J-1 Visa – General Information
- J-1 Status
- SEVIS Fee
- Obtaining a J-1 Visa Stamp in Your Passport
- Security Checks
- Dependents Entering the U.S.
- Mandatory Health Insurance
- Mandatory Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Insurance Coverage
- Two Year Home Residency Requirement
Non-immigrants who are in "J" Status are participants in the Exchange Visitor Program, whose primary purpose is to promote mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries through educational and cultural exchange. Therefore, individuals in "J" Status are called "Exchange Visitors." Although there are several categories under which an Exchange Visitor may participate at UT Southwestern Medical Center, the majority of our Visitors are Research Scholars or Medical Trainees. For application procedures, please click on the appropriate J-1 Visa category for your visit.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented a $180 fee for all J-1 applicants. The fee will be used to cover the cost of the SEVIS system.
To apply for a J-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, an applicant must first obtain a Form DS-2019 from this office. Procedures for obtaining this form can be found in Research Scholars, Short-term Scholars and Medical Trainees in the J-1 Visa Categories section.
Each person in your family who will come to the U.S. as your dependent will need a J-2 visa stamp in their own passport. In order to apply for the visa stamp, each family member must have a DS-2019 issued in their own name.
Please see travel.state.gov/visa/tempvisitors.html for State Department Information on how to apply for a visa.
See travel.state.gov/visa/questions_embassy.html for information about the U.S. embassy where you will make application. Please see SEVIS FEE to learn how to pay this fee before making your visa application.
NOTE: While the International Office will provide you and your dependents with sponsorship documents used to apply for their entry visa, we cannot guarantee that the visa will be issued by the embassy. You and your family members must provide information to satisfy the consular official of your intent to return to your home country after your stay in the US. Any documentation you can provide regarding your ties to the home country (i.e. proof of real estate ownership or financial holdings, proof of employment upon your return, etc.) will be particularly helpful. Evidence of strong family ties and bank records indicating that you will maintain some financial activity may also be used to support your non-immigrant intent.
Security checks during application for a visa stamp are very common for all people studying or working in scientific fields. They are even more common in specific countries such as China, India, Korea and Middle Eastern countries. While these checks are usually completed within three weeks, a few have taken as long as six months, and there is nothing Southwestern can do to shorten the period of time it will take. Please plan accordingly and let your supervisor know about this possibility.
J-1 Exchange Visitors may bring their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 to the U.S. Dependents are issued J-2 visas and are subject to the regulations of the Exchange Visitor Program. They may arrive with the J-1 or join him/her at a later time.
Exchange Visitors are permitted to bring dependents to the US only if financial resources are adequate for their support. Each dependent must have health insurance coverage while in the US that meets the minimum standards established for all "J" visa holders.
Once your dependents arrive in the US they may apply to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services for employment authorization. This application process usually takes several months and the International Affairs Office will provide you with the necessary forms. Applicants must clearly demonstrate that the income earned will not be for the support of the Exchange Visitor.
When you obtain a J-1 visa stamp in your passport, the consular official will return the DS-2019 to you. You will be required to present it with your passport to the US Immigration Service inspector at the port of entry. After inspecting your DS-2019, the Inspector will issue you an I-94 Departure and Arrival Card. Please check to be sure that your I-94 card is marked "J-1" and "D/S" (Duration of Status). The "D/S" notation permits you to remain in the U.S. until the end date noted on your most current DS-2019, plus a 30 day grace period. If your dependents accompany you, their I-94s should be noted J-2 and D/S, thereby allowing them to remain in the US for the same period as the J-1.
When entering the US to begin a new program you must enter within 30 days of the start date of your DS-2019. If you are unable to do so, you must contact your UT Southwestern immigration advisor to obtain a new DS-2019.
