From an immigration perspective, it is acceptable for all J-1 Exchange Visitors to continue their work from abroad for the next several months. They are permitted to continue their work from abroad unless restricted by Export Controls or any other CU rules that would forbid performing work from abroad. ISSS strongly encourages departments to contact the Export Control office with any questions about export control issues that may apply to a J-1 researcher or professor while working abroad. ISSS cannot advise on the specifics of export control issues.
In addition to export control issues, please consider the following if a J-1 visa holder in your department leaves the U.S. with the intent to continue their work from abroad:
- The J-1 exchange visitor must be able to continue with the program objective and/or research duties that they were doing prior to the departure from the U.S. If this is not possible, please contact ISSS as soon as possible.
- The current end date of the J-1’s DS-2019. Each J-1 visitor is permitted to continue their research or duties for CU, and return to the U.S., until the end date on that form. If an extension is needed, please contact ISSS. If the DS-2019 expires while the J-1 exchange visitor is outside of the U.S., it is very likely that they will be unable to use a new J-1 Research Scholar category within the next 2 years. Please contact ISSS for more information.
- If a J-1 exchange visitor leaves the U.S. and intends to return prior to the end date on their DS-2019, the J-1 must also have a valid J-1 visa for re-entry. Please note that J-1 scholars could experience delayed entries back into the U.S. if they are required to get a new visa. Getting a new visa is a process that takes a lot of time and with the current situation, delays are very possible.
Another option for J-1 Scholars is to ask for an extension if they are eligible for it. J-1 Research Scholars have a maximum program duration of five years, and J-1 Short-term Scholars have a maximum duration of only six months. Getting an extension may prevent the scholar from having to return home and be exposed to higher levels of the coronavirus than they would by staying here in the U.S. If they are not eligible for an extension, they do still have a thirty-day grace period where they can stay in the United States, although they cannot work or be paid for work during this time.
While we are all mostly working from home, it is important that the J-1 Scholar can still pursue their J-1 activity while they are in the United States. It is important that departments and hosting faculty members ensure that a J-1 scholar can still pursue their activity even if they do not have the same access to laboratories and other campus facilities. If they cannot, then it may not be possible for them to continue their J-1 program.
The suggestions above have been made with guidance for how to proceed from the U.S. Department of State. Their guidance is subject to change. If any of the information above changes, ISSS will reach out to campus departments as soon as possible.
Please pay special attention to our J-1 Scholars working in your departments during this time to make sure they have a successful J-1 Exchange Visitor experience.
ISSS is happy to answer any questions or concerns.