J-1 Scholar Status

General Information

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program operates under the auspices of the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges. The Responsible Officer (RO) at Wesleyan University is the Assistant Director of Employee Benefits in the Human Resources Office at Wesleyan University. This website has been prepared to provide you with general information about the J-1 scholar status to help you understand the benefits and responsibilities of this status.

Maintaining Your J-1 Status

As a J-1 visiting scholar at Wesleyan University, you have been admitted for a specific period of time to engage in a particular research or teaching activity, as described on your DS-2019 form. You must take care during your stay to maintain lawful J-1 status, as failure to do so can have serious long-term consequences for you. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure that your stay in the U.S. remains valid:

  • Be aware of the expiration date of your status. This is not your visa expiration date; it is the ending date in section 3 of your DS-2019 form. If your appointment at the University is extended, the hiring department must contact your RO in Human Resources Office before the current expiration date to have the DS-2019 form extended as well.
  • Do not accept unauthorized employment. The only activity you are permitted is the one described in section 4 of the DS-2019 form. You must consult your RO beforehand if you wish to take up any other work during your stay. (See information on "incidental employment.") 
  • If offered a comparable position at another college or university, discuss your plans with the RO to make sure that the required transfer procedure can be accomplished.
  • Comply with United States health insurance requirements for J-1 visa holders and their families. Willful disregard of these requirements will result in termination of your program and your J-1 status.
  • Keep your passport valid. Passports can be renewed by your consulate in New York or Boston.

Length of Stay

All Exchange Visitors will have "D/S" (Duration of Status) noted on their Forms I-94 (arrival/departure card). "D/S" means that your stay is valid for the duration of the J-1 status, which is the actual end date on the DS-2019 form.  You have an additional thirty-day grace period from the end date of DS-2019 to stay in the United States for travel, enjoyment or to prepare for departure. The thirty days grace period is NOT for employment, extensions, or transfers.

Exchange visitor professors and research scholars may be authorized to participate in an Exchange Visitor Program for the length of time necessary to complete the program providing the program does not exceed three years.

A J-1 specialist may be authorized to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program for the length of time needed to complete the program, which may not exceed one year.

A J-1 short term scholars is limited to a maximum of six months.

Extension of Stay

To request an extension of your J-1 status up to the maximum period allowable under the regulations, you must bring to the RO a letter signed by the supervising faculty member stating the proposed dates of the extension and the amount and source of the funding. The RO will prepare a new DS-2019 reflecting the extended period. Your request for an extension must be completed before the end date as noted on your DS-2019 form.

An extension beyond the three year period allowable for researchers and professors is possible if the extension is for the same sponsor's program and if it is to provide time to complete your teaching and/or research responsibilities prior to departing the U.S. Under these circumstances, the RO can approve an extension of program for a professor or research scholar for an additional six (6) months; a request for more than six months beyond the three (3) years must be made to the DOS Exchange Visitor Program. Applying for this additional time does not guarantee that it will be approved.

Transfer of J-1 Program

An Exchange Visitor may transfer from one designated program to another designated program.  The RO will verify your immigration status and program eligibility, prepare an DS-2019 form and you must secure the written release of the current sponsor in Section 8 of the new Form DS-2019. Program transfers for professors or research scholars must be effected from within the U.S. and within the three years allowed to Exchange Visitors in these categories. The transfer procedures must be completed prior to the end date as noted on the form DS-2019.

Incidental Employment

J-1 scholars are expected to conduct the exchange activity at the location(s) listed on the DS-2019 form. Additional employment is not permitted, unless the proposed employment is incidental to the activity listed on the DS-2019 form and is pre-approved by the RO.

J-2 Status and Employment

The spouse and/or minor children of a J-1 exchange visitor hold J-2 status. If you wish to have your family join you at Wesleyan University in J-2 status, you must show that you have sufficient finances to support the additional expense. Persons in J-2 status may apply to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services for permission to work in the U.S. For further information contact your RO.

Check separate page for Two Year Residency Requirement