J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

National Interest Exceptions Notification

During the week of April 26-30, the U.S. Secretary of State made updates to National Interest Exceptions for individuals subject to the three COVID-19 related presidential proclamations limiting travel to the United States by individuals who were physically present in a covered country during the 14-day period prior to their planned entry or attempted entry to the United States.

The covered countries include: Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland), United Kingdom, and South Africa.

Update May 3, 2021: The U.S. Secretary of State has updated its National Interest Exception (NIE) page to include eligible individuals traveling from India as well.

All current and prospective J-1 visa holders from the countries listed above must apply for the NIE at their home embassy or consulate office prior to entering the United States for academic and research purposes.

To assist our scholars in the visa and NIE application process ISSS has developed a template for departments to use to support their scholar’s NIE application. Please note that the approval of an NIE is at the discretion of the individual country embassy/consulate office, applicants are encouraged to check with their home office for application guidance. 

The NIE is not required for scholars applying and traveling from countries not on the list. 

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact ischolar@ucsc.edu.


According to the Department of State (DOS), the purpose of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the US and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange.

The exchange of international visitors promotes interchange of knowledge and skills, mutual enrichment, and stronger links between research and educational institutions in the US and foreign countries. The J-1 status is a temporary, nonimmigrant status. Participants are expected to return to their home country upon completion of their program.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Intent to pursue appropriate activity (research, teaching, etc.)
  • Intent to return to home country (as determined by consular officer)
  • Sufficient funding for J program duration
  • Appropriate background for program activity
  • English language proficiency

The UCSC department must extend an academic appointment to the prospective J-1 Exchange Visitor prior to requesting a DS-2019. J-1 Exchange Visitor status is limited to those who hold temporary, “visiting” academic positions. The J-1 status 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)
  • Research Associate and Research Fellow
  • Postdoctoral Scholar
  • Jr. Specialist

Please reference Recruitment and Appointment of Non-Citizens for more information.

Please note the immigration bars and limitations that may affect a prospective Exchange Visitors’ eligibility to visit UCSC when submitting a DS-2019 request to ISSS.

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Process Timeline

  1. Department Invited Exchange Visitor
    Before submission to ISSS
  2. Submit DS-2019 Request to ISSS
  3. ISSS Processes DS-2019
    7 business days
  4. Visitor Makes Visa Appointment
    2-4 weeks
  5. U.S. Embassy/Consulate Processes Visa
    1-12 weeks
  6. Visitor Arrives in U.S. and Completes ISSS Orientation Process*
    2-4 weeks

*Must complete no later than 30 days from start date

UCSC Department and Faculty Responsibilities

The UCSC department and hosting supervisor are responsible for providing assistance to the Exchange Visitor upon arrival to UCSC and must comply to the following reporting requirements:

  • Monitor the J-1 Exchange Visitor’s arrival dates and inform ISSS of possible delays or cancellations by submitting an amendment request
  • Inform J-1 Exchange Visitors that they are required to have health insurance for themselves and their J-2 dependents that meet the Department of State's requirements for the J program.
  • Remind the J-1 Exchange Visitor to complete the mandatory ISSS orientation process no later than 30 days after their start date.
  • Notify ISSS by submitting an amendment request if the J-1 Exchange Visitor will experience any of the following at least 30 days in advance:
    • program activities end before the program end date on the DS-2019
    • program activities will be extended past the end date on the DS-2019
    • change/add UCSC compensation
    • change departments or labs within UCSC
    • change faculty supervisor within UCSC
    • additional site of activity (new location where activities will be conducted)