Immigration Rules, Rights and Responsibilities for J-1 Exchange Visitors (in non-student categories)
This information is specific to J-1 Exchange Visitors in the program categories of: Research Scholar, Professor, Short-Term Scholar, or Specialist. It is designed to provide you with a basic overview of the J-1 Exchange Visitor program regulations as defined by the Department of State's (DOS) Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), and to help you understand your responsibilities for maintaining lawful immigration status as an Exchange Visitor.
SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)
Employment in the US
Expiration Date on Your DS-2019
Transfer to Different Sponsor
Completion of Program
Permitted Length of Stay
2-YR Home Residency Req.
Your Immigration Documents
Your Immigration Documents consist of:
- your passport;
- the US visa stamped in your passport;
- form DS-2019 issued by your Program Sponsor;
- form I-94, Record of Arrival and Departure, issued by immigration authorities upon arrival.
These documents are extremely important as they are evidence of your lawful status in the US. You will need to present these documents upon occasion, and will need to carry them with you if you must leave the country and wish to re-enter. We strongly recommend that you make photocopies of these documents to facilitate their replacement in case of loss.
Federal regulations require that your passport be valid at all times while you are in the United States. If your passport will expire while you are still in the US, you must contact the Embassy or Consulate of your home country to make arrangements to have your passport extended. You will not be permitted to re-enter the United States with an expired passport. The addresses and phone numbers of foreign embassies and consulates in the US are online. Visit the OISS website; click on information and resources, and scroll down to the section for foreign embassies to find the appropriate consulate for your country.
Your US Visa
In some cases, the date of expiration on your Form DS-2019 and the expiration date on your visa stamp may not coincide. Please look at the expiration date on your visa. If your visa expires while you are in the US, but your Form DS-2019 is still valid (your I-94 should be marked “D/S” which means it expires with the Form DS-2019 – see below), and you are maintaining your program objective, you may remain in the United States and will be in legal immigration status. If your visa stamp has expired and you depart the United States, however, you must obtain a new visa before attempting to re-enter the United States. In other words, because a visa is purely an entry document, you need a valid visa to enter the United States but not to remain here legally.
If you travel outside the US for any reason during your program, you must have your Form DS-2019 signed by your Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer before you leave. You will be required to present this signed form to the Immigration Officer when you re-enter the US.
Your I-94 Card
Your I-94 Card is a record of your arrival and departure. This card lists your name, date and place of admission to the U.S, your visa classification, and the date of expiration. All J-1 exchange visitors should have the notation "D/S" on their I-94 cards instead of an actual date of expiration. The “D/S” stands for "duration of status" and means that you are permitted to legally remain in the US as long as you have a Form DS-2019 with unexpired program dates and are maintaining your program objective. (Your program dates can be found in section # 3 of your DS-2019.) Make sure that your program dates have not expired. If you need to have an extension of your program, you must talk to the department or faculty member to whom you report and ask them to contact the OISS to arrange for an extension. Do not attempt to travel outside the US with an expired DS-2019 as you will not be permitted to re-enter.
Please see the blue information sheet given to you at orientation for specifics about SEVIS.
You are only permitted to be employed or receive compensation for services performed for your Program Sponsor, and you are only permitted to perform services (or “work”) until the expiration date listed on Form DS-2019.
If you are asked to perform services (for example, earn an “honorarium”) by another academic institution or organization on a short-term basis, and if the services you will perform are directly related to your program objective, you must apply to your Program Sponsor for permission before you accept the offer. You will need to provide a letter from the outside institution describing the nature of your work, and a letter from your UNH supervisor indicating how you will benefit from this particular activity. If you accept payment for services without obtaining advance permission from your Program Sponsor, you will violate your immigration status.
The end date on your Form DS-2019 (section #3) is the last day you are permitted to perform any services (“work”) in the United States. Regulations permit you to remain in the US for an additional thirty days beyond your expiration date. You may use this thirty day period to prepare for your departure, or to travel in the United States. If you travel outside the US during this thirty day period, however, you will not be permitted to re-enter as a J-1 Exchange Visitor. You may be able to return as a tourist if you have proper documentation as a tourist.
Within the US: You have the right to travel freely within the United States provided you maintain your legal J-1 status. Carry your passport and immigration documents with you.
