Frequently Asked Questions

General Program Information

What are the basic requirements to qualify for an Exchange Visitor (J) visa under immigration law?

Exchange visitor applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for an Exchange Visitor (J) visa under immigration law. The consular officer will make the final determination whether an individual qualifies for the visa. All applicants must demonstrate that they properly meet requirements, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • That they plan to remain in the U.S. for a temporary, specific, limited period;
  • Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the U.S.;
  • Evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad; and other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.

Can Exchange Visitors travel on a B-1/B-2 visa or on the Visa Waiver Program?

No. The above immigration statuses are personal, independent statuses that do not involve UCSC sponsorship. If a foreign national will be conducting research at UCSC that involves collaboration with UCSC faculty and a UCSC appointment, then they should come as a J-1 Exchange Visitor. More information about individuals who may qualify for the B-1/B-2 or Visa Waiver Program based on their activities at UCSC can be found on the ISSS website.

Which UCSC appointment titles are eligible for J-1 Exchange Visitor status?

J-1 Exchange Visitor status is limited to those who hold temporary, “visiting” academic positions. It cannot be used for tenure-track faculty positions, regular faculty or support positions, administrative positions, or staff positions. The following titles are eligible for J-1 Exchange Visitor status: All Visiting Appointments, Visiting Scholar, Visitor (Graduate Student), Visitor (Undergraduate Student), Postdoctoral Scholar, Research Associate, Research Fellow, and Jr. Specialist. Please reference Recruitment and Appointment of Non-Citizens for more information.

How far in advance should planning begin to invite a J-1 Exchange Visitor to UCSC?

Plans to invite a J-1 Exchange Visitor should begin three to four months in advance of the start date of the appointment to allow for case review, document preparation, mailing immigration documents, and visa processing. In some cases, Exchange Visitors may experience significant delays in visa processing abroad. UCSC Departments and prospective Exchange Visitors are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the visa application process as specified by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

How long will it take ISSS to issue a DS-2019?

Upon submission of the complete DS-2019 request, please allow 7 business days for processing.

Who is responsible for sending the DS-2019 to the Exchange Visitor?

ISSS will issue the DS-2019 to the department/division contact listed on the DS-2019 Request Form. The UCSC host department/division is responsible for sending the original DS-2019 (whether domestic or international) to the Exchange Visitor.

DS-2019 Request Requirements

Is documentation of financial support required to sponsor a J-1 Exchange Visitor?

Yes. Immigration regulations require proof of sufficient supporting funds before a DS-2019 can be issued. Funds may come from UCSC, an outside sponsoring organization, or the individual may be supported by their personal/family funds. The funding document must have been issued within the past 6 months. If the funding document is not in English, it must be translated. Please review the financial requirements for more detailed documentation requirements.

What is the minimum funding requirement?

A minimum of $2,200/month is required to support a single visiting Exchange Visitor at UCSC; an additional $1200/month is required for an accompanying spouse, and an additional $700/month is required for each accompanying child. In order to generate a DS-2019, UCSC is required to obtain documentation proving that the visitor has adequate financial resources to provide for estimated expenses (and the expenses of dependents) for the full duration of the program.

If a department is paying an Exchange Visitor, what documentation should be submitted for financial support?

The final UCSC appointment letter, indicating program duration as well as the amount of funding, should be submitted to ISSS with the DS-2019 request.

Why is there a health insurance requirement for Exchange Visitors?

DOS federally mandates all J-1 and J-2 status holders to carry adequate health insurance coverage. The J-1 Exchange Visitor must purchase insurance for themselves and their J-2 dependents immediately upon arrival in the US. If the J-1 Exchange Visitor and/or dependents fail to maintain the mandatory health insurance coverage, they will be in violation of federal immigration regulations; will be subject to termination as a participant; and must leave the US immediately. Failure to secure or maintain adequate health insurance will result in termination of the J-1 program participation.

What are the minimum health insurance coverage requirements?

Medical insurance must cover the entire period of participation in the Exchange Visitor program; provide a minimum of $100,000 per accident or illness; medical evacuation must be covered in the amount of $50,000, minimum (Medical evacuation is emergency medical transportation to the home country.); repatriation must be covered in the amount of $25,000, minimum (In the unfortunate event of death, repatriation is the transportation of remains back to the home country): the deductible must not exceed $500 per accident or illness. Please visit Health Insurance for more information.

Applying for a J-1 Visa

Please visit ISSS’ Immigration Terms Glossary to better understand the J-1 visa process and the answers to the questions below.

