J-1 Scholars

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program was created to “increase mutual understanding between people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges” (U.S. Department of State). The J-1 program provides many opportunities for international visitors at Northwestern University, and you may be able to visit the university in one of several possible categories available as a J-1 Exchange Visitor, including Intern, Researcher, and Professor.


While at Northwestern University in J-1 status, you may receive a salary or stipend from various parties, including Northwestern, the government, private organizations, your current place of employment (outside the U.S.), or personal funds. However, all funding, regardless of the sources, must meet the current living expense requirements. This requirement is $1,765/month or $21,180/year, as of February 2011.


You can begin the process by speaking with your department concerning your current visa status and what type of J-1 visa your supervisor will sponsor. The International Office can only accept J-1 requests from directly from sponsoring departments.


Once your department has confirmed their sponsorship of your J-1, you are ready to begin the J-1 application process. The remainder of this webpage gives you information about:


Types of J-1 Categories
212(e) (Two-year home residency requirement)
24 Month Bar
Application Process
Arrival and Check-in
J-1 Immigration Documents
Early Departure/Transferring your J-1 SEVIS record
Extending your DS-2019
Travel while in J-1 status
Obtaining a J-1 visa stamp abroad
Requesting immigration documents from the IO
J-2 dependents

TYPES OF J-1 CATEGORIES

There are several different types of J-1 visa categories hosted by Northwestern University departments. Brief information can be found below. For comprehensive information regarding each category, please review the Types of J-1 Visa Table for further information.

Short-Term

  • Purpose of visit: lecture, observe, consult, train staff, demonstrate special skill(s)
  • Current position in home country: Professor, researcher (post-doc or pre-doc/graduate student), or someone with similar credentials (Doctor, attorney, etc.)
  • Duration of U.S. visit: 1 day - 6 months
  • Individual may return in this category an unlimited number of times

Research

  • Purpose of visit; research, observe, consult, teach, capacity in connection with a research project
  • Current position in home country: Professor, researcher (post-doc or pre-doc/graduate student), or someone with similar credentials (Doctor, attorney, etc.)
  • Duration of U.S. visit: 3 weeks - 5 years
  • Individual is subject to the 24 Month Bar  (See below under 'Important J-1 Visa Regulations' for more information)

Professor

  • Purpose of visit: teach (primary), lecture, observe, consult, research
  • Current position in home country: Professor, researcher (post-doc or pre-doc/graduate student), or someone with similar credentials (Doctor, attorney, etc.)
  • Duration of U.S. visit: 3 weeks - 5 years
  • Individual is subject to the 24 Month Bar (See below under 'Important J-1 Visa Regulations' for more information)

Intern

  • Purpose of visit: participate in a structured internship program
  • Position in home country: undergraduate student
  • Duration of U.S. visit: 1 day - 12 months
  • Individual may return in this category in a different internship program

Trainee

  • Purpose of visit: participate in a structured internship program
  • Position in home country: recent undergraduate student who has been working in internship field
  • Duration of U.S. visit: 1 day - 18 months
  • Individual is subject to the 24 Month Bar

212 (e) - 2 year Home Residency Requirement

What does it mean to be subject to 212 (e), two-year home residency requirement?

  • Scholar is not eligible to obtain an H or L visa at a U.S. consular office, or to change to these visa categories within the U.S. before fulfilling this requirement
  • Scholar is not eligible for lawful permanent residence status before fulfilling this requirement.
  • Scholar is not eligible to change status from J-1 to any other nonimmigrant status from within the U.S. before fulfilling this requirement. Any change of status must be done by exiting and re-entering the U.S. in the new status.
  • Please note that 212(e) will still apply to your record until the requirement has been waived or fulfilled.

What does a scholar have to do to fulfill this requirement?

  • After the completion of the J-1 program in the U.S., J-1 scholars subject to the 212(e) must spend two years physically present in your country of citizenship or last legal permanent residence. Time does not have to be continuous.

Which J-1 scholars are subject to 212e?

  • Any scholar whose field of study is on the Exchange Visitor Skills List through the Department of State. Please be advised that the IO recommends that all scholars check the Skills List even if your documentation does not reflect subjectivity.
  • Any scholar receiving U.S. or home government funding.
  • Any scholar receiving graduate medical education or training.

Can a scholar have this requirement waived?

  • Yes, the waiver process should be initiated and filed by the EV and not by the International Office. More information on this waiver process can be found on the Department of State site.
**If an you were subject to the 212(e), two year home residency requirement, and you have received a written waiver recommendation from the US Department of State, then you are not eligible for an extension beyond the current end date of your DS-2019.**


24 Month Bar

Who is subject to the 24 month bar?

  • Scholars who are currently in the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category, or who have been in the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category in the past 24 months.

What does it mean to be subject to the 24 month bar?

