The Exchange Visitor Program exists as part of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. The Act promotes the mutual understanding of people of the United States and other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange. The Exchange Visitor Program provides eligible foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in exchange programs in the United States and then return home to share their experiences. The United States Information Agency (USIA) is the government agency that administers the Exchange Visitor Program.
There are several important regulations governing the exchange visitor program. J-1 Exchange Visitors agree to comply with these regulations by signing the backs of the white and pink copies of Form DS-2019 (formerly called IAP-66). Below are some of the requirements for maintaining J-1 status in the United States :
Passport: Passports are issued by the Exchange Visitor's government. Each country has specific instructions for passport issuance. Passports must be valid AT ALL TIMES and must be valid AT LEAST six months into the future. Specific information about passport renewal procedures may be obtained from your country's embassy or consulate in the United States .
Form DS-2019 (formerly the IAP-66): Form DS-2019 is a "Certificate of Eligibility" for participation in the Exchange Visitor Program. Form DS-2019 is issued by the school based on admissibility to a specified program of study, proof of financial support and other eligibility requirements for J-1 status in the United States . J-1 students may not change programs, majors or engage in employment of any kind unless it is noted on Form DS-2019. Exchange Visitors must consult the program sponsor's Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) prior to making any program changes. Form DS-2019 expires on the date noted in box 3 . Completed requests for extension of stay must be received by Visa and Immigration Services NO LATER THAN 2 MONTHS PRIOR TO EXPIRATION of Form DS-2019.
Form I-94: Form I-94 (arrival/departure record), is a small white card issued by an Immigration Inspector at a port-of-entry into the United States . This form records your date of admission into the United States , your admission number and the approved length of stay in the United States . The length of stay for J-1 Exchange Visitors is typically recorded as "D/S" or "duration of status" (D/S is defined below). Exchange Visitors who receive date specific expiration dates on Form I-94 should contact at Visa and Immigration Services. Form I-94 is the document that gives you "J-1 status" in the United States . This important document must be retained until it is collected by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to record your departure from the U. S.
Visa: A visa stamp is issued by a U.S. consular officer outside of the United States , based on qualifications for entry into the United States in a particular category. A visa permits a citizen of another country to arrive at a port-of-entry into the United States to be inspected by an Immigration Inspector. The Immigration Inspector issues Form I-94, giving "non-immigrant status". The duration of the visa validity, and the number of entries allowed, is based on reciprocal agreements between the United States and other governments. A visa stamp need only be valid for entry into the United States . However, the Form I-94 and Form DS-2019 must remain valid for the entire length of stay in the United States .
Exchange Visitor: an exchange visitor is a foreign national, selected by a sponsor, to participate in an exchange visitor program. The exchange visitor enters the United States in J-1 status. Any accompanying spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may apply for J-2 status.
Sponsors: USIA designates sponsors to administer individual exchange visitor programs. The State University of New York at Stony Brook sponsors Exchange Visitor Program P-1-4840. Other sponsors of Stony Brook students include IIE, USIA, USAID, LASPAU, AMIDEAST and others. Students sponsored by other programs must obtain extensions of stay, employment authorization and travel signatures from the Responsible or Alternate Responsible Officers of those programs.
Responsible Officer (RO) and Alternate Responsible Officers (ARO): Sponsors appoint Responsible Officers (RO) and Alternate Responsible Officers (ARO) to advise and assist exchange visitors, issue Certificates of Eligibility (Forms DS-2019), and conduct official communications with USIA. When questions arise about regulations, the initial and primary contact for J-1 students is the Responsible or Alternate Responsible Officers. Students should contact Elizabeth Barnum, Assistant Dean for Visa and Immigration Services and RO, with any questions relating to the Exchange Visitor Program.
J-1 Student Status: J-1 students must be registered for a full course of study and making satisfactory progress toward the educational goals noted on Form DS-2019. In addition, a J-1 student must have a valid passport, valid Form DS-2019, valid Form I-94 and insurance coverage. An J-1 Exchange Visitor is subject to termination from the program, and is "out of status", for willful failure to comply with the regulations, such as the insurance requirement, engaging in unauthorized employment, or for failure to pursue the activities permitted under his or her program.
