Office of International Affairs (OIA)
The J-1 Exchange Visitor Status
Those who enter the United States with the J-1 or J-2 visa are called Exchange Visitors. The J-1 Exchange Visitor visa may be used by those coming to the United States to study, teach, conduct research, or receive training. The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the United States and return home to share their experiences, and to encourage Americans to participate in educational and cultural programs in other countries. It does not require a one-to-one reciprocal exchange.
The J-1 visa is obtained by presenting a Form DS-2019 to a U.S. embassy or consulate. The DS-2019 is issued by the Exchange Visitor sponsor, which may be a university, government agency, or other organizations.
Accompanying Family Members (J-2)
The J-2 visa is for the spouse and minor children (under age 21) of an Exchange Visitor and is issued on the basis of a Form DS-2019 provided by the Exchange Visitor’s sponsor, and evidence of adequate funding for the support of the dependents. Family members entering the United States must carry a separate Form DS-2019 document along with their passports containing J-2 visa stamps. Please request an additional Form DS-2019 from the organization that issued the Form DS-2019 for the Exchange Visitor. A J-2 visa holder may apply to the USCIS for work permission after arriving in the United States. Processing the application could take up to four months. Those who wish to apply for work permission should inquire at OIA after arriving at Jefferson.
Mandatory Health Insurance Requirement for ALL J-1 & J-2 Visa Holders
All Exchange Visitors and their dependents must have health insurance in effect which covers them for sickness or accidents during the period of time when they are in J status. If a J-1 or J-2 visa holder fails to maintain health insurance coverage, his/her visa may be terminated. Health insurance requirements and information on plans can be found here.
Customs and Border Protection no longer gives I-94 cards at the Port of Entry. In order to obtain your I-94 number, please go to www.cbp.gov/I94. Enter the required information and print out a copy for your records. You will need the I-94 number if you wish to apply for a driver’s license, a state photo I.D., or social security number.
Duration of Status or D/S is the length of time for which you ,may stay in J status in the United States. D/S allows you to stay in the U.S. as long as you are complying with all immigration regulations. D/S is based on your program completion date, plus a 30-day grace period. You may extend the D/S by applying for a program extension.
J-1 research scholars or professors have a total of up to 5 years in the J-1 program. In order to extend your DS-2019, you must complete and submit the "DS-2019 Extension Request Form" about one month before the expiration of your current DS-2019.
The visa stamp in your passport allowed you to enter the United States. The visa expiration is the date up to which you are permitted to enter or re-enter the United States - it is not an indication of the length of permission to stay. You only need to renew your visa if you are going to travel outside of the U.S. and return after the expiration date on the visa stamp in your passport. All visa renewals must be obtained at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside of the United States.
Whenever you travel outside of the United States during your J-1 program, you must visit OIA with your DS-2019 so that we can provide a travel validation signature. Your passport must also be valid. You can renew your passport at your country's embassy or consulate in the United States. A list of foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. can be found in the U.S. Department of State website.
All J-1 Exchange Visitors and any family members accompanying in J-2 status must be covered by health insurance that meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of State. Willfull failure to comply with this requirement will result in the termination of your J-1 program. For more information, please visit our Health Insurance Information Page.
If you are receiving funding from Jefferson, you must bring your Social Security card to OIA as soon as you receive it. Social Security applications will be provided during your check-in.
If you decide to apply for a driver's license or state photo ID, you will need a letter from our office. Please e-mail or come to OIA about one week before applying at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. You will need a social security card or social security rejection letter and your immigration documents.
You are only permitted to do the activity that is indicated on your DS-2019. If you are interested in accepting any other kind of work during your stay, please visit OIA for counsel before you receive payment or provide services. Do not accept unauthorized employment.
If at any time you would like to transfer to another institution or even another laboratory at Thomas Jefferson University, you must visit OIA before you make any changes.
You must report any change of address to OIA and USCIS within 10 days of the change. This is extremely important so that you can receive the proper tax forms from Thomas Jefferson University or immigration documents from USCIS. To report your change of address to USCIS, go to the their website.
Your J-1 status and DS-2019 expires when you finish your research or teaching program, regardless of the end date listed on your current DS-2019. Once you finish your J-1 program, you have a 30-day grace period to prepare for departure or tour the U.S. In the future, if you would like to repeat the J-1 research scholar/professor program, you must wait 2 years from the end date recorded in SEVIS. You may apply for other visa statuses.
This 2-year bar does not apply to J-1 short-term scholars.
Before you end your program, please inform our office (OIA).
The 2-year home country physical presence requirement - or INA Section 212(e) - only applies to certain J-1 exchange visitors. This rule is different from the 2-year bar.If you are subject to INA Section 212(e), and are thinking about applying for the H-1B or L-1 status, or a green card, you must fulfill the INA Section 212(e) requirement by living in your home country for 2 years, or by obtaining a waiver of this requirement.
Never throw away any old DS-2019 Forms. Always keep every DS-2019 forms you receive in your lifetime to prove that you legally maintained your J-1 status.