Visa Compliance & Requirements

J-1 Exchange Visitors (EV) must abide by certain visa requirements and rules, which are listed below. Also, there are additional rules for those in the Student Intern, and Research Scholar or Professor categories.


J-1 Exchange Visitors may receive a salary or stipend from various parties. They can receive funding from Northwestern, the government, private organizations, their current place of employment (outside the U.S.), or personal funds but the funding must meet the current living expense requirements.  This requirement is currently $1,765/month or $21,180/year and does not include childcard or healthcare costs.

Maintaining J-1 status

Enter the country in the correct J-1 status

  • Present your DS-2019 and visa stamp to immigration official to ensure you are entered in J-1 status correctly.
  • Even if you have a valid B-1 visa or are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, it is important that you always enter in J-1 status to maintain this status. If you do not enter in the correct status, you will need to leave the U.S. and reenter.

Maintain valid immigration documents

  • Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months into the future at all times.
  • Your DS-2019 dates should be valid. Apply a DS-2019 extension before the expiration date.
  • Your visa stamp must be valid for entry into the U.S. It is not a problem if the visa stamp expires while in the U.S
  • Access your Electronic I-94 record online each time you enter the U.S. and save it for your records.

Maintain accurate records

If your residential address changes, email your assigned IO Advisor within 10 days.

30-day grace period

  • Enter/exit the country within 30-days before/after the program.
  • You are not allowed to work or conduct research during the grace period.

Providing off-campus lectures or consultations

Off-campus lectures/consultations at other institutions are allowed as long as they do not interfere or delay the J-1 program objectives. You must acquire written approval from the International Office.

Please e-mail your assigned IO advisor prior to any off-campus lecture/consultation for written approval before the lecture/consultation. Provide the following information so that we may write you a letter:

  • Name of host institution
  • Name of main contact at host institution
  • Address at host institution
  • Date(s) of talk/lecture/consultation
  • Name (if any) of presentation

The two-year home residency requirement - 212(E)

After completion of the J-1 program, you must spend two years physically present in the country of citizenship or last legal permanent residence. Time does not have to be continuous. The 212(e) will apply to your record until the requirement has been waived or fulfilled.

The following exchange visitors are subject to the requirement:

  • Any EV whose field of study is listed on the State Departments's Exchange Visitor Skills List. Double-check the Skills List even if your documentation does not reflect subjectivity.
  • Any EV receiving U.S. or home government funding specifically targeted to sponsor the exchange.
  • Any EV receiving graduate medical education or training.

Until the requirement is fulfilled:

  • You are 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.
  • You are not eligible for lawful permanent residence status.
  • You are not eligible to apply for a Change of Status within the U.S., any change of status must be done by exiting and re-entering.

Applying for a 212(e) waiver

The waiver process should be initiated and filed by you, not by the International Office. More information on this waiver process can be found on the Department of State's website.

Important notes about the 212(e) waiver:

  • Ineligibility for extension: Once you receive a written waiver recommendation from the US Department of State, you cannot extend the current end date of your DS-2019.
  • Transferring after waiver: While not recommended, if you are a J-1 scholar at another institution who has already received the 212e waiver but would like to transfer your record to Northwestern, it is possible to transfer the J-1 provided the end date remains the same on the current DS-2019.