J-1 Visiting Scholars

The J Exchange Visitor Program was developed to implement the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (the Fulbright-Hayes Act) of 1961. The overall purpose of the Act, and the objectives of the J 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."

There are many advantages to individuals and organizations who are part of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program including the facilitation of academic teaching and research, and many types of people-to-people cultural exchange activities. There are, however, a number of conditions and requirements that come with the use of the J-1 visa. Those who plan to participate in a J-1 Exchange, should make themselves familiar with those requirements before arriving in the U.S.

J-1 Scholar Eligibility

To be eligible for the J-1 Visiting Scholar Program, the exchange must meet the following basic requirements:

  • The prospective scholar and NNU department must have a mutual interest in collaboration in a research or teaching area.
  • The J-1 program may not be used for the sole purpose of employment, or for completely independent work with no relationship to the university.
  • Scholars must hold, at minimum, the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in their field; OR
  • Scholars must have the skills, experience or educational background appropriate for the exchange program activity.
  • Although there is no minimum English language requirement, scholars must have a sufficient understanding of English to be successful in the exchange program and for day-to-day living in the U.S.
  • There are limitations on holding a J-1 status repeatedly. See information on Scholar Categories and the 12/24-month bars.
  • The scholar must have adequate financial support for the exchange program.

The U.S. Department of State has established several categories within the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. The category assigned to an individual visiting scholar is based upon the scholar’s background, the purpose and academic activities at NNU, past visit history, the possibility of repeat visits to the U.S., and anticipated length of stay.

J-1 Scholar Categories

J-1 Visiting Scholars at Northwest Nazarene University will be placed in one of the following categories:

Research Scholar: An individual concerned primarily with conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project. A research scholar may also teach or lecture.

  • May be used for appointments of 3 weeks to 5 years duration.
  • Allows extensions up to the 5 year maximum.
  • Subject to a 24-month bar on return visits in the research scholar or professor categories after the end of the J exchange program.
  • May be able to return to the U.S. in a different J category or other types of non-immigrant status, such as F-1, B-1/2, H-1b, or visa waiver.

Professor: An individual primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting. A professor may also participate in research. (The category term “professor” does not refer to academic title or home country title.)

  • May be used for appointments of 3 weeks to 5 years duration.
  • Allows extensions up to the 5 year maximum.
  • Subject to a 24-month bar on return visits in the research scholar or professor categories after the end of the J exchange program.
  • May be able to return to the U.S. in a different J category or other types of non-immigrant status, such as F-1, B-1/2, H-1b, or visa waiver.

Short-Term Scholar: A professor, researcher, or a person with similar education or accomplishments on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills.

  • May be used for appointments of less than 6 months.
  • Cannot be extended beyond 6 months.
  • Is not subject to the 24-month bar on return visits as a J visiting scholar.

Changing J-1 Categories: A change of J-1 category is not allowed once the J-1 visiting scholar has obtained his/her J-1 visa from a U.S. consulate.

12/24 Month Bars

Time spent in the U.S. as a J-1 visiting scholar or J-2 dependent might affect eligibility for future J-1 status in the Research Scholar or Professor categories. The periods of ineligibility are referred to as the 12- and 24-month bars.

The 24-Month Bar

Any individual who participates in a J-1 exchange program in the Research Scholar or Professor categories on or after Nov. 18, 2006 is subject to the 24-month bar on repeat participation in those same categories, regardless of the duration of the exchange program. Scholars subject to the bar may not return to the U.S. as a J-1 scholar in the Research Scholar or Professor categories for a 24-month period. The 24-month bar goes into effect once an exchange program ends and the SEVIS record becomes “inactive.” The scholar must then wait 24 months before beginning a new program as a J Research Scholar or Professor. The bar does not prevent scholars from returning in the Short-Term Scholar or Student J-1 categories.

The 12-Month Bar

The 12-month bar prohibits scholars from beginning a new exchange program in the Research Scholar or Professor categories if they were in the U.S. for more than six months in any J status during all or part of the twelve-month period immediately preceding the start date of the new program. If any part of a previous J status was within the twelve-month period, the entire duration of the J status is counted, and if the J status is over six months, then the 12-month bar applies.

Exceptions:

  • J-1 transfers. Transfers between sponsoring institutions do not trigger the bar.
  • J status less than six months.
  • J status in Short-Term Scholar category.
  • Individuals subject to the 24-month bar (i.e. individuals subject to the 24-month bar are not additionally subject to the 12-month bar).

J-2 Dependents

Any J-2 dependent family members of a J-1 scholar subject to the 12- or 24-month bars are also subject to the same bar.

Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

The two-year home residency requirement is different and separate from the 24-month bar. Some scholars may be subject to one or both.

