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Pre-Entry and Arrival

International Visitor Program


Information for Host Units

Host units wishing to invite international visitors may find the program regulations and application process a bit overwhelming at first. That is why the International Visitor Program staff is here to help. We hope to facilitate and ease the process of inviting international guests, while at the same time making sure we are in compliance with a number of complex regulations. The US Forest Service International Programs has been designated by the Department of State to sponsor an Exchange Visitor program. As such, all Forest Service units inviting Exchange Visitors are subject to the program regulations and carry certain obligations for hosting Exchange Visitors.

Information for Prospective International Visitors
Information for Host Units
Information for Participants (J-1 Exchange Visitor

The first step is determining which visa type is appropriate for a particular program or visitor. You need to consider the purpose of the visit, profile of the visitor, length of stay, sources of funds, and other logistical concerns. The International Visitor Program Coordinator can help you in your planning. As all official international visitors must be recorded and as B-1 visas are only appropriate for specific types of activities, it is best to begin by assuming your visitor will require a J-1 visa and initiate the application process for the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program outlined below. The International Visitor Program Coordinator will review the documents and can advise you if a B-1 visa might be appropriate.

If you wish to invite an international guest as a J-1 Exchange Visitor or provide other services (insurance, debit cards, airline tickets, etc.), you should begin the application process at least 12 weeks in advance of the visit or program. It is important to allow sufficient time for the visa application process as it can take as long as 2-3 months. Therefore, much of the preparation actually begins 3-6 months prior to the program or event. We encourage future hosts of international visitors to contact International Programs to discuss proposed programs as early as possible.

The Process

Please review the information provided on this website then complete the following steps:


  • Define program goals, activities, and levels of support or assistance required for international participants
  • Understand prospective visitors, their backgrounds and levels of English language proficiency*
  • Clarify the prospective visitors’ expectations and objectives
  • Discuss visa classifications and the J-1 Exchange Program with the International Visitor Program Coordinator. Your program design, the profile of your participants, and the funding sources can help determine if it is appropriate for the participants to apply for B-1 visas or J-1 visas.
  • Determine the International Programs services you need to support your international visitors (insurance, debit cards, travel arrangements, etc).

* While there is no English language requirement for holders of B-1 visas, sufficient English language skills are required for participation in any J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. Host units must share their knowledge of the participants’ English language skills in the application and verify that they are capable of benefiting fully from the program. Thus, it is important to have extensive conversations or communication with prospective visitors prior to issuing an official invitation or requesting participation in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. This requirement might be waived if program sponsors provide full-time interpreters/translators. If you have questions about English language requirements, please contact the International Visitor Program Coordinator.



  • International Visitor Application & Information Sheet (Application Part 1)
  • Resume
  • Copies of Degrees or Transcripts (Students, Research Scholars, Short-Term Scholars) or proof of employment
  • Copies of Picture/Date page of Passport
  • Copy of any prior J-1Visas in Passport
  • Proof of outside or personal funding, if any, that will be used to support the visitor's program
  • Copies of all documents for any dependents who will accompany the official visitor


Fax or Email the following to the International Visitor Program staff:

  • International Activity and Information Sheet/ DS-2019 Request Form (completed by host unit)
  • All documents submitted by visitor (listed above)
  • Copy of invitation letter

    [Important: Do NOT send letters of invitation to visitors until they have been reviewed by International Programs to determine if intended activities are appropriate fo rthe immigration status sought.]


The International Visitor Program Coordinator will review the proposed activities, budget, services to be provided and the prospective visitor’s profile and immigration history to see that the visa type requested or recommended is appropriate.

If a B-1 visa is appropriate we advise the host unit to issue an official letter of invitation directly to the visitor. International Programs files copies of the International Visitor Application, Activity Proposal and official invitation letter and records the visit in the International Visitors database. The collection of this information enhances the Agency’s ability to respond or assist in an emergency. If special services were requested, such as insurance, International Programs will send appropriate documents to the host unit as soon as possible.

If a J-1 visa is appropriate, the International Visitor Program Coordinator will proceed with the application review and processing. All proposed activities, services and visitor’s profile must fit the approved program categories and criteria for participation in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program as established by the Forest Service and US State Department. The program activity must be clearly linked to the goals and approved activities of the Forest Service which promote international exchange and the proposed funding must be adequate.


Prospective J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to a mandatory security check.


Once the program activities are approved and prospective international visitor passes the security check, the International Visitor Program Coordinator, who serves as the Responsible Officer for the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, issues a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status - Form DS-2019. The DS-2019 and other pre-arrival instructions are mailed to the Host Unit.


The Host Unit must forward the following documents to the exchange visitor. Please use mail services that require signatures upon receipt (express mail services, certified mail, etc.) to ensure the safe delivery of the package.

  • Official Invitation Letter
  • Form DS-2019 (The visitor needs the signed original to apply for a visa.)
  • US Forest Service International Programs International J-1Exchange Visitor Handbook (hard copy or provide a link to website)
  • Pre-Arrival Information Sheet/Community Resource Information Sheet


International Programs will communicate directly with Host Units about the provision of insurance, debit cards, airline tickets and other services. In general, International Programs waits to process these until program dates are reconfirmed and it is certain that the visitor has obtained the necessary visa to enter the United States . In this way, we are able to save our Host Units from incurring additional costs related to date changes or cancellations.

In some cases, round-trip paper airline tickets are required by the consular officer reviewing a visa application. If the visitor finds the consulate requires hard-copy tickets, notify us immediately.


Communicate with the visitor to confirm travel and arrival plans. Make sure the visitor has emergency telephone numbers. You may want to refer to the Welcome Kit Ideas sheet and the Checklist for Hosting an Exchange Visitor to help you plan.


  • Within 48 hours of arrival send the following items to the International Visitor Program Coordinator by fax or email:
    • Copy of Stamped DS-2019,
    • Copy of visa and entry stamps
    • Copy of I-94 card.
    • Change of Address Form
    • Acceptance of Responsibility form.
    • Insurance Form
  • Provide the visitor with a Community Resource Information Sheet or equivalent materials and an orientation to the area/office. Resources and ideas are provided on the On-Site Orientation Checklist for Hosting an Exchange Visitor.
  • Instruct the visitor to view the online orientation materials and complete the Orientation Quiz during their first week at site. The visitor can send the completed quiz to the International Visitor Program Coordinator by mail, fax or email.


The host unit is responsible for collecting progress or program completion reports and notifying International Programs of the visitor’s departure. If you wish to change or extend a program, please contact the International Visitor Program Coordinator directly.

If you have any questions, please contact:

  • Brenda Dean , International Visitor Program Coordinator, Responsible Officer, (202) 644-4640,
  • Rima Eid, International Visitor Program Specialist, Alternate Responsible Officer, (202)644-4642,
  • Kristin Corcoran, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4643,
  • Misty Sidhu, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4645,
  • Ashlee Jackson, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4644,
  • Lee Blaser, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4631,

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