Outside the US, returning to the same Program Sponsor: In order to avoid problems re-entering the country, consult with your program sponsor before you leave the United States. You will need to have your DS-2019 signed and may also need a letter verifying your status as an exchange visitor. You may also need to obtain a new US visa.
Outside the US, returning to a different Program Sponsor: You must consult in advance with your current Program Sponsor about your proposed travel and transfer to a new program sponsor. Your program sponsor will be able to alert you to possible problems you may encounter. If the change is permissible, you must obtain a new Form DS-2019 from the new Program Sponsor to which you will transfer before you attempt to re-enter the US.
You may be able to transfer from your present Program Sponsor to a different Program Sponsor provided you qualify and follow certain procedures. You must consult your current Program Sponsor to notify them that you are considering a transfer. Your present Program Sponsor will be required to transfer your record in SEVIS to your new Program Sponsor, which will then give you a new Form DS-2019 no earlier than the effective date of the transfer. Thus, travel between employment with different Program Sponsors might well be impossible.
Your Program Sponsor is required by the DOS to keep them informed of your activities while you are an Exchange Visitor. This means that you must notify your Program Sponsor when you have completed your program. Once you have completed your program, you have an additional thirty days within which to depart the US. (If you end your program early, before the date of expiration on the Form DS-2019, you are not entitled to the grace period, but instead must leave the US as quickly as possible.) Your Program Sponsor is required to notify the DOS of any early departure from the program. If you choose to remain in the US for more than 30 days following the end of your program, you must apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service for a change of visa status, or you will be in violation of immigration laws and could under certain circumstances be subject to deportation and/or be barred from re-entering the US for three years.
You have the right to remain in the US to complete your program objective (provided it does not exceed the total length of time permitted by your program category) and you adhere to all regulations of your J-1 status.
If it is necessary for you to remain in the US beyond the expiration date listed in section #3 of your Form DS-2019 in order to complete your program objective, you and your hosting UNH department have the right to request an extension of your stay. You must contact your Program Sponsor at least sixty days before your expiration date to request an extension. The actual request for your extension must come from your host department. Providing you submit all of the necessary documentation requested by your Program Sponsor, have not exceeded the maximum allowable stay for your program category, and have maintained lawful J-1 immigration status, you will be considered eligible to receive an extension.
Many J-1 Exchange Visitors are required to return to their home countries for a period of two years after completion of their program objective before they can return to the US in certain other non-immigrant classifications. If you are subject to this requirement, you will not be able to apply for a change from J status to any other status from within the US
In most cases, if you are subject to this requirement, it will be noted on your J-1 visa as "subject to 212e" or "not subject to 212e." It might also be noted on your DS-2019 in the lower left-hand corner. If you are not sure whether you are subject to this requirement, ask your Program Sponsor or the OISS.
The DOS requires all Exchange Visitors and their accompanying dependents to purchase and maintain appropriate health insurance for the duration of their stay in the US in Exchange Visitor status. It is a serious violation of program regulations not to comply with this requirement. The DOS requires that you be dismissed from the program for willful failure to carry the necessary insurance coverage. If dismissed, you will be required to leave the US immediately or you will be considered to be unlawfully present.
You were provided with a list of health insurance requirements prior to the issuance of your original Form DS-2019 along with a list of several health insurance carriers. You are required to provide proof of insurance coverage within 30 days of arrival at UNH, when requesting the issuance of documents for an extension of stay, or for a Form DS-2019 for your dependents.
It is your responsibility to comply with all J-1 program and immigration regulations and to maintain lawful immigration status in the US. Failure to maintain legal immigration status in the United States will nullify your visa and your permission to remain in the country. Remaining in the United States beyond your date of authorized stay (plus grace period, if applicable) could subject you to a bar from re-entering the US for a period of up to 10 years. In addition, violating the terms and conditions of your immigration status might prevent you from obtaining a visa to enter the US at any US Consulate other than the one in your home country.
Additional information about the Exchange Visitor Program, as well as counseling and assistance, is available form the OISS. We are here to support and guide you through the complex maze of US immigration laws, and we are available to answer any questions you might have. We cannot help you, however, if you instead listen to the advice of friends or do not seek our advice. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or require assistance.
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