Duration of Status: Duration of status (D/S) is defined as the amount of time required to complete a specific program, plus 30 days to depart the country. The amount of time is initially defined on Form DS-2019 in box 3 , plus any approved extension of stay. Exchange Visitors who end their participation in a program prior to expiration of Form DS-2019/IAP-66, have 30 days to depart the country from the date of completion of the program, not from the end date on Form DS-2019/IAP-66.
On-Campus Employment: J-1 students MUST obtain written permission from the RO or ARO prior to engaging in employment of any type, including on-campus employment. Before authorizing on-campus employment, you must present a job offer letter noting the type of employment and number of hours per week, and a letter from your academic adviser indicating that this employment will not impede progress toward obtaining your educational objective. On-campus employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session.
Some types of on-campus employment are noted on Forms DS-2019/IAP-66, such as Teaching Assistantships (T.A.), Research Assistantships (R.A.) or Graduate Assistantships (G.A.). These forms of employment MUST be noted on Form DS-2019 prior to accepting T.A., R.A. or G.A. employment. Please request an updated Form DS-2019 for additions or changes to financial support. Employment from all sources must not exceed 20 hours per week when school is in session.
Employment for Economic Hardship: The RO or ARO may grant employment authorization for economic hardship in rare cases when a student experiences unforeseen changes in economic circumstances after arrival in the United States . Consult with a RO or ARO for details on applying for employment authorization if you experience unforeseen economic hardship. As with all types of J-1 student employment, written permission must be given prior to engaging in any employment. Employment from all sources is limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session.
Academic Training: Permission to engage in employment for Academic Training may be granted by the RO or ARO. This permission must be obtained in writing prior to beginning employment for Academic Training. Employment for Academic training must be related to the course of study. Your academic adviser must recommend the training and certify that the training would not be available in your home country. Academic Training may be authorized for up to 18 months. For postdoctoral appointments, Academic Training may be authorized for 36 months. Students contemplating Academic Training may obtain additional information from Visa and Immigration Services.
Two-year Home Country Residence Requirement (212e): Certain Exchange Visitor participants, and accompanying J-2 family members, must return home for at least two years after completing their educational objective before they can change or adjust to certain nonimmigrant or immigrant statuses. This requirement applies to those (1) whose J-1 program has been financed to some extent by the U.S. government or their home country, (2) whose skills are needed in their home country as indicated in the Exchange Visitor Skills List or (3) whose purpose in coming to the United States is to receive graduate medical education or training.
Insurance: All J-1 Exchange Visitors and J-2 family members must be covered by medical insurance, including coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. According to the regulations, J-1 students and accompanying family members in J-2 status, may be terminated from the Exchange Visitor Program for failure to maintain insurance coverage. Details about insurance coverage and enrollment are available in Visa and Immigration Services.
Extension of Stay: J-1 students requiring additional time to complete the educational objective may apply for an extension of stay at least two months prior to the ending date noted in box 3 of Form DS-2019 or IAP-66. An extension of stay is effected when a new Form IAP-66, with an extended end date, is issued and USIA is notified of the extension. The pink copy of the DS-2019 or IAP-66 is issued to the student. In order to prepare Form DS-2019 for extension of stay, evidence of satisfactory progress toward the educational objective, proof of financial support, a completed request from and verification of insurance coverage (including J-2 family members) must be submitted to Visa and Immigration Services two months in advance of the expiration date on the current Form IAP-66. Extension of stay forms and instructions are available in Visa and Immigration Services .
Transfer to Another School: J-1 Exchange Visitors may transfer to another sponsor's program, if the new program is in keeping with his/her original program objective. J-1 Scholars must submit a Transfer Report. Please speak with an International student adviser for more information.
