J-1 Visa - Prospective Scholars

J-1 Exchange Visitor

J-1 status is used for professors, research scholars, short-term scholars and specialists for temporary participation in approved programs of teaching, research, observation and consultation. The two most common types of J-1 visitors to UCD are research scholars and professors. Postdocs, lecturers, visiting scientists and visiting researchers are all eligible to apply for a J-1 visa. Undergraduate Student Researchers may also apply for a J-1 visa to participate full-time in a prescribed course of study or research project toward a degree at their home institution.

J-1 Scholar and Host Department Responsibilities

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program was developed by the United States government in conjunction with governments of countries around the world to serve as a forum for educational and cultural exchange. The program provides opportunities for thousands of students, scholars, and other academics to spend time in foreign countries learning skills and sharing their knowledge and culture.

In the United States, the Exchange Visitor program is presently monitored by the Department of State. Organizations--such as the University of California, Davis--have been designated by the Department of State as sponsoring institutions for the J-1 Exchange Visitor program. International visitors who participate in this program in the United States receive J-1 status, which classifies them as members of this exchange program. The official program description of the UC Davis Exchange Visitor Program is:

A program to provide study, teaching, research, observation, consultation, sharing of skills, cross-cultural activities or a combination of these.  It is conducted by UCD and institutes and organizations with which it is affiliated for students, professors, researchers, short-term scholars and specialists.

J Program Participation Requirements for Scholars

  • Scholars must participate in a program that furthers research or teaching objectives and has appropriate activity as described under definitions of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.
  • Scholars must not be subject to any bars to program participation, based on previous time spent in the U.S. in another J status.
  • Scholars must possess sufficient funding to cover expenses for the duration of their visit.  
  • Scholars must maintain health insurance coverage for the J program duration, including coverage for J-2 dependents, as mandated by the Department of State;
  • Scholars must possess appropriate academic or similar credentials for program activity.
  • Scholars must possess sufficient knowledge of English to participate in their program.
  • Scholar must not be a candidate for a tenure- track position.

The Host Department's Responsibilities

  • The department will be responsible for the SISS recharge fee that supports services for J-1 scholars.
  • The host faculty member must clarify in writing what the scholar’s expectations should be in terms of University support, benefits, length of program, and availability of office and lab space, equipment, computer access, clerical support and faculty collaboration.  This should be in the form of a letter of invitation or appointment prior to the scholar’s arrival.
  • The department will submit a completed DS-2019 request to SISS, preferably three (3) months before the program start date. SISS reserves the right to require a different start date if the timeframe requested is unlikely to succeed, taking into account international mail, visa wait times, and international travel.
  • The department will refer the scholar to SISS for check-in and to sign up for an orientation session as soon as he or she arrives.
  • The department will notify SISS of any program-related changes in the scholar’s J-1 program (such as change in location, funding source, etc.).
  • The department will notify SISS of scholars who complete their program earlier than anticipated.

The J-1 Scholar's Responsibilities

  • Scholars are responsible for fees related to the SEVIS fee and the visa fee, charged by the US Embassy.
  • If scholars wish to be accompanied by their spouse or children under age 21 when they arrive, they must inform the department and follow instructions for requesting J-2 DS-2019 documents.  If scholars wish to have their family join them, they must make a request for J-2 DS-2019 documents after arrival.  
  • Scholars must notify SISS within 10 days of any address change while in the US.
  • Scholars must maintain health insurance coverage throughout their J-1 program for themselves and any dependents.
  • Scholars must notify SISS of any program-related changes (source of finances, department location, etc.).
  • Scholars must request a signature on their DS-2019 by completing an eForm in iGlobal if they leave the US and plan to re-enter in the same J-1 scholar program.
  • Scholars must complete a scholar departure eForm in iGlobal and submit to SISS after program completion and before leaving the US.

Information for Departments on How to Request Form DS-2019

Three months before the start date of the J-1 Exchange Visitor's program--but no later than 60 days prior to the state date—the department should submit the DS-2019 request to SISS by completing the iGlobal DS-2019 eForms. You can access iGlobal at J-1eForms.

A complete Request for DS-2019 will include:

  • Request Form
  • Health Insurance Memo of Understanding
  • J-1 Category Selection Form
  • Documentation of funding (for postdocs, a copy of the postdoc agreement)
  • Memo of invitation to J-1 Exchange Visitor from host faculty member (or copy of appointment letter)
  • Copies of current passport and previous U.S. immigration documents for J-1 scholar and any J-2 dependents
  • Scholar’s CV
  • Attachment for J-1 Physician, if medical doctor in home country


Information for Departments on How to Amend a DS-2019 That Has Been Issued

If a J-1 international scholar will not arrive within 30 days of the start date on a DS-2019 (J-1 document) that has already been issued, the start date needs to be “amended” or changed to the new arrival date. To do this, the department must revise the original invitation letter to reflect a new start date (and a new end date, if needed) and upload the amended letter as a PDF after completing the Existing J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Amendment eForm in iGlobal. The International Scholar Advisor will issue an amended (updated) DS-2019.  The department contact will then be notified for pick up and mailing.  Please note:

  • The DS-2019 is not valid if the J-1 scholar does not arrive within 30 days after the start date.
  • If the J-1 scholar has already been granted a visa, the amended DS-2019 will not affect the validity of the visa.
  • If there is at least two more weeks before the scholar plans to arrive, the Department Contact should send the scholar the amended DS-2019 by express courier.
  • If the scholar is unable to receive the amended DS-2019 prior to arrival, the scholar should be prepared to explain to the U.S. Port of Entry Officer at the airport that the DS-2019 start date has been amended and that he or she will receive the original DS-2019 from the department upon arrival at UC Davis. If necessary, in some cases SISS will provide a support letter.