  • The 24 month bar is meant to bar individuals from repeat participation in the J-1 exchange program.
  • After the end of your J-1 program, you cannot return to the U. S. in the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category for 24 months.
  • This does not bar you from entering in the J-1 Short-term category, or in other nonimmigrant statuses.
  • If you are a J-1 scholar in the Research Scholar or Professor category, and you plan to make annual or other periodic trips to Northwestern, please speak with the International Office before leaving the U.S.
  • Note: If you entered the U.S. on a J-1 visa prior to November 2006 you are subject to a 12 month bar not the 24 month bar.  For more information contact the IO.

When does the 24 month bar go into effect?

  • The 24-month bar will apply to you regardless of whether you were in status for only a few months or for the full five year limit of the J-1 program.
  • The 24 month bar goes into effect when your J-1 program finishes and your record in SEVIS goes inactive.
  • To take advantage of the full five years of the -1 Research Scholar or Professor category, you would need to have an appointment of five continuous years to keep your SEVIS record active.

Which EV's are subject?

  • All EV's in the Research Scholar, Professor category
  • Trainees may participate in additional training programs only after residing outside the United States for at least 2 years following your last training program.

APPLYING FOR A J-1 WITH NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY

All forms associated with the J-1 can be found here under the ‘Scholars’ heading.

The International Office can only accept J-1 requests directly from departments in Northwestern University.  Once the International Office receives the supporting documents collected for your J-1 request, an International Scholar Advisor will create a DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility. You can use this to make an appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for the J-1 visa stamp or extend J-1 status. During htis process, you must communicate with both your academic department contact and with the International Office Advisor.

Timeline information:

International Office processing time for DS-2019's is currently two weeks. If you are overseas and you need to apply for a J-1 visa stamp, please keep in mind that processing time varies by Embassy or Consulate. You can check the Department of State site for wait times at each Consular office.

If you are in the U.S. in a different status and you plan to apply for a change of status to J-1 with USCIS, you are responsible for filing the change of status application. Please keep in mind that you cannot begin working in J-1 status until you have received the change of status Approval Notice from USCIS, and that approvals for this kind of application can take 3 to 4 months.

Please keep in mind that International Office and Embassy processing times are subject to change based on processing volume.

Application Process:

  1. Review the J-1 Exchange Visitor Request Form
  2. Complete all of the information and submit this form and all relevant documents directly to your sponsoring department. Additional documents might include proof of funding, a copy of your passport biographical page, and proof of health insurance coverage.
  3. Your department will submit a complete request to the International Office
  4. International Office Advisor will review the request and contact you or the department for any missing documents
  5. DS-2019 will be issued or extended within 2 weeks
  6. If you are overseas, you will receive an email containing your SEVIS ID and other pertinent information
  7. If you are currently at Northwestern University, you will receive an email telling you that your new DS-2019 is ready for pickup.

Funding guidelines:
If you are not receiving all of your funding from Northwestern University, you will need to show proof of other funds. Bank statements, institutional letters of support, or bank letters must have been issued within the last 3 months. The document(s) submitted must include the following information: 

  1. Name of J-1 scholar as account holder or recipient of the letter of support
  2. Account balance with currency or statement that there is funding that equals at least $1,765 (not including dependents) of support per month.
  3. The letter must be in English or notarized English translation.
  4. If the funding information is an institutional letter of support, the dates of coverage and total amount of support must be present.

Change of Status (COS) applicants:

Once you receive your DS-2019, complete the I-539 form and submit it to USCIS with the necessary documentation.

J-1 Extension applicants:

Please refer to the Types of J-1 visas table above to learn the maximum you can remain in the current J-1 category.  The maximum for Research Scholar/Professor categories is five years, while the maximum for the Short-Term category is 6 months.


**If an you were subject to the 212(e), two year home residency requirement, and you have received a written waiver recommendation from the US Department of State, then you are not eligible for an extension beyond the current end date of your DS-2019.**

J-1 Transfer applicants:

If you are a J-1 Exchange Visitor (EV) transferring to a Northwestern from another U.S. institution please complete and submit the J-1 Transfer In form to your Department.   Note: You will receive your new DS-2019 from Northwestern when you check-in with the International Office.


ARRIVAL AND CHECK-IN

Once you arrive in Evanston/Chicago, please come to the International Office to check-in.  Complete the J-1 EV Check-In Form  and bring your immigration documents for the International Office to copy and keep on file. It is recommended that you check-in as soon as you arrive on campus and no later than 30 days after the start date on your DS-2019.

If you do not check-in within 30 days of the start date on your DS-2019, your SEVIS record will become inactive you must stop all work on campus until you speak with an advisor in the International Office.