What is the process to obtain a J-1 visa?

Visa applicants should apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, generally in their country of permanent residence. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79, with few exceptions. Learn how to schedule an appointment for an interview, pay the application processing fee, review embassy specific instructions, and much more by visiting the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website. Please visit Pre-Arrival for more information on how to obtain a J visa. Please note a DS-2019 must be issued prior to scheduling a visa interview.

What supporting documentation is required to obtain a J-1 visa?

When applying, each visa applicant must submit to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate the following forms and documentation:

  • DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status;
  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160;
  • A passport valid for travel to the U.S. and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the U.S. (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must complete an application;
  • One (1) 2×2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in Photograph Requirements;
  • Receipt showing the visa application processing fees have been paid (SEVIS Fee, Visa Application Fee, Visa Issuance Fee: each consular office has its own fee rate);
  • Additional documentation items required should be confirmed by visiting the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website: http://www.usembassy.gov/.

Is a DS-7002 required when applying for a visa at the US Embassy or Consulate?

The DS-7002 form is ONLY required for UCSC Student Interns. This form is NOT required for J-1 Professor, Research Scholar, or Short-Term Scholar categories. (For more information about the Student Intern program, see J-1 Student Interns on the ISSS website.)

How long does it take to obtain a J-1 Visa?

The wait time for an interview and processing for a J-1 Visa varies from country to country and is based on individual circumstances. Learn more about interview wait and processing times by visiting www.travel.state.gov and select “Visa Wait Times”. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so it is strongly encouraged to schedule an appointment as soon as you receive your DS-2019 information. Please note that Exchange Visitors beginning new programs may not enter the United States more than 30 days before their program start date.

The J-1 visa has been issued, when can the Exchange Visitor travel to the U.S.?

DHS regulation requires that all beginning (initial) J Exchange Visitors, and J-2 spouse and dependents, enter the U.S. 30 days or less in advance of the applicant’s program start date as shown on the Form DS-2019. The 30-day limitation does not apply to current exchange participants who are returning to continue with their exchange program.

What is Administrative Processing?

Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visa, well in advance of the anticipated travel date.

Can ISSS expedite my J-1 visa application at the US embassy/consulate or request to expedite administrative processing?

No. There is no expedited or premium processing option for J-1 visa applications at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Exchange visitor planning should begin well in advance allowing for ample time to obtain the J-1 visa. No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore final travel plans or the purchase of non-refundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued.

Arrival and Program Amendments

Why does ISSS need to be notified when Exchange Visitors arrive?

Among other reasons, failure to validate an Exchange Visitor’s immigration status within 30 calendar days of the program start date on the DS-2019 will cause the Exchange Visitor’s program to be automatically terminated. Please submit an amendment request to defer an Exchange Visitor’s program start date if the Exchange Visitor plans to arrive later than the program start date.

How can an Exchange Visitor’s program be extended?

A program extension (when applicable) can be requested by submitting a complete amendment request to ISSS. Be aware of the DS-2019 expiration date. This is not the J-1 visa expiration date in an Exchange Visitor’s passport. If the J-1 Exchange Visitor’s appointment is being extended, the hosting department must submit an amendment request to ISSS to have the DS-2019 extended at least one month prior to the current DS-2019 end date. Keep in mind that the same criteria required for the initial appointment must be maintained or met in order to extend the appointment.

What does an Exchange Visitor need to do upon arrival to UCSC?

All J-1 Exchange Visitors must complete the mandatory check-in and orientation process within 30 days of their start date. All Exchange Visitors are emailed the steps to complete this process when their DS-2019 is issued, 5 days before the start date on their DS-2019, and 15 days after the start date of their DS-2019. Please see Mandatory Check-In and Orientation on the ISSS website for more information.

How long are Exchange Visitors allowed to stay in the U.S. after the program has ended?

Once the end date on the DS-2019 has passed, Exchange Visitors must cease all activities at UCSC in order to not engage in unauthorized employment. All Exchange Visitors have 30 days after the end date on their DS-2019 for domestic travel and/or to prepare for and depart from the U.S.

Dependents: J-2 Status

Can J-2 dependents work while in the U.S.?

The spouse and/or child of an Exchange Visitor in the U.S. may only work if they have filed the Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization and they have received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To learn more, visit J-2 Work Authorization on the ISSS website.

Can J-2 dependents study while in the U.S.?

The spouse and/or children of a J-1 Exchange Visitor may study full or part-time in the U.S.