal advisory opinion on the applicability of the requirement.

Transfer Rules

Exchange visitors are allowed to transfer to another sponsor if they are properly released by the first sponsor. To qualify as a transfer instead of a new program, the transfer program must clearly have the same purpose as the original program category (i.e., Research Scholar, Student, Alien Physician, etc.).

Consider This

Volunteering and moonlighting refer to activities outside the scope of the foreign national's employment authorization and may not be allowed. Review more information about volunteering and moonlighting

About IFSS

Review the About Us page
  • Contact Information
  • IFSS Staff
  • IFSS Disclaimer

Documents

Documents for J-1 Visitors
These documents are used by J-1 Exchange Visitors.
HR2019-2 REQUEST FOR DEPENDENTS
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa
J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR BROCHURE
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa
J-1 MEDICAL HEALTH INSURANCE REQUIREMENT
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa
J-1 TRANSFER OUT OR EARLY PROGRAM COMPLETION
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa
J-1 TRANSFER-IN FORM
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa
J-2 INSTRUCTIONS FOR EAD CARD
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa
For Use by OU Departments
These documents are used by OU departments.
HR2019 REQUEST FOR EXCHANGE VISITOR
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa
HR6220 REQUEST TO CHANGE LOCATION FOR EXCHANGE VISITOR
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa
J-1 ARRIVAL NOTICE & INSURANCE PLEDGE
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa
J-1 INTERNAL TRANSFER RELEASE FORM
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa
NONIMMIGRANT VISA DEADLINES & DESCRIPTIONS (REFERENCE GUIDE)
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa
UNIVERSITY VISA FEE POLICY
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa