J-1 Visiting Scholar Immigration Regulations

Arrival of a J-1 Scholar

You must check in with ISSS within 15 days of your program start date. This includes all J-1 scholars (paid or unpaid by the university). If your SEVIS record is not activated within 30 days of the program start date, you are out of status and must leave the country. This start date is found on your form DS-2019.

Note: If you are unable to make the arrival date listed on your DS-2019, the host department must contact ISSS so that your entry date can be deferred in the SEVIS system. If this is not done, and you check in beyond the 30 day grace period, there will be no way to activate your record in SEVIS. It is, therefore, critical for you to be in contact with your host department and ISSS to confirm your arrival date.

To check in, come to ISSS Monday through Friday from 10-2 pm . Please tell the front desk that you are here for “scholar check in.” Upon check in, you must provide ISSS with your U.S. address, your foreign address and an emergency contact in the United States .. Your local address must describe a residence. It cannot be a P.O Box or an office address. It can be a “care of” address. Bring your DS-2019, your I-94, and your passport to check in. If you have dependents, you will need to bring their documents as well.

Maintaining Status

All J-1 Exchange Visitors must report to ISSS upon their arrival at FIU. Exchange visitor scholars will enjoy the benefits of their status by complying with the immigration regulations governing this category.

You and your dependents must have current passports at all times. An expired passport will mean you are out of status. If you as the J-1 are out of status, so are your J-2 dependents.

You must always be in possession of a valid DS-2019, which accurately reflects your purpose for being at FIU. If it is close to expiring, you should request an extension from your host department.

You must come to ISSS to have your DS-2019 signed if you will travel outside the United States . Signatures are valid for 6 months.

You must also report any life event that may affect your immigration status such as birth of a child, marriage, change of legal name, divorce or death. This rule also extends to J-2 dependents.

You must report any change of address to ISSS within 5 days.

Reinstatement to legal status will rarely, if ever, be granted in the U.S. to scholars who lose their status. If you are out of status, you must return home with no guarantee of being issued a visa to return.

If you are working at FIU you will need a social security number. If you do not have a social security number, come to ISSS for further information.


When your program is finished you must check out at ISSS. ISSS is required to report your program end date to the federal government. This could be the end date on your DS-2019 or it could be a prior date if you complete your program early.

30 Day Grace Period

Following the completion of the J-1 program, the period defined on the Form DS-2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) allows participants a 30-day travel period commonly referred to as the “Grace Period.” During this 30-day grace period, participants are no longer in J-visa status, and are under the jurisdiction of the USCIS. The USCIS grants this period to allow participants to settle their affairs and to prepare to return to their home countries. Program participants may no longer continue and/or complete exchange activities, nor may they work. Although participants may travel in the United States , it is recommended that they do not travel beyond the borders of the United States as they may not be permitted reentry.

Extension of Stay

Request for extension must be made by your host department using the
Extension Form for DS-2019.

Your program must be extended before the end date on your current DS-2019. If the end date lapses then no extension is possible and you must leave the United States .

To ensure that this process runs smoothly, have your host department send ISSS any extension paperwork at least a month prior to the program end date. ISSS will then verify that you are eligible for an extension and process the paperwork.

J-1 scholars, students, and dependents (J-2s) are required to have major medical insurance (Health Care and Insurance) for the duration of the program.

Transfer to Another J Program

J-1 scholars who plan to transfer to another institution must inform ISSS of their intent to do so prior to transferring so that this can be properly noted in the SEVIS system. They need to download the form Transfer Out Form and complete it. Under the SEVIS system, the current J program and the transferring J program will work together to complete the transfer process. Your FIU department supervisor will be contacted to confirm that you have informed the department of your intent to transfer.

Travel and Entry into the United States

In order to gain entry into the United States , you will need a passport and a visa. The passport is a legal document issued by your country of citizenship. This passport must be kept valid at all times. A United States visa is the stamp on a page of your passport that allows you entrance to the U.S. All participants in this program will need a J-l exchange visitor visa. If you wish to leave the country after your visa has expired, you must obtain a new visa in your country before you return to the United States . Your visa cannot be renewed while you are here. To obtain your new visa you must present your DS-2019 Form to the American embassy or consulate in your home country along with you funding documents and/or employment verification. Your copy of the DS-2019 form must be signed by the Director of International Student & Scholar Services (RO) before you leave the United States. Before you leave the United States permanently, you will need to get a sailing permit, or certificate of compliance. This document can be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is a statement of proof that you have paid your taxes and do not owe the United States government any money.

Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement

Some participants in the J-l exchange program may be subject to a two year home residency requirement (212-E). If you are subject to this requirement and you want to change your status or become a permanent resident of the United States , you must comply with the requirement or obtain a waiver prior to acquiring your new status. To satisfy the requirement, you must return to your home country for two years.

Not all J-l visitors are subject to the two- year home residency requirement. However, if you fall under the following three categories, you are subject to this requirement:

  • Your participation in the program was funded in whole or part, directly or indirectly, by a U.S. government agency or an agency of the government of your home country.
  • The skills developed as an exchange visitor are on the skills list of your country.

NOTE: If your skill was listed after you came to the U.S. as a J-l exchange visitor, you may be exempt from the requirement.

  • You are a foreign medical graduate.

Under certain circumstances you may be eligible to waive the two year home physical presence requirement. The four types of waivers are as follows:

  • No objection waiver
  • Exceptional hardship waiver
  • Persecution waiver
  • Interested government agency waiver

You may also consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable on the subject of J-1 waivers.

Please note that the waiver application is the exchange visitor’s responsibility. For more info, click here.