Steps for Incoming Exchange Visitors & Departments

The process of requesting J-1 Exchange Visitor visa status begins with the host department. Once the NU department has submitted a complete J-1 request to the IO, the IO advisor will issue the Exchange Visitor (EV) a DS-2019, which is used to obtain his/her J-1 visa stamp at the U.S. embassy/consulate outside the U.S.

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Instructions for host departments

1. Collect required documents

  • Send the Exchange Visitor DS-2019 Request to prospective Exchange Visitor (EV) for completion (electronic copies are acceptable). It must be returned to the host department along with associated documents .
  • Complete the DS-2019 Department Request Form and obtain required signatures.  NOTE: NIH Grant Chart Strings cannot be used to process extension J-1 Requests.
  • Obtain an approved Visiting Scholar Health Insurance Application (VSHIA) OR obtain a waiver of the Visiting Scholar Health Insurance, both through the Office of Risk Management.
  • Obtain official university position confirmation such as Research Staff Appointment form (research positions), Postdoctoral Research Appointment form (postdoctoral positions) or NU Offer Letter.
  • Obtain funding documentation (if not already included on official university position confirmation above). When submitting bank statements, institutional letters of support or bank letters please use the following guidelines:
    • Documents must have been issued within the last 3 months.
    • The EV must be named as account holder or recipient of the letter of support.
    • The account balance with currency or statement must specifiy that they have at least $1765 (not including dependents) of support per month.
    • The letter must be in English or notarized English translation.
    • If the funding information is an institutional letter of support, the dates of coverage and total amount of support must be present,
  • If transferring from another U.S. institution to NU, please include the J-1 Transfer In Form.  If the EV is eligible for a J-1 transfer, the start date at NU must be the date after the current/previous DS-2019 ends, or earlier. There cannot be a gap in DS-2019 coverage.

2. Scan and email the documents to the International Office

Placing pages 1-4 at the beginning, complete requests should be emailed as one PDF to EVrequest@northwestern.edu

  • Email subject: "LAST NAME, Start Date" (e.g. WILDCAT, 04/01/2013)
  • File name: "DS2019Req_LAST NAME, First Name" (e.g. DS2019Req_WILDCAT, Willie)

The request will be forwarded to the appropriate advisor, who will be in contact with the Department and/or the EV with any questions or missing paperwork.

3. An IO Advisor issues the DS-2019

  • The International Office will email the SEVIS ID number, along with other pertinent information, to the EV. The department contact and payroll (if the EV will be paid by NU) will be cc’d on this email.
  • Once the document is issued the department contact will pick up the DS-2019 and send it to the EV. We strongly recommend that departments use FedEx, UPS, or another courier service.

Instructions for incoming exchange visitors

1. Complete the Exchange Visitor DS-2019 Request

This will be sent to you by your NU department contact. Return the completed form and associated documents (electronic copies are acceptable) so your contact can submit the request to the International Office.

2. After the department's request is approved by IO, you will receive the SEVIS ID number and DS-2019

The International Office will email you the SEVIS ID number; your department will send the DS-2019 to you via FedEx, UPS, or another courier.

3. Pay the SEVIS Fee

You can pay the SEVIS fee via the SEVIS I-901 Fee Processing website.

4. Obtain the J-1 visa stamp

Once you have the DS-2019 from NU, make an appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy/Consulate for a visa interview.

If while applying for a J-1 visa stamp, the EV's name is sent for a background check, there is very little the university can do. However, if more than 60 days have passed since the date of application, and no information has been given regarding application status, please follow the instructions on the IO website regarding Visa Stamp Delay.

Note: Canadian citizens do not require a visa stamp.

5. After arrival on campus, you will need to complete Immigration Check-In

You must check in with the International Office within five days of arriving on campus. Learn more about your check-in process.