Notification: J-1 students are required to notify the Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officers (ARO) of their programs:
Travel Outside of the United States : In order to return to the United States following travel outside of the United States , you must have a valid IAP-66 or DS-2019 endorsed on the back by your RO or ARO, a valid passport and valid visa stamp in your passport. Graduate students must bring a "letter of good standing" from their program verifying that they are enrolled full-time and making satisfactory progress toward the degree; undergraduates must bring a copy of their current schedule showing full-time enrollment. This documentation, with your IAP-66 or DS-2019 should be submitted to Visa and Immigration Services 2-3 weeks before intended travel.
For travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean: You will need a valid passport, valid Form IAP-66 or DS-2019 signed by your RO or ARO, an I-94 marked J-1 for D/S and a J-1 visa stamp in your passport. For travel to Canada , Mexico and the contiguous territories of the Caribbean , only, you will be permitted to return to the United States with an expired J-1 visa in your passport, provided that the travel is for less than 30 days and you retain your valid Form I-94. Check with the Canadian consulate in New York for Canadian visa requirements.
For further information: There are additional requirements set forth in the Exchange Visitor Program regulations that apply to you. For further information you may review the regulations at http://exchanges.state.gov/education/jexchanges/ or contact:
Elizabeth Barnum, Ed.D.
Assistant Dean for Visa and Immigration Services and Responsible Officer P-1-4840
International Programs and Services, E5310 Melville Library,
State University of New York at Stony Brook
Stony Brook , NY 11794-4433
Telephone: (631) 632-4685
Fax: (631) 632-7064
Some of the information in this information sheet is quoted from the USIA brochure "Welcome to the Exchange Visitor Program".
To maintain J-1 Exchange Visitor status, the following documents must be valid and reflected accurately in the SEVIS system:
Exchange Visitors are required to present these documents in the Visa and Immigration Services (VIS) office within 10 days of every entry or re-entry into the U.S. so that their program can be revalidated in SEVIS.
Program Activity – You must be engaged in the program noted in part 4 of Form DS-2019. An evaluation form should be completed by the Exchange Visitor and certified by the department sponsor every 6 months. When it is submitted to the Visa and Immigration Services office the Responsible Officer (RO) or an Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) must validate the program activity in the SEVIS system.
As students, you are required to be registered full-time for coursework relevant to the timely completion of your academic program. For most students, this means you must be registered for no fewer than 12 credits. Graduate students at the G-2 and G-4 levels are only required to carry 9 credits. Graduate students should take care that they are registered for graduate-level courses. While you may get permission to take an undergraduate course, you will need to carry a full course load plus the undergrad course.
The RO/ARO may authorize a student to carry fewer credits in a few special circumstances. In your final semester of study you may be granted written permission to carry an academic underload, but you must complete the program that semester, or you will be “out of status”. If you are suffering from serious illness or academic or mental health problems that are making it difficult to carry a full course load, please meet with the RO/ARO immediately. It is important to address such problems early, and document the need to temporarily carry an underload before attempting to drop or stop attending classes. Underload authorizations are documented in SEVIS.
If you are considering a second major or a certificate program to enhance your academic experience, this must be discussed with the RO/ARO and addressed in SEVIS. Any proposed change of activity must be approved in advance and in writing by the RO or ARO. A new SEVIS DS-2019 will be issued.
Students visiting in “Student Non-degree” category are not eligible to earn degrees from Stony Brook University . If you wish to change from a non-degree program to a matriculated program, please meet with the RO/ARO as soon as possible. Many students will need to change to a different non-immigrant status before matriculating.
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Addresses – Exchange Visitors and dependents are required to maintain a permanent address outside the U.S. AND must report changes to their local and mailing addresses to Visa and Immigration Services within 10 days of the change. Report changes of LOCAL and/or MAIL address to the university on the SOLAR system, AND complete an address change form in the Visa and Immigration Services office. Your program may be terminated for failure to comply with this reporting requirement. This is an “event” that must be reported in SEVIS.
