The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

In the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, foreign nationals may visit the United States temporarily to share special skills, including:

  • teaching
  • lecturing
  • studying
  • conducting research
  • consulting
  • training

Designated sponsoring organizations aid the entry of foreign nationals into the United States to participate in these programs. At the conclusion of the program, participants are expected to return to their home countries.

J-1 at Northern Arizona University

The US Department of State has designated Northern Arizona University as one of the J-1 program sites for salaried and non-salaried positions.

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These positions include:

  • professors
  • researchers
  • short-term scholars
  • specialists

Exchange visitors come with a temporary non-immigrant J-1 status, limited by the type of program and the invitation from the hosting department. The limits are as follows:

  • professors and researchers are allowed a maximum of five years in J-1 status
  • short-term scholars are allowed a maximum of six months
  • specialists are allowed a maximum of one year

Those who spend more than six months in J-1 professor or researcher status have additional restrictions about returning to the United States in J-1 status following the completion or ending of their program. The J-1 program cannot be used for tenured or tenure-track positions.

The hosting department is responsible for the official invitation, and for providing information and assistance to the visitor regarding:

  • office and lab space
  • equipment and computer access
  • travel to Flagstaff
  • housing
  • transportation
  • child care
  • health care providers
  • human resources
  • university/community orientation

Visitors are expected to participate in university activities and department and classroom presentations.

The International Scholar Adviser is responsible for:

  • issuing all J-1 immigration documents
  • advising on all immigration related concerns
  • providing health insurance information
  • determining compliance
  • assisting the host, visitor, and accompanying family as needed

The International Scholar Adviser is also responsible for maintaining current information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This is the process used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to issue all immigration related documents and to record specific information about the visitor’s:

  • program
  • financial support
  • address

Inviting a visitor

Contact the International Scholar Adviser to discuss your interest in bringing an international professor, researcher, or specialist to campus for a temporary position. If the J-1 Exchange Program is the best option, you will need to complete a five-step process.

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Step 1: Complete the DS-2019 Request Form (this will be sent to you as an email attachment). The DS-2019 is the U.S. Department of State document that the visitor needs to request a J-1 visa and enter the United States. This form is to be completed by you, the host, with the financial information and signatures from:

  • the chair
  • the dean
  • the director

The visitor must have at least $1,500 USD per month available for the program.

Step 2: Forward the Personal Information Form to the exchange visitor (this will be sent to you as an e-mail attachment). A scanned or faxed copy of the passport information page for the visitor and each accompanying family member must be included and returned to you.

Step 3: Submit the DS-2019 Request Form, financial information, and the Personal Information Form to the International Scholar Adviser. If the information meets the guidelines, the DS-2019s for the visitor and each family member will be issued, usually within two working days. The forms, a welcome/information letter, and a brochure from the Department of State will be returned to you to send to the visitor with your department letter of invitation.

Step 4: The exchange visitor will need to:

  • pay a $180 USD SEVIS fee
  • make an appointment at the U.S. Consulate
  • complete the visa application forms
  • pay the visa application fees

Information about this process will be sent to the visitor.

Step 5: Upon arrival at Northern Arizona University, the visitor must make an appointment with the International Scholar Adviser to check in. An appointment may be scheduled by calling the Center for International Education at 928-523-2409. Documents will be reviewed for the SEVIS compliance and health insurance requirement. Visitors who are employed by Northern Arizona University will be referred to Human Resources for:

  • payroll
  • benefits
  • ID number

Financial support

Evidence of financial support must accompany the request for the DS-2019.  A minimum of $1,500 USD per month must be available to the visitor. This may be:

  • Northern Arizona University salary
  • support from other organizations
  • salary from a home country institution
  • personal funds

Support for family is $500 USD per month for a spouse and $400 USD per month for each child.

Previous time in J-1 Status

If the invited visitor is currently in the United States in J-1 status or has previously been in a J-1 program, the applicant must provide evidence of this status by submitting photocopies of DS-2019s, along with passport stamps showing United States departure dates. The International Scholar Adviser will determine the visitor’s eligibility for:

  • a DS-2019
  • program transfer
  • other options

The United States has regulations about the amount of time a J-1 professor/researcher must spend out of the United States before returning again in J-1 professor/researcher status.

Two-year home country physical presence

If the exchange visitor is financed either by the U.S. government or home country government, or whose occupation is listed on the U.S. Department of State’s Skills List, the visitor is required to return to their home country for two years after completing the program.

Mandatory Health Insurance

All visitors and their J-2 dependents (spouse and children under 21 years of age) are required to have continuous health insurance that meets the program requirements.

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In the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, foreign nationals may visit the United States temporarily to share special skills, including:

  • teaching
  • lecturing
  • studying
  • conducting research
  • consulting
  • training

Designated sponsoring organizations aid the entry of foreign nationals into the United States to participate in these programs. At the conclusion of the program, participants are expected to return to their home countries.

Eligible for benefits

If the visitor is eligible for Northern Arizona University health insurance benefits, he or she will need to purchase a supplemental policy to meet the medical evacuation and repatriation requirements that are not covered through the university’s policies. 

Not eligible for benefits

If the visitor is not eligible for benefits, the J-1 can purchase a policy through Seven Corners. The cost depends on the age of the visitor and the number of dependents accompanying him or her.         

Pre-insured

If the visitor has health insurance he or she plans to use in the United States, a Verification of Health Insurance Form must be completed by the insurance provider. The International Scholar Adviser can provide this form to the visitor, and the vendor must return the form directly to the International Scholar Adviser for review and approval. If the policy meets the J-1 requirements, no other insurance will be required.

Visitor responsibilities

The visitor is responsible for all medical expenses and seeking reimbursement from the provider. It is the visitor’s responsibility to maintain insurance at all times and to provide the International Scholar Adviser with evidence of extension prior to the end of a current policy.  Visitors who fail to maintain the required health insurance for themselves and dependents will:

  • have their J-1 status terminated
  • cease their program at Northern Arizona University
  • be required to return home immediately

Change of address

The visitor is required to report all address changes to the International Scholar Adviser, who will make the change in SEVIS.

Occasional lectures

If the visitor is invited to present a lecture or participate in a project elsewhere, prior authorization for the opportunity must be given.

Travel

The exchange visitor may travel within the United States as long as he or she carries the DS-2019 and passport with I-94 Arrival/Departure card. If the visitor travels outside the United States, a travel signature is required on the DS-2019 to facilitate re-entry to the United States prior to the end of the program.

Extensions

Extensions are possible, depending on the type of program. The visitor must have evidence of extended health insurance when the request for the extension is approved.

Change of arrival plans

If the visitor is unable to arrive at the time stated on the DS-2019, contact the International Scholar Adviser with the updated arrival information.  It may be necessary to issue a new DS-2019 and change the arrival date in SEVIS. This should prevent problems requesting a visa or at the U.S. port of entry.

Transfer of program

It is possible for an exchange visitor to transfer from another university. Time spent in status at the other university will be deducted from the maximum time allowed for the program. If a Northern Arizona University sponsored visitor wishes to transfer to another university, written approval of this plan must be submitted by the host to the International Scholar Adviser before the transfer process can be initiated in SEVIS.

Departure

If the visitor leaves Northern Arizona University prior to the end date stated on the DS-2019, the host must contact the International Scholar Adviser for SEVIS notification. If the visitor completes the program on the date stated on the DS-2019, he or she and any dependents have an additional 30 days to prepare to leave the United States. During these 30 days, the visitor may not be employed or volunteer in a Northern Arizona University position.