For those J-1 scholars being paid by Northwestern, please check-in with the International Office before completing the I-9/E-verify

J-1 immigration Documents

As an Exchange Visitor in J-1 status at Northwestern University, 3 documents are very important in the maintenance of your status.  They are:

  1. DS-2019 - Issued by Northwestern University for you to obtain your visa stamp. This document reflects your program dates, your current J-1 visa category, and whether you are subject to the 212(e).
  2. Visa Stamp - Issued to you by a U.S. Embassy/Consulate outside the U.S.  This entry document is necessary to enter the U.S. and can only be renewed outside the U.S.  Remember: it is not a problem if your visa stamp expires while you are in the U.S.; you only need it to enter the U.S. in valid J-1 status.
  3. I-94 Card - This is your arrival and departure notice.  You will receive a new one every time you enter the U.S. and will surrender it every time you exit the U.S.
  • Your eligibility to be at NU in J-1 status depends on the dates of your DS-2019 (not your visa stamp)
  • After the end date on your DS-2019 you may remain in the U.S., but cannot work/research at Northwestern, for a total of 30 days.
  • You need a travel signature on your DS-2019 when you travel outside the U.S.  This signature is valid for one year.
  • If you move/change address while at Northwestern, please email scholar services at intscholars@northwestern.edu with your new address within 10 days.
  • Keep track of your documents and when you are approaching the end date on your DS-2019, please speak with your department about an extension.

Early Departure/TRANSFERRING YOUR J-1 RECORD IN SEVIS

Transfer-In from another insititution

If you are a J-1 Exchange Visitor (EV) transferring from another U.S. institution, you must complete the J-1 Transfer-In Form and include it in your NU Department's J-1 Request paperwork to the IO.

Early Departure or Transfer-out to another institution

If you are completing your J-1 program before the intended end-date, changing your immigration status or wish to transfer your J-1 record to another U.S. institution please submit a completed J-1 Early Departure/Transfer Out Form to your assigned IO advisor. 


EXTENDING YOUR DS-2019

Please speak with your hiring faculty and work with your department administrator to extend your DS-2019 beyond its current end date. Remember, your DS-2019 must be extended before it expires. 

TRAVEL 

If you plan to travel while in J-1 status, please review the following and contact your International Office Advisor with any questions.

In order to re-enter the U.S. in J-1 status, you must travel with 3 main documents:

  1. DS-2019 with travel signature (valid for one year). You may either drop your DS-2019 off at the front desk of the IO and pick it up with a new travel signature the following business day after 12noon or drop by one of our scheduled 'Travel Signatures To Go' sessions advertised on our home-page here 
  2. Valid J-1 visa stamp
  3. I-94 card. This will be surrendered to an airline official when you exit the U.S. and you will receive a new one when you return

What if I am traveling within the U.S.?

  • We recommend that all visitors carry their valid passport and a copy of their DS-2019 for domestic travel. 

What if I am traveling to Canada or Mexico and will stay for less than 30 days?

  • You should carry your passport and DS-2019 with a valid travel signature.
  • If the J-1 visa stamp has expired, you may carry your valid DS-2019 and can re-enter the U.S. on the expired visa stamp.  
  • In this specific case, you should not surrender you I-94 card and a new one will not be issued upon re-entering the U.S. 

What if I am traveling to Canada or Mexico and will stay for longer than 30 days?

  • All EV's should carry their valid passport and DS-2019 with valid travel signature.
  • If the J-1visa stamp has expired, EV's must obtain a valid J-1 visa stamp to re-enter the U.S. 

What if I am traveling outside of the U.S. (other than Canada or Mexico) for any period of time?

  • All EV's should carry their valid passport and DS-2019 with valid travel signature.
  • If the J-1visa stamp has expired, EV's must obtain a valid J-1 visa stamp to re-enter the U.S.

What if I am traveling with a valid visa stamp from another employer?

  • If you recently transferred from another institution, please speak with an IO advisor about traveling with a visa stamp from the other employer

OBTAINING A J-1 VISA STAMP ABROAD

All J-1 visa stamps must be obtained outside the U.S.

If while applying for a J-1 visa stamp, your name is sent for a background check, there is very little the university can do to ameliorate the situation. 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 Delay Process.

REQUESTING IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS

Use our online International Scholar Document Request Form to request your immigration documents. As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you may request: 

Please plan ahead and allow two weeks for processing. The IO will notify you when your request has been processed.

J-2 DEPENDENTS

The J-2 visa category is for dependents (spouses or children) of the J-1 Exchange Visitor.  J-2 dependents are eligible for full-time or part-time study.  When J-2 dependent children reach the age of 21 years old, they will "age-out" of the J-2 visa category and will have to obtain their own visa status in an appropriate category.

J-2 dependents are eligible for full or part time employment with an Employment Authorization Document Card (EAD).  J-2 dependents must complete the form I-765 for J-2 employment authorization before beginning employment. If you would like more information on how to apply for J-2 employment authorization, please see our guide here.

All J-1 visa regulations which apply to the J-1 EV, also apply to the J-2 dependent including 24 month bars and 212 (e) home residency requirements.

If you would like your family (spouse and/or children) to join you in the U.S. on J-2 status, please complete the J-2 Request Form and submit them directly to the IO.