If you decide to travel outside of the U.S. and re-enter after you have begun your program, an International Affairs Office representative must sign your current DS-2019 before you depart. This signature verifies you are in good standing at UT Southwestern. Failure to obtain this signature could result in problems at the US port-of-entry upon your return. In addition to the signed DS-2019, you will need a valid passport and visa stamp. Information regarding visa stamp renewal is available in the International Affairs Office.
ENTERING THE U.S. - ECFMG-SPONSORED MEDICAL TRAINEES
ECFMG sponsored medical trainees usually receive DS-2019 forms that have already been endorsed for travel. If yours is not endorsed in the box on the right side of the DS-2019, please contact the International Office one month prior to travel to get an endorsed form.
Exchange Visitors and their dependents in the US are required by federal law to maintain health insurance coverage that meets the following minimum standards:
- Medical benefits of at least US$50,000 per accident or illness;
- A deductible (the amount for which you are responsible) not to exceed US$500 per accident or illness;
- Repatriation of remains coverage in the amount of US$7,500;
- Expenses associated with medical evacuation of the visitor(s) to the home country in the amount of US$10,000.
There are a variety of ways for our visitors to fulfill this requirement:
- Full-time, salaried employees and fellows will be able to purchase UTSW health insurance on themselves at minimal cost. Health insurance for dependents may be fairly expensive. You can get some information about coverages at www.utsystem.edu/egi. For a summary of the MONTHLY costs, click here.
- Full-time fellows receiving stipend payments may purchase UTSW health insurance for themselves and their dependents at their own expense.
- For visitors who will not be receiving payments from UTSW, there are a number of private insurance companies that will provide coverage. Below are some popular companies that provide medical/evacuation repatriation insurance plans. We also have brochures of these companies when you arrive at the International Office.
- Visitors who are not receiving payments from UTSW may also bring insurance from their home country. In order to satisfy the insurance requirements the policy must be in English and the insurance amounts must be provided in U.S. dollars. Usually an English copy of the Declarations page will be sufficient if it shows:
- names of the insured people on the policy
- descriptions, amounts and dates of coverage
- U.S. health insurance policies do not provide coverage for repatriation and evacuation. Visitors may purchase a policy through the International Office at a minimal cost.
- FOR POSTDOCS ONLY: The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) and Garnett-Powers and Associates have joined together to offer a health insurance plan to full, individual NPA members who do not have access to health insurance. Benefit coverage for the new plan is provided through Student Resources, a United Healthcare company specializing in university health programs.
Willful violation of this requirement will result in the termination of your program.
All J-1 visa holders are required by law to have Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Insurance Coverage. This coverage is included in the Compass and Collegiate Care Policies mentioned above. If the Exchange Visitor has a UT Southwestern employee health insurance policy, they will also need to purchase this additional coverage.
Trawick International offers an inexpensive policy for which you can register online. The cost for one year of coverage is $21 for the J-1 or $42 for the J-1 and family. Online Enrollment
We also have brochures of the coverage including International SOS at the International Office front desk.
An Exchange Visitor may transfer from one institution to another if the purpose of the transfer is to continue or to complete the objective for which s/he entered the U.S. Transfers require the prior approval of the international office at your current institution.
Also known as 212(e), this regulation requires some Exchange Visitors to return to their country of national origin or last legal permanent residence for two years before obtaining H-1B or U.S. permanent resident status.
Exchange visitors become subject to 212(e) if they receive direct/indirect government funding from their country or the U.S.; or possess skills required by their country, as designated by the U.S. Department of State Skills List. All medical trainees sponsored by ECFMG are subject.
The consular official may mark the bottom left-hand corner of your DS-2019 or make a notation on your visa stamp that you are or are not subject to 212(e). Likewise, the port-of-entry immigration officer may mark the bottom left-hand corner of your DS-2019. Please raise any questions about the requirement with the consular official when you apply for a visa stamp or with the immigration officer when you enter the U.S. If you believe an error was made, please alert the International Affairs Office as soon as you arrive.
If you are subject to 212(e), it is sometimes possible to get that requirement waived. Information regarding waivers can be found at travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1288.html