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International Student and Scholar Services


J-1 Status for Scholars

Most visiting foreign faculty members and researchers come to the United States on J-1 exchange visitor visas. The Exchange Visitor Program is run by the U.S. Department of State and is designed specifically for the purpose of international educational exchange. The regulations are periodically reviewed and revised. Some of these revisions are of interest to faculty who bring in exchange visitors to collaborate or teach at the University. Of particular importance for the visiting scholar is the requirement that he or she carry adequate health insurance for himself or herself AND for all J-2 family members. This has become a condition of maintaining J status; the visiting scholar is not employable at the University unless he or she has health insurance.

                                                                                                                               Immigration law defines people in J status ("exchange visitors") as persons who have the intent to return to their home countries when they have completed their stated program. Departments and prospective visiting foreign scholars should keep these distinctions in mind in preparing all documents dealing with nonimmigrant J status and in all relationships with consular officers and immigration officers. The penalty for knowingly providing false information in an immigration application is a fine of up to $2000 and imprisonment up to 5 years (Title 18, US Code, Section 1546). Departments will understand why ISSS must have careful documentation for every application we file for any kind of immigration benefits.

Please Note: The University assumes responsibility of some magnitude in undertaking visa sponsorship for a visiting international scholar (“exchange visitor”) in the J visa category. All Exchange Visitors on a CU Boulder J program must have at least the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree. International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) depends on departments to provide complete and accurate information about your visitor and his/her funding. We, in turn, are responsible for guaranteeing this information to the US government.

Departments who want to bring in visiting scholars should review the following procedural information and complete the request form for a

DS-2019, the document that your visitor will need in order to apply for a

J-1 visa. Your visitor can come in a few different categories of the J-1 visa program, specifically as either:

  1. Research Scholar
  2. Professor
  3. Short-Term Scholar or
  4. Specialists.

There are limitations on each different category, but departments should be particularly aware of the restrictions on the Professor/Research Scholar categories. See:

Restrictions on the n J-1 Professors and Research Scholar Categories

Please review the J-1 Procedures for Departments Bringing in Scholars

NOTE: BEGINNING 9/10/12, departments will be charged a $100 nonrefundable fee for ISSS to process a DS2019 document for the visitor. This fee applies to new DS-2019s and extensions of current documents.  Departments can pay this fee by supplying the department's speedtype on the Department Request for DS2019 (see below).. IMPORTANT NOTICE: This fee cannot be charged to a Fund 30 or 31 speedtype.

Request for the Form DS-2019 For Your J-1 Visitor: (NEW!)

Departments must initiate the paperwork to have the form DS2019 issued to their incoming J-1 visitor. There are two parts of the form; one for the department to complete and one for the scholar to complete.  These two forms need to be sent to ISSS TOGETHER:

  1. Department Request for DS-2019  Adobe Fillable PDF (PLEASE PROVIDE SPEEDTYPE ON THIS FORM!)
  2. Visiting Scholar Information  Adobe Fillable PDF

Limitations of the Exchange Visitor Program:

The Exchange Visitor Program does carry with it some limitations which can, in some cases, be severely restrictive to departments and to prospective visiting scholars. These limitations are the following:

  • Limited length of time to remain in the United States

We can bring in your scholar in a few different J categories, depending on the main purpose of your Exchange Visitor to come to the U.S. Each category has a different maximum period of program participation:

Professor - 5 years

Research Scholar - 5 years

Short Term Scholar - 6 months

Specialist - 1 year

  • Changes in category are difficult to obtain.

Although provided for in the regulations,(e.g. professor to student), changes in category within the U.S. are in reality difficult to obtain. Departments should refrain from encouraging visiting scholars to earn degrees when they have entered the United States in a scholar (e.g. professor or researcher) category.

  • Bar to Repeat Participation.

For Exchange Visitors in the Professor or Research Scholar category, there is a 2 year bar to repeat participation in these categories (J Research Scholar or J Professor) once they have completed a J program as a Professor or Research Scholar.  For more information, please see our Q&A Handout.

This complication has many permutations; please consult with ISSS for more information. An understanding of this regulation helps to explain why we ask departments to find out their incoming scholar's previous visa status.

Those who are subject to this requirement may not change their nonimmigrant classification in the United States and are not eligible for status as permanent residents or H-1B temporary workers until they have lived in their country of last legal permanent residence for a period of two years after completing their exchange visitor programs in the United States. Exchange visitors who are subject to this requirement are:

    1. financed in whole or in part by the US or home country government funds. (Grant funding does not count)
    2. those who are from countries where their specific skills are needed, as determined by the Exchange Visitors Skills list as published by the Department of State;
    3. medical doctors who come to the United States for advanced medical education or training.

If these restrictions are not inconsistent with the plans of the department or the prospective visiting scholar, and if the department has no plans to retain the scholar beyond the stated time limits, J-1 exchange visitor status is usually most appropriate.

For more information regarding the J-1 Exchange Program, please refer to the following pages:


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a database to keep track of all J visa holders, called the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). All schools that have J1 Exchange Visitors are required to use this database to issue forms and report certain events to DHS. DHS began collecting a SEVIS fee on September 1, 2004, to cover the costs of running the SEVIS program.  The SEVIS fee is $180 for J1 Exchange Visitors.  This fee is charged to all J1 Exchange Visitors whose form DS2019 was issued on or after September 1, 2004 to begin a new program. The SEVIS fee is generally not charged to those transferring from one program to another.

Family members accompanying the principal Exchange Visitor and entering as J2 dependents are not required to pay this fee. For more information, please go to our SEVIS Fee page http://www.colorado.edu/oie/isss/sevisfee.html

Work Permission for J-2 Dependents:

J-2 dependents can apply for work permission from USCIS . Application forms are available in our office; stop by and pick one up if your J-2 dependent would like to apply.

Immigrant Status

All foreign scholars who come to the University on permanent faculty appointments must eventually obtain immigrant status. ISSS will provide information and assistance with permanent residence or immigrant status. In negotiating with foreign scholars for positions as permanent faculty or researchers, departments must always keep in mind the delays and difficulties of obtaining immigrant status. It is important not to make promises that the University cannot keep. If a department is offering a foreign individual a tenure-track or tenured position, J status in the professor/researcher category of the J visa is NOT appropriate. Consult with ISSS.


The Exchange Visitor Program at U.S. Department of State is available for your concerns and feedback regarding the J exchange visitor program. They may be reached by email or mail at:



mailing address :

Office of Exchange Coordination & Designation
Exchange Visitor Program, Department of State
ECA/EC/AG-SA-44, Room 732
301 4th St., SW
Washington, D.C.20547

University of Colorado at Boulder
Office of International Education