Exchange Visitors subject to provisions for Special Registration must report to Visa and Immigration Services and update the SOLAR system within 10 days, as noted above, AND file Form AR -11SR to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Change of Status - J-1 Exchange Visitors may be ineligible for a change of status within the U.S. , if they are subject to provisions of 212(e). However, if 212(e) does not apply, they may apply for a change of immigration status that will allow them to remain in the U.S. and participate in another immigration status, under regulations for that category. To discuss whether a change of status is appropriate for you, or to receive further instructions, please contact the Visa and Immigration Services(VIS) office to arrange a meeting with an International Student and Scholar Adviser.
Departure - All Exchange Visitors should report their imminent departure to the RO/ARO by completing a “Departure Record” available in the Visa and Immigration Services office. This departure date must be recorded in SEVIS. Remember, if you are finishing your program early, you may need to apply to the RO/ARO for the 15-day grace period to remain in the U.S.
Dependents - Dependents must be issued separate Forms DS-2019 for entry into the U.S. in J-2 status, and are subject to all provisions of law governing the J-1 Exchange Visitor program, including insurance requirements, 212(e), and the need to report changes of address, etc. They may be subject to provisions for Special Registration independently of the J-1 principal. Dependents can be authorized for employment by applying for an Employment Authorization Card (EAC) from USCIS, and will need to also apply for a Social Security card once they have the EAC in-hand.
Duration of status - Duration of status (D/S) is defined as the amount of time required to complete a specific program, plus 30 days to depart the U.S. The amount of time is initially defined on Form DS-2019 in part 3, plus any approved extensions of stay. Exchange Visitors who end their participation in a program prior to expiration of Form DS-2019, have 15 days to depart the country from the date of completion of the program, not from the end date on Form DS-2019. You must apply to the RO or ARO to be eligible for this 15-day grace period.
Employment – Exchange Visitors cannot work without the specific, written authorization from the RO or ARO in advance, unless specifically authorized on the SEVIS Form DS-2019. To work, J-1 visitors need a letter of authorization from the RO/ARO AND a Social Security card. J-2 family dependents will need to apply for an EAC (Employment Authorization Card) and then a Social Security card.
Students may be given permission to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and up to 40 hours per week during winter and summer breaks. Please see separate instructions regarding the procedure to apply for employment on campus.
J-1 students in matriculated programs are eligible for Academic Training relating to their field of study. This permission can be granted for off-campus employment, but many students find interesting opportunities right here at Stony Brook or our facilities in Brookhaven National Lab and Cold Spring Harbor Labs. Students are limited to an aggregate total of 18 months in Academic Training. Doctoral students engaged in post-doctoral research may be granted a total of 36 months of Academic Training. Please see separate instructions regarding the procedure to apply for Academic Training.
Students facing unforeseen economic hardship may be eligible for a work authorization under special USCIS rules. Please meet with the RO/ARO if you are having serious problems because of unexpected medical costs, or other extenuating circumstances. This employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and up to 40 hours per week during winter and summer breaks.
End Program – An Exchange Visitor's program participation can end in a nonadverse termination for the following reasons:
These events must be reported in SEVIS. (Also, see “Termination”.)
Extension of Stay - Students requiring additional time to complete their original academic program objective should apply for an extension of stay approximately 10 weeks before the end date on their DS-2019. If you are completing an academic degree program and matriculating in the next level at Stony Brook University , you will also need an extension of stay.
An extension of stay is effective when a new Form DS-2019 with an extended end date is created in SEVIS and issued to the Exchange Visitor and his/her J-2 dependent family members. Please see separate instructions for extension of stay.
Finances – All changes in financial support for your program must be noted on Form DS-2019. On-campus employment must be noted on Form DS-2019 and/or approved in advance by the RO/ARO with a letter of authorization.
The ability to extend your J-1 status is, in part, contingent upon your ability to demonstrate that you have enough funding to complete your program, support your dependents and yourself. Many students will have a combination of tuition scholarships and stipends from the university, personal funds, or awards from other agencies. Because you will need to provide proof of this funding to be eligible for extensions of status, it is important to begin requests for extension of stay early.
