General Information for Exchange Visitors
The U.S. Department of State's Exchange Visitor Program "fosters global understanding through educational and cultural exchanges. All exchange visitors are expected to return to their home country upon completion of their program in order to share their exchange experiences.The Exchange Visitor (J) non-immigrant visa category is for individuals approved to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs." More information can be found at the J Exchange Program website or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Participation as a J Exchange Visitor or J Dependent in ANY category may subject the J-1 and J-2 to future bars to repeat program participation as a J Research Scholar or Professor. The bars are explained here.
J-1 Exchange Visitors must take care to arrive no more than 30 days prior or 30 days after the start date indicated on their Form DS-2019. Exchange Visitors who do not arrive in the United States within 30 days following their Form DS-2019 start date will have their J program automatically terminated by the SEVIS system. If arrival is delayed more than 15 days past the start date indicated on the Form DS-2019, please contact the Office of International Services immediately so program dates can be amended!!
Upon arrival in the United States and check in with the Office of International Services, the J-1 Exchange Visitor's program must be validated in the SEVIS system. If this is not done within 30 days following the start date on the DS-2019, the program will automatically be terminated by the SEVIS system. Please ensure that check-in with International Services is a priority upon arrival in the United States so your program can be validated before the deadline.
Grace Period Before Program Start Date: J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents may enter the United States up to 30 days prior to the start date indicated on their Form DS-2019. No program activity or employment may begin prior to the start date indicated on the DS-2019 form.
Grace Period Following Program End Date: J-1 Exchange Visitors who are in valid J-1 status (SEVIS record has not been terminated/no status violation has occurred) are permitted a 30 day grace period following the program completion date listed on their most recent DS-2019. During this 30 day period:
the EV's SEVIS record is INACTIVE
the EV may physically remain in the United States in J-1 status,
the EV is permitted to apply for a change of status if eligible.
the EV is NOT permitted to leave the United States and re-enter using expired DS-2019
the EV is NOT permitted to transfer to another J Program Sponsor
the EV MUST maintain the required insurance for themselves and any J-2 dependents
Local Address Updates
U.S. federal regulations require all J-1s to report a change of address within 10 days of the address change. The U.S. federal government requires J-1s to report this directly to the Office of International Services. International Services is then required to provide this and other scholar data to the federal government electronically through the SEVIS system. No other university office is authorized by the federal government to update this data in SEVIS, though other offices, such has HR and/or the Registrar should also be notified of this change. Please notify us of any change in address by email with a completed OIS Biographical Update Form.
Reporting an address change to the U.S. Postal Service, Human Resources or to your Department does NOT fulfill the obligation to report directly to OIS for reporting in SEVIS.
22 C.F.R. § 62.77(b) states "An exchange visitor (and the accompanying spouse and any dependent children) who failed to submit a change of current U.S. address as required under §62.63 is in violation of the Exchange Visitor Program regulations and is not eligible for reinstatement. The Department will deny any such application for reinstatement."
J-1s must apply for an extension before their DS-2019 form expires if they intend to continue their program activity at LSU HSC New Orleans past the end date on their current form. J-1s in the Research Scholar or Professor categories currently have a maximum of five years to complete their J-1 program. Short-term scholars have 6 months, and no extensions are available past 6 months. The J-2 dependents’ program duration cannot exceed that of the J-1.
The two year home residence requirement is NOT an eligibility requirement for participation in a J Exchange Visitor program. The purpose of this requirement is to have your home country benefit from your experience in the United States by requiring you to return home with the knowledge and skills gained from your program.
You may be subject to the two-year home residence requirement, as set out in Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, for one or more of the following reasons:
•Skills List- The education, skill, or training that you are pursuing in the United States appears on the Exchange Visitor Skills List for your home country;
The 2009 skills list (current) can be found here along with information about how to determine which skills list applies to your program and if you may subject you to this requirement based on participation in a former or future J exchange visitor program.
•Government funding- You received funding from the United States government, your home government, or an international organization, specifically in connection with participation in the Exchange Visitor Program; or
•Foreign medical graduates- You received graduate medical education or graduate residency training as a J-1 Alien Physician.
You are subject during your initial entry as a J. Change of program and/or entry in different immigration status does not erase 212e. Accompanying J-2 dependents are subject to the requirement if you are subject.
You may use the OIS guide to help determine if you are or will be subject to 212(e) following your J program.
Notations on form DS 2019 or entry visa are preliminary in nature, and are occasionally wrong. If you believe you should not be subject, you may request an Advisory Opinion from the Waiver Review Division who will review your program and documents and make a final determination about if you are subject to the requirement.
If you are subject to the home country physical presence requirement, you are NOT eligible to change your status while in the U.S., for lawful permanent residence (green card) regardless of marriage to a U.S. citizen, or for H (H1B and H-4) or L visas, until you have been physically present in your home country for a total of at least two years following completion of your J program; OR until you have received a waiver of the requirement. Also, you are not permitted to change status in the United States, except to A or G. You may leave the United States and apply for any other non immigrant visa types, except permanent residency, H, and L.
Fulfilling the 212e Requirement
As a general rule, you fulfill the requirement by physically staying in your home country for an aggregate period of two years. The two years do not have to be consecutive, you may accumulate a total of two years using several stays in your home country for a shorter period.
Applying for Waiver of the two year requirement
Only the J-1 principal can apply for waiver. In exceptional cases, such as in case of a death or divorce, or where a J-2 child turns 21, the J-2 can apply for waiver on their own, with the department of state acting as an "Interested Government Agency". A waiver granted to the J-1 applicant covers J-2 dependents for that program, unless a J-2 dependent had J-1 status him or herself and was subject to the requirement.
Applications to waive the home residence requirement are considered on one of the following:
1. Statement of no objection from the home country
2. Extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child
3. Fear of persecution
4. Interest of a U.S. government agency
A detailed procedure for filing a waiver application can be found on the Department of State website here.
Effect of Receiving a Waiver Recommendation
When the Department of State completes reviewing your application, they will send a waiver recommendation letter to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and a copy to you and your program sponsor. The USCIS makes the final decision on your waiver application.
Once the waiver recommendation has been given, there can be no extension of Form DS-2019 beyond the end date on your form. Also, you may not transfer your J-1 program after the DOS waiver recommendation is issued, so be sure to consider the appropriate timing of a waiver application. You are also ineligible to apply for Reinstatement.