International visitors invited to exchange ideas and information with the US Forest Service or our partner agencies and organizations are issued U.S. Department of State Certificates of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status. This document is commonly referred to as a DS-2019 Form. The holder of a DS-2019 may apply for a J-1 visa, the special visa class for exchange visitors engaging in educational and cultural exchange. It is generally used for visiting researchers, specialists or others sponsored by the US Forest Service who are coming to the United States for educational programs of limited duration. This visa category is not intended for permanent employment nor may it be used to engage an exchange visitor in an activity that might otherwise displace a U.S. citizen.
Dependents of J-1 Exchange visitors are issued DS-2019 forms to be considered for J-2 Status. The DS-2019 is not a guarantee that the applicant will receive the visa. An applicant must meet all other requirements required by a US Department of State Consular Officer.
The information included on the Form DS-2019 must be accurate and correspond with the data on the exchange visitor’s passport, visa application, letter of invitation, and other official forms and documents. Host Units and Exchange Visitors should review the DS-2019 form carefully to ensure there are no errors. Pay close attention to sections 1, 3, 4 and 5. If there are errors, please notify International Programs immediately.
After successfully obtaining a J-1 visa from a US Embassy or Consulate, the prospective exchange visitor may travel to the USA. At the port of entry, a US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officer inspects the visitor’s passport, J-1 visa and DS-2019 to determine if they are admissible. If so, the CBP Officer admits the person in J-1 status by stamping the passport/visa, the DS-2019, and the I-94 Arrival-Departure Record. The J-1 visa and the DS-2019 do not guarantee entry to the USA. The Officer at the Port of Entry makes the final determination. For more information, go to: https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94 and https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/ports-entry
Exchange visitors should print and keep their I-94 record and the DS-2019 that was stamped and returned at the port of entry into the US. These documents are permanent records of J-1 non-immigrant status and are necessary to prove legal non-immigrant status in the USA. They are also necessary to travel out of the US during or re-enter again in J-1 status within the designated program dates. For more important information on these documents, carefully read the sections on Pre-Entry and Arrival and on Travel Outside the USA.
After reviewing all program regulations and the Sample DS-2019 Form below, host units may begin the process of requesting a Form DS-2019. Please refer to the Checklist for Hosting an Exchange Visitor and the Host Application Form.