Income Tax Obligation – All J-1 and J-2 Exchange Visitors are required to submit U.S. income tax returns for the prior calendar year to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by April 15th. Income tax forms are available at http://www.irs.gov/ When you depart the U.S. , after completing your J-1 program, you should file a “sailing permit” with IRS, and complete your obligation by filing a tax return for that calendar year before April 15th of the next year. You may also have an obligation to file a tax return with New York State .
Watch for announcements regarding “tax workshops” offered by the Visa and Immigration Services office, typically in February. While we do not advise on matters of taxation, we bring in representatives from the Internal Revenue Service to answer your questions. To prepare for this workshop, you should keep records regarding your earnings, interest and assets in the U.S. , and read IRS Publication 519, “Tax Guide for Aliens”, also available on-line.
Some Exchange Visitors may benefit from “tax treaties” that temporarily defer their federal income tax obligations. If you benefit from a tax treaty, be certain that you understand all its aspects. For example: some of these treaties will permit you to pay no taxes for your first two years in the U.S., but in the third year you will be required to pay for all three years! This is a devastating blow to those who disregard the scope of such treaties.
Insurance Requirement – All J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents MUST be covered by health insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains, and meets other minimum standards as set forth in 22CFR sect. 534.14. SUNY provides access to such coverage when necessary. Your program may be terminated for failure to maintain continuous coverage meeting these minimum standards for yourself and your J-2 dependent family members.
Once you register for a full course load, you will be automatically billed for an International Student and Scholar insurance. You should contact the Student Insurance Office to ensure that your J-2 dependents are also extended coverage. This office is adjacent to Student Health Services (Infirmary) in the H quad, and the telephone is 2-6054.
If you already have insurance that you believe meets or exceeds the federal requirements, you may contact the Student Insurance Office to request a waiver of the International Student and Scholar coverage. If the waiver is approved, you will not be billed for the health insurance, or the bill will be adjusted. It is important that you apply for waivers in advance, when possible, and no later than the deadline established by the International Insurance office each semester.
Maximum Length of Stay for J-1 :
As long as you remain in the academic program, registered full-time and making good progress toward your academic program objectives, you may continue to apply for extensions of your status.
You may be able to adjust your academic program and remain in J-1 status, if the study is in a related field. This will require that the Graduate Programs Directors and the RO/ARO work together closely, and that you have otherwise maintained your status. Such requests should be brought to our attention as early as possible, and not all requests can be accommodated in the J-1 program.
Notification - J-1 students are required to notify the Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officers (ARO) of their programs:
Reinstatement/Minor or Technical Infraction – Most violations of status will result in the termination of the J-1 visitor's program, and s/he will be required to depart the U.S. immediately. However, there are some violations of a technical nature that may be addressed by “reinstatement”, a request to the Department of State for consideration of the matter, and a restoration of valid J-1 status. These include:
Our ability to request reinstatement is strictly controlled by the time frame in which the violation is addressed. SEVIS may be used to report such a correction within the first 120 days of the infraction. Between 121 – 270 days, the RO/ARO must submit a request to the Department of State to review and approve, with a non-refundable fee of $198. After 270 days there can be no reinstatement, the Exchange Visitor is terminated and must depart the U.S. immediately. Remember that you're technically “out of status” the very day the violation occurs.
Responsible Officer (RO) and Alternate Responsible Officers (ARO) - Sponsors appoint Responsible Officers (RO) and Alternate Responsible Officers (ARO) to advise and assist Exchange Visitors, issue Certificates of Eligibility (Forms DS-2019), and conduct official communications with the Department of State. When questions arise about regulations, the initial and primary contact for J-1 students is the RO/ARO. Stony Brook's RO and AROs are all Visa and Immigration Services office staff.
SEVIS - The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System is a web-based tracking system administered by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to track ALL J-1, J-2, F-1 and F-2 non-immigrants. All Forms DS-2019 are created in SEVIS, and ICE receives the information and events reported instantaneously. Many “events” must be reported in SEVIS, and failure to do so in a timely manner can result in termination of a visitor's program instantaneously. This database is shared with consulates, ports of entry, FBI, CIA and other agencies.
