The Catholic University of America

J-1 Exchange Visitor Status

Purpose of J-1 Program

The Exchange Visitor Program is a public policy tool created under the terms of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 as a way to promote mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries. It should not be used for the following purposes:

  • to fill long-term positions
  • for an individual being hired in a tenure-track position
  • to avoid the wage requirements of the H-1B.


Categories and Durations

CUA has been authorized to bring in individuals as visiting professors, visiting research scholars, short term scholars, and specialists. Individuals may come for a minimum of two weeks to teach, to conduct research, or to share their expertise and may either be paid by CUA or by their home institutions.


J-1 Category


Time Limits


primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting. May also conduct research.

5 years

Research Scholar

primarily conduct research, observe, or consult in connection with research project. May also teach.

5 years

Short-term Scholar

professor or research scholar on short-term trip to lecture, observe, consult, train, or demonstrate special skills.

6 months


allow an expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill to observe, consult or demonstrate special skills

1 year


Eligibility Requirements

Exchange visitors must have the education, experience, and proof of English language proficiency needed to participate in the academic activities in which they intend to engage. CUA host departments must evaluate the individual's academic and professional credentials to determine whether the individual has the credentials needed to participate successfully in the program.


Restrictions on Repeat Participation for Professors and Research Scholars

Since this is an immigration classification intended to promote educational and cultural exchange, there is an expectation that J-1 status holders will return home to apply the knowledge and skills gained in the U.S. As a result there are certain restrictions placed upon individuals who have previously been in the U.S. in J-1 status. These restrictions apply to individuals who have completed their previous J program and seek to return to begin a new program as either a research Scholar or as a professor.

Twelve-month bar: a person who previously held J status in any category other than short term scholar for more than six months cannot begin a new J-1 program in either the Research Scholar or Professor classification until the individual has been outside the U.S. for twelve months or more. (please note, this bar does not prevent someone who is actively engaged in a J program from transfering his/her J-1 sponsorship to CUA.

Two-year bar: a person who previously held J-1 status (regardless of how long he/she was actually present in the U.S.) as either a professor or Research Scholar cannot return to the U.S. to begin a new J-1 program as either a Research Scholar or as a Professor until he/she has been outside of the U.S. for two years. This is a different requirement from the two-year home residency requirement that attaches to some J status holders.


Required Funding Levels

It is important that any international scholar coming to the U.S. have the financial resources to support themselves and any accompanying dependents during their stay in the U.S. Using the U.S. poverty guidelines as a starting point, ISSS has determined it will not issue immigration documents unless an individual can show they have at least 125% of the U.S. poverty level.


Medical Insurance Requirements

Federal law requires all individuals in J status to have medical insurance for the duration of their entire program. The law sets the following minimum amounts of coverage:

  • $100,000 medical benefits per person per accident/illness
  • $25,000 for repatriation of remains, in event of death in U.S.
  • $50,000 for medical evacuation in event of illness
  • $500 or less in deductible per accident/illness

The willful failure to maintain insurance requirements will result in the termination of CUA's J-1 sponsorship for the individual. Click here for a list of insurance companies whose policies meet the requirements listed above.


Required Documents

The request form consists of two distinct parts. The PDF forms were created in Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional and can be completed electronicly, but need the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have Adobe Reader 7.0, click here to download a free version of Adobe Reader 7.0 :

Initial CUA J-1 sponsorship

Extension of CUA J-1 sponsorship



The Sponsorship Process

The sponsorship process for someone who does not already hold J-1 status:

  1. CUA department and the exchange visitor complete their respective portions of the J request form and submit it to ISSS with supporting documentation
  2. ISSS creates record in Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and issues Form DS-2019.
  3. ISSS returns Form DS-2019 and relevant information to requesting School/Department to be sent to the Exchange visitor
  4. Exchange Visitor or CUA School/Department pay SEVIS fee
  5. Exchange Visitor files visa application (if outside the U.S.) or change of status application (if inside the U.S. in another status)

Sponsorship process for someone who already holds J-1 status in the same category:

  1. CUA department and the exchange visitor complete their respective portions of the J request form and submit it to ISSS with supporting documentation
  2. Exchange visitor informs current J sponsor of the need to transfer J sponsorship to CUA
  3. Current J-1 sponsoring institution releases Exchange Visitors SEVIS record to CUA
  4. ISSS creates record in Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and issues Form DS-2019.
  5. ISSS returns Form DS-2019 and relevant information to requesting School/Department to be sent to the Exchange visitor.


Costs and Timeframes

Cost: $180 SEVIS Fee (must be paid prior to submission of visa application) plus cost of visa application and any reciprocity fee. The SEVIS fee can be paid by anyone. Learn how to pay the fee here.

Timeframes: J-1 status can be fairly quick. after receiving completed and duly signed portions of the request form and supporting documentation, ISSS usually turns around J-1 requests in a matter of days. Thereafter, it is a metter of government processing times for the application.


SEVIS Reporting Requirements

CUA must report the following information on each J-1 sponsored by the University:

  • Exchange Visitor's arrival in the U.S.
  • any changes in Exchange Visitor's name and home address
  • any changes in the activities
  • any extensions of stay
  • early departure from the U.S.


Applying for a Visa

Citizens of all countries except Canada are required to have the appropriate visa in their passports if they are to enter the U.S. in a specific nonimmigrant classification - be it to study, to work or conduct research, or even to be a tourist. In certain limited circumstances, citizens of some coutnries are exempt from have a visitors visa when coming to the U.s. as a visitor for business or for pleasure for periods of 90 days or less.

Visas can only be obtained at a U.S. consulate outside the United States. If you have a valid visa in your passport for the immigration status you are seeking, you generally will not need to obtain a new one. If the visa is expired or if you changed your immigration status inside the U.S., you will need to apply for a new visa.

Application procedures vary considerably from one country to another. Most consulates interview prospective students. If you have a visa interview, it will be short. During the interview, you must make a good impression. Be positive and respond to the questions with clear, concise answers. If your spouse and children will remain in your country, be prepared to explain how they will support themselves in your absence. For the most up to date information, contact the appropriate consulate.

To learn how to apply for a visa, visit

Learn about the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program for Professors and Scholars.


J-2 Dependent Work Permission

For information on eligibility requirements and the application process for gaining work permission as a J-2 dependent, click here.