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International Visitor Program

J-1 Visas: Requirements -- Maintaining Lawful Exchange Visitor Immigration Status

All J-1 Exchange Visitors are required to meet the following requirements to be eligible for program participation. Eligibility to remain the United States and engage in exchange visitor program activities is dependent upon maintaining lawful immigration and program status. When an exchange visitor enters the US , an immigration inspector asks the Exchange Visitor to read and sign the DS-2019 form, thus agreeing to abide by the conditions of the J-1 status while in the USA.

J-1 Visas Chart
J-1 Visas at a Glance
Program Categories
Program Requirements
Time Limitation
Program Authorities
B-1 Visas
  • Intent to pursue appropriate activity
  • Intent to return to home country (Establishing non-immigrant intent is determined by consular officer)
  • Have sufficient funds to support oneself and dependents for the duration of the program
  • Appropriate background/qualifications for program activity - Research scholars are expected to have appropriate academic or similar credentials. Generally, a prospective exchange visitor researcher should have at least a bachelor’s degree with appropriate experience in the field of activity.
  • Adequate English
  • Maintain mandatory health/emergency evacuation insurance for oneself and all dependents. Willful failure to carry insurance is considered a violation of program regulations and can result in program termination. The Department of State treats “willful failure” to carry insurance as a serious infraction. One’s record cannot be corrected nor can one be reinstated if charged with this infraction. Please see section on the mandatory insurance requirement.
  • Attend appropriate program orientation offered by program sponsor
  • Meet program criteria for participation
  • Hold a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) status, known as the DS-2019 Form. This form is issued by the program sponsor for specific program activities.
  • Provide all updates required for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a large database accessed by program sponsors, the US Department of State and the US Department of Homeland Security.
  • Follow procedures and go through application process and interviews at a US Embassy or Consulate to successfully obtain a J-1 visa to enter the USA.
  • Enter the USA successfully by being issued a “J-1” stamp at port of entry.
  • Register with the International Programs Office upon arrival and continue to follow guidelines for maintaining Exchange Visitor status to avoid violating immigration regulations.
  • Maintain a passport that is valid for at least 6 months into the future
  • Hold an I-94 card marked D/S – D/S stands for “duration of status” and refers to the program period listed in Item 3 on the DS-2019 form. The definition of J-1 “duration of status” is the period specified on the DS-2019 plus a period of 30 days for the purpose of travel.
  • Engage only in approved program activities at approved sites of activity and abide by all rules for the particular program and program category.
  • Have appropriate authorization for any work - Unauthorized employment is a violation of program status. An exchange visitor’s program can be terminated if s/he engages in unauthorized employment.
  • Notify program sponsor of any changes in program activities and any changes of address within 10 days of a move.
  • Avoid becoming a burden to the state or public charge. Accepting forms of State or Federal aid for which non-immigrants are not eligible may compromise legal immigration status.
  • Abide by the 2-year home country physical presence requirement


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If you have any questions, please contact:
Brenda Dean, International Visitor Program Coordinator , Responsible Officer
Tel: (202) 219-9774
Fax: (202) 208-0873
Email: bdean@fs.fed.us

Rima Eid, Program Specialist, Alternate Responsible Officer
Tel: (202) 208-3785
Fax: (202) 273-6570

Email: reid@fs.fed.us

Misty Sidhu, Program Specialist, Tax Specialist Tel: (202) 273-3324 Fax: (202) 273-4750 Email: msidhu@fs.fed.us

Kristin Corcoran, Program Specialist
Tel: (202) 273-4733
Fax: (202) 273-6570

Email: kcorcoran@fs.fed.us


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