Two-Year Home Country Requirement

The two-year home country physical presence requirement (also known by its regulatory citation, “212(e)” applies to certain J-1 exchange visitors. Exchange visitors who are subject to the requirement must return to their home country of last legal residence for a two year period before they are eligible for certain US immigration benefits. While they are subject to 212e, exchange visitors are ineligible for the following:

  • They are NOT eligible for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status to permanent resident (immigrant/green card) status.
  • They are NOT eligible for an H visa (temporary worker), a K visa (fiancé), or an L visa (intra-company transferee).
  • They are NOT eligible to change their non-immigrant status within the US from J to any other non-immigrant category except A (diplomatic), G (international organization), or U (crime victim).

The requirement does not prohibit exchange visitors from returning to the US in any other non-immigrant status, such as B-1/B-2 tourist, WB/WT visa waiver or F-1 student.

Once the exchange visitor has fulfilled the two year home country physical presence requirement, the above restrictions are lifted.

Who is subject to the requirement?

J-1 exchange visitors will be subject to the 212(e) requirement if they meet any one of the criteria below:

  • Home Government Funding: J-1 visitors who receive funding directly from their home country’s government. Regional government funding does not apply.
  • U.S. Government Funding: J-1 visitors who receive funding directly from the U.S. government for the purpose of the exchange program, for example Fulbright grants.
  • Funding from an International Organization or Bi-National Commission: J-1 visitors who receive funding from International Organizations or Bi-National Commissions (organizations that receive their funding from government sources), such as, United Nations, NATO, or the European Community.
  • The Exchange Visitor Skills List: J-1 visitors whose area of specialization has been identified as being in short supply by the visitor’s home government.
  • Medical Education and Training: Any J-1 visitor is subject if s/he is a foreign medical graduate and came to the US to obtain graduate medical education or training.

J-2 dependents (spouse and children under age 21) are subject to the 212(e) requirement if the J-1 exchange visitor is subject.

Fulfilling the Requirement

To fulfill the home residence requirement, exchange visitors subject to 212(e) must reside and be physically present in their country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for a period of at least two years following departure from the US after their exchange program. The two years of physical presence do not have to be continuous. Separate periods of residence spent over time after the exchange program has been completed may be aggregated to establish two years. It is recommended that exchange visitors keep records of their home country residence in order to document fulfillment of the 212(e) requirement.

Note that if an exchange visitor returns to the US for a new J-1 exchange program that is subject to 212(e), the visitor will be subject to the two year requirement again.

Waivers of the Requirement

Under certain circumstances a J-1 exchange visitor who is subject to the two year home country physical presence requirement may apply for a waiver of the requirement. Receiving a waiver can have serious consequences, so careful planning is important.

Understanding SEVIS

SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, a database system that facilitates electronic reporting and monitoring of information of international students and exchange visitors for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State. SEVIS enables schools and exchange program sponsors to transmit information for the creation of Certificates of Eligibility (DS-2019 for J exchange visitors), maintenance of J-1 records, and the reporting of “events” (changes in program information). This information is used by U.S. government agencies to track visitor status, issue visas, and to determine eligibility for immigration benefits.

Exchange Visitor Program Contacts

Exchange Visitor Program - Department of State

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Department of State
State Annex SA-5, Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20522-0505

Phone: (202) 203-7131
Fax: (202) 203-7779
Email: jvisas@state.gov
Web: http://j1visa.state.gov

Northwest Nazarene University

Nancy Ayers – Responsible Officer: naayers@nnu.edu
Joe Willey – Alternate Responsible Officer: bwilley@nnu.edu
Dillon Luo - Director of Chinese Exchange and Cooperation: zluo@nnu.edu

Health Insurance Requirement

Because of the importance of having health insurance in the U.S. it is a legal requirement of your J-1 visa. You and any J-2 dependents are legally required by the U.S. Department of State to have insurance for the entire duration of your program – from the day you arrive to the day you depart. Failure to maintain insurance coverage will result in the termination of your J-1 program and status.

Northwest Nazarene University's health insurance program information and enrollment form.

Social Security and Tax Info

If you will be employed in the US you must have a Social Security Card. You must have an employer job offer letter before you can apply for a card. You may apply for a card at any Social Security office. They require you to bring your:

  • Employment authorization letter
  • Employer job offer letter, to include the title of your position, your start date, the number of hours you will work per week, and your supervisor's name and telephone number
  • Passport
  • I-94 Departure Card (white card from Customs) or printed copy of the electronic I-94 form (I-94 Replacement)
  • DS-2019 or I-20 Certificate of Eligibility form
  • Application for a Social Security Card

Be sure to GET YOUR RECEIPT as this is your only proof of employability until you receive your card in the mail. Be sure to provide the Social Security Office a valid mailing address on your application.

Social Security Office Location:
1118 South Kimball Ave
Caldwell, ID 83605.

Tax Information

April 15th is the deadline for reporting income from the previous year. Reporting can be done as soon as you get your tax documents from your employer. To find out about your requirements and responsibilities, please consult a tax advisor and read the information on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website: https://www.irs.gov/

IRS Income reporting information can be found:
International Taxpayers
Foreign Student and Scholars