J-1 Exchange Visitor Categories

Florida International University hosts over 200 visiting scholars annually in the J-1 category. J-1 Exchange Visitors visit the university for as little as three weeks to a maximum of 5 years in paid or unpaid appointments.

Participants use the Form DS-2019 (formerly IAP-66) to apply at the American embassy or consulate for the J-1 visa to enter the United States. Exchange Scholars are classified into different categories as stated by the Department of State J-1 Visa Section of their website.

The categories sponsored by FIU are:

Research Scholar

This category is for a foreign national who enters the United States for the primary purpose of conducting research, observing or consulting in connection with research projects at research institutions, corporate research facilities, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited academic institutions, or similar types of institutions. A research scholar may also teach or lecture, unless disallowed by the sponsor.

The research scholar’s appointment to a position shall be temporary, even if the position itself is permanent.

Incidental lectures or short-term consultations are permitted with the approval of the responsible officer so long as they are directly related to the objectives of the participant’s program, and do not delay the exchange program’s completion date.

Research Scholars must:

  • Not be a candidate for a tenure track position;
  • Not have participated in and completed a research scholar program within the last 24 months preceding the beginning date of their new program’s commencement;
  • Not have participated in a J-Visa program for all or part of the 12-month period immediately preceding the start date of a research scholar program unless they meet one of the following exceptions:
    • The participant is currently in a research scholar program and is transferring to another institution in the United States to continue their current J-1 program;
    • The participant’s prior physical presence in the U.S. on a J-visa program was less than six months in duration; and
    • Any prior participation was as a short-term scholar.

Professor

The professor category is for a foreign national who enters the United State for the primary purpose of teaching, lecturing, observing or consulting at accredited post-secondary academic institutions, museums, libraries or similar types of institutions. Professors facilitate the exchange of ideas and research in a variety of fields between people of the United States and people of other countries.

A professor may also conduct research, unless disallowed by the sponsoring organization. A professor may also conduct research, unless disallowed by the sponsor. Maximum stay is five years.

A Professor must

  • Not be a candidate for a tenure track position;
  • Not have participated in and completed a professor program within the last 24 months preceding the beginning date of their new program’s commencement;
  • Not have participated in a J-Visa program for all or part of the 12-month period immediately preceding the start date of a professor program unless he or she meet one of the following exceptions:
    • The participant is currently in a professor program and is transferring to another institution in the United States to continue his or her current J-1 program;
    • The participant’s prior physical presence in the U.S. on a J-visa program was less than six months in duration; and
    • The prior participation was as a short-term scholar.

Short-term Scholar

Professors, scholars, and other accomplished individuals travel on a short-term visit to lecture, observe, consult, train, or demonstrate special skills at U.S. research and academic institutions. Short-term scholars may also engage in collaborative research. Short-term scholars may be brought for one day to a maximum of six months; however, extensions are not permitted beyond the 6-month maximum stay, and change of category is not permitted.

College and University Student

Students study at a U.S. degree-granting post-secondary accredited academic institution, participating in a degree,  or non- degree program.

  • A student in this category must be financed directly or indirectly by the U.S. government, the government of their home country, an international organization of which the United States is a member by treaty or statute, or supported substantially by funding from any source other than personal or family funds;
  • Program must be carried out according to an agreement between the U.S. government and a foreign government, or according to a written agreement between American and foreign educational institutions. 
  • The student must pursue a non-degree program and must be enrolled full-time in a prescribed course of study. The maximum duration of a non-degree program is 24 months inclusive of academic training.
  • University/college students may engage in degree-granting programs until completion or non-degree granting programs for no more than 24 months.
  • Employment: Students may engage in part-time employment under certain conditions, including good academic standing at their host institution.
  • Academic training: Students may participate in academic training with or without wages or other remuneration during their studies with the approval of the academic dean or adviser and the responsible officer at their sponsor organization.

Specialist

Specialists are experts in a field of specialized knowledge or skills who provide opportunities to increase the exchange of ideas with American counterparts. Participants experience an interchange of knowledge and skills among foreign and American specialists who are defined as experts in a field of specialized knowledge. The maximum duration of this program is one year. This category is for foreign nationals who are experts in a field of specialized knowledge or skill, coming to the United States for observing, consulting, or demonstrating their special skills

Specialists must:

  • Be experts in a field of specialized knowledge or skill;
  • Seek to travel to the United States for the purpose of the interchange of knowledge and skills among foreign and American specialists by observing, consulting or demonstrating their special knowledge or skills; and
  • Not fill a permanent or long-term position of employment while in the United States.