J-1 Status for Scholars

Most visiting international 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. 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 is a condition of maintaining J status.

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) relies 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 U.S. government.

Departments who want to bring in visiting scholars should review the following procedural information and complete the request form for a DS-2019 (formerly known as the IAP-66).

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 $2,000 and imprisonment up to five years (Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1546). Departments will understand why ISSS must have careful documentation for every application we file for any kind of immigration benefits.


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 J-1 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 J-1 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 J-2 dependents are not required to pay this fee. For more information, please go to our SEVIS fee page.

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 the 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:

jvisas@state.gov, or

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