Special Registration - Non-immigrant citizens and “nationals” from a growing list of countries are required to register with USCIS. The program specifically targets males over 14 years of age from countries including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia -- this list can and has changed periodically. USCIS may subject other non-immigrant nationals if they make unexplained trips to any of the aforementioned countries, or for a variety of reasons at the discretion of the inspecting officer. In addition to an initial “interview”, those subject to this provision may enter and depart the U.S. only through designated ports of entry, must report annually for re-inspection, and must report any changes of local or mailing address to USCIS within 10 days, using Form AR -11SR.
Sponsors - The Department of State designates sponsors to administer individual exchange visitor programs. The State University of New York at Stony Brook sponsors Exchange Visitor Program P-1-04840. Other sponsors of Stony Brook students include IIE, USIA, USAID, LASPAU, AMIDEAST and others. Students sponsored by other programs must obtain extensions of stay, employment authorization and travel signatures from the RO/AROs of those programs.
Termination – An Exchange Visitor's program participation can end in adverse termination for the following reasons:
Terminated Exchange Visitors have no extension benefits and cannot apply for reinstatement. This has the potential to affect future travel to the U.S. in other statuses.
Transfer - J-1 Exchange Visitors may transfer to another sponsor's program, if the new program is in keeping with the original program objective. Please see separate instructions for transfer procedures.
Travel – In order to return to the United States following travel outside of the United States , you must have a valid DS-2019 endorsed by your RO or ARO, a valid passport and valid visa stamp in your passport. To apply for travel signatures, graduate students must bring a "letter of good standing" from their program verifying that they are enrolled full-time and making satisfactory progress toward the degree; undergraduates must bring a copy of their current schedule showing full-time enrollment.
This documentation, with your Form DS-2019 should be submitted to Visa and Immigration Services 2-3 weeks before intended travel. Refer to separate instructions for more information on travel outside the U.S. , including special instructions for travel to Canada , Mexico and contiguous territories of the U.S.
Two-year Home-country Physical Presence Requirement 22 CFR 212(e) - Certain Exchange Visitor Program participants and their accompanying J-2 dependent family members are required to return to and reside in their home countries for at least two years after completing their U.S. stay before they can adjust status or return to the U.S. in other statuses that include certain work authorizations (L, H and permanent resident status). This requirement applies to those whose
[Immigration and Nationality Act, section 212(3)]
If you believe that you are subject to 212(e) in error, bring it to the attention of the RO/ARO as soon as possible. If it is truly an error, it may be possible to have the requirement removed.
Visa - A visa stamp is issued by a U.S. consular officer outside of the U.S. , based on qualifications for entry into the U.S. in a particular category. A visa permits a citizen of another country to arrive at a port-of-entry in the U.S. to be inspected by an Immigration Inspector, who then issues Form I-94 granting “non-immigrant status”. The duration of visa validity and the number of entries allowed is based on reciprocal agreements between the U.S. and other governments. A visa stamp need only be valid for entry into the U.S. However, Forms I-94 and DS-2019 must remain valid for the entire length of stay in the U.S.
The best place to apply for any visa is in your home country, where the U.S. consulates and embassies are obligated to entertain your application. You may be able to apply as a “third-country national” in a country you are visiting, but should meet with the RO/ARO for advisement before choosing this course of action.
If you are traveling to Canada , Mexico or contiguous U.S. territories, you may, under specific circumstances, be allowed to re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa stamp. Be sure that you fully understand instructions before you travel under such circumstances.
Waiver of 212(e) - If you are considered subject to 212(e), you may be eligible for a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement. Please make an appointment with the RO/ARO BEFORE beginning a waiver application.
If you have further questions regarding Stony Brook's Exchange Visitor Program, you may visit our website: www.sunysb.edu/visa for regularly updated information. You may also call (631) 632-INTL or contact:
Elizabeth A. Barnum, Responsible Officer
Elsy Arieta-Padro, Alternate Responsible Officer
Nancy A. Lannak, Alternate Responsible Officer