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J-1 Exchange Students

Bringing Exchange Visitors to UMMC

The official document that an exchange visitor uses to obtain a J-1 visa for entry into the United States is the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status, commonly referred to as Form DS-2019. The Form DS-2019 is generated via the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a national computerized database of information that is used to maintain data on international students (F-1, J-1 classifications) and scholars (J-1 classification), and their dependents (F-2, J-2 classifications).

UMMC departments that wish to sponsor a prospective J-1 exchange visitor should follow these steps:

  • The sponsoring department must complete an Application for J-1 Exchange Visitor and forward a J-1 Exchange Visitor Information Form to the prospective exchange visitor for completion. Both of the completed forms should be returned to the Office of International Services by the sponsoring department together with the documentation listed on the J-1 Exchange Visitor Checklist.
  • Before deciding on a prospective exchange visitor’s program start date, the sponsoring department should consider the length of time it will take the applicant to schedule and complete a visa interview, and obtain a J-1 visa. It is recommended that a timeline be discussed with the exchange visitor before determining a proposed program start date. Since timelines for scheduling visa interviews and issuing visas at U.S. consulates can vary widely, it is suggested that departments submit paperwork to the OIS a minimum of three months in advance of the exchange visitor’s proposed program start date.
  • Based on the information provided, if the OIS determines that the applicant is qualified for J-1 status, a Form DS-2019 will be generated for the J-1 exchange visitor and his/her accompanying dependents. A pre-arrival letter will be included with the Form DS-2019 covering information such as the exchange visitor’s specific category, the purpose of the program, period of stay, and health insurance requirement. Additional information concerning the visa application procedure, payment of the SEVIS fee, applying for a Social Security Card (if applicable), and how health insurance works in the U.S. will also be included.
  • The contact person in the sponsoring department will be notified that the Form DS-2019 is ready to be picked up for mailing.
  • The sponsoring department will mail the Form DS-2019 and accompanying documents directly to the prospective exchange visitor.

Obtaining J-1 visa at U.S. consulate/embassy

A J-1 exchange visitor should arrive in the United States on or before the program start date entered on the Form DS-2019; but the visitor cannot be admitted earlier than 30 days before the beginning date of the program. When the J-1 exchange visitor arrives in the United States and reports to his/her department sponsor, it is imperative that the sponsor notify the Responsible Officer as soon as possible.

The J-1 visitor must be “validated” in SEVIS within 30 days of arrival. Validation is accomplished by entering the exchange visitor’s U.S. address in SEVIS. If the exchange visitor is not validated within the allotted time period, his/her information will be automatically deleted from SEVIS and his/her program will be canceled.

If a sponsoring department knows that an exchange visitor will be unable to arrive on or before the date entered on the Form DS-2019, the Office of International Services should be notified immediately so that a determination can be made as to whether or not an updated Form DS-2019 must be issued.

Exchange visitors are always at risk for security/background investigations by a U.S. consulate or embassy. These investigations can delay the issuance of a J-1 visa by a few weeks or up to several months depending upon the circumstances. Sponsoring departments should be aware of this possibility and plan accordingly.