J-1 Visa – General Information

J-1 Status

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.

Return to Top


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented a $180 fee for all J-1 applicants to cover the cost of the SEVIS system.

Return to Top

Obtaining a J-1 Visa Stamp in Your Passport

To apply for a J-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, an applicant must first obtain a Form DS-2019 from the Office of International Affairs.

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 the State Department website for how to apply for a visa and for information about the U.S. embassy where you will make application. Please also see SEVIS fee to learn how to pay this fee before making your visa application.

NOTE: While the International Affairs Office will provide you and your dependents with sponsorship documents used to apply for their entry visa, we cannot guarantee that the embassy will issue the visa. 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 U.S.

Any documentation you can provide regarding your ties to your home country (i.e. proof of real estate ownership or financial holdings, proof of employment upon your return, etc.) can 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.

Return to Top

Security Checks

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. UT Southwestern can't do anything to shorten the review process. Please plan accordingly and let your supervisor know about this possibility.

Return to Top

J-1 Dependents (J-2)

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 the J-1 student at a later time.

Exchange Visitors can only bring dependents to the U.S. if financial resources are adequate for their support. Each dependent must have health insurance coverage while in the U.S. that meets the minimum standards established for all J visa holders. 

Once your dependents arrive in the U.S. 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.

Return to Top

Entering the U.S. 

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 U.S. 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 is marked J-1 and D/S (Duration of Status). The D/S notation allows 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, which allows them to remain in the U.S. for the same period as the J-1.

When entering the U.S. 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.

Traveling Outside U.S.

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 U.S. 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 Affairs Office one month prior to travel to get an endorsed form.

Return to Top

Mandatory Health Insurance

Exchange Visitors and their dependents in the U.S. are required by federal law to maintain health insurance coverage that meets the following minimum standards:

There are a variety of ways visitors can fulfill this requirement:

Other private health insurance plans may meet the J-1 insurance requirement.

For assistance in enrolling in Academic Health Plans, or questions regarding alternative private health insurance plans, please contact International Affairs at InternationalAffairsOIA@utsouthwestern.edu.

Willful violation of this requirement will result in the termination of your program.

Return to Top

Mandatory Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Insurance Coverage

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. One year of coverage costs $21 for the J-1 or $42 for the J-1 and family.

Return to Top

J-1 Transfers

An Exchange Visitor may transfer from one institution to another if the transfer enables the Exchange Visitor to continue or to complete the objective for which the student entered the U.S. Transfers require prior approval from the International Affairs Office at your current institution.

Return to Top

Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

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 or 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 to this requirement.

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 have the requirement waived

Return to Top