Immigration Information for J1 Scholars
Entry to the U.S.
A J-1 Scholar will be admitted to the United States for duration of status (D/S) as indicated on the white I-94 card. This means that the J-1 and J-2 visa holders are authorized to stay in the United States for the entire length of time listed on the DS-2019. During this time, you must participate in the academic activities listed on your DS-2019 and in your invitation letter from St. Thomas. While in the United States, you must maintain a valid foreign passport.
Employment in the U.S.
Only employment as noted on the J-1 Scholar’s DS-2019 is allowed in the U.S. Questions about incidental employment related to the purpose of your visit should be made to ISS.
An ISS staff member must authorize honorariums for presentations at outside institutions in advance of your presentation or conference at the outside institution or organization. Please contact International Student Services for additional information about this.
212(e) Two Year Home Country Rule
Some J-1 and J-2 visa holders might be subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement (also known as the 212(e) rule). J-1 visa holders with funding from their home government or the U.S. government will be subject to the 212(e) rule. Individuals with expertise listed on the skills list might be subject to the 212(e) rule. See the skills list online here.
The 212(e) rule prevents an individual from changing their visa status within the U.S. and requires this individual to live in their home country for 2 years before they are eligible for this type of immigration benefit. Individuals subject to the 212(e) rule can apply for a waiver of this requirement. The waiver process is complicated and can be time consuming.
See the 212(e) waiver information online here.
Health Insurance Requirement
U.S. Immigration law requires all J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents to have health/medical insurance at all times while participating in the J-1 exchange program; this includes the 30 days before and after the J-1 program. Health Insurance, Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Insurance are required of all J-1 and J-2 exchange visitors. At a minimum, the insurance coverage must include:
- Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per person, per accident or illness
- Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500
- Expenses associated with the medical evacuation in the amount of $10,000
- A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
- Exchange visitors must maintain the required insurance during the entire period of their stay in the U.S.
New J-1 Scholars are requested to provide proof of current insurance as described above, or to purchase insurance when they meet with International Student Services (ISS) upon arrival. St. Thomas offers an insurance policy that meets the requirements listed above.
It is recommended that J-1 Scholars inquire if their current insurance at home will cover them during their J-program participation. J-1 Scholars with insurance from their home country that meets or exceeds the minimum requirements as outlined above, should bring proof of this insurance policy and time of coverage when they meet with the ISS staff upon arrival.
How to Maintain your Legal Status in the United States
To maintain your immigration status, J-1 Scholars must conduct the academic activities (teaching, research, etc.) that are listed on their DS-2019. Only employment as noted on the J-1 Scholar’s DS-2019 is allowed in the U.S. Questions about incidental employment related to the purpose of a J-1 Scholar’s visit should be made to ISS. J-1 Scholars may engage in incidental study while maintaining valid J-1 immigration status.
An ISS staff member must authorize honorariums for presentations at outside institutions in advance of the presentation or conference at the outside institution or organization. Please contact International Student Services for additional information about this.
The J-1 visa holder must provide financial verification to ISS in order to have J-2 dependents (spouse and/or children) added to their DS-2019. This financial verification must be in the original, be less than 6 months old and demonstrate funding available for $6000 USD or more for a J-2 spouse and $3000 USD or more for each J-2 child.
J-2 Dependents (spouse and/or children) may study full or part-time in the U.S. J-2 dependents may apply for employment authorization while in the U.S. ISS staff will assist with the application for employment authorization. J-2 visa holders are only eligible to apply for a Social Security Number if they apply for and receive employment authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Click here to print a Dependent Request Form.
Penalty for non-compliance with J-1 regulations
Extension of Stay
J-1 Scholars who can not complete the purpose of their J-1 program before the program end date listed on their DS-2019, must apply for an extension of stay. Please complete this form to request extension. J-1 Research Scholars and J-1 Professors have a 5 year maximum duration of participation and are subject to a 24 month bar from participating in another J-1 program when their stay has ended.
Short-term J-1 Scholars have a 6 month maximum duration of participation that can not be extended and they are not subject to the 24 month bar.
A J-1 visa Scholar is permitted to transfer to a different institution provided the transfer procedure is followed. To transfer to a different institution, J-1 Scholars should first be accepted to the new institution and they must complete the ISS transfer out form. The transfer will be effective on the “SEVIS release date” that you select to have your J-1 SEVIS record transferred from St. Thomas to the new institution.
NOTE: When choosing your release date, make sure you take into account your on-campus position. On your release date, you will no longer be able to work or conduct research on the UST campus.
J-1 visa holders must notify ISS in advance of their departure when they intend to leave the U.S. The University must report both arrival and departure information to the U.S. government via the SEVIS system. J-1 visa holders and their J-2 dependents must depart the U.S. no later than 30 days following the program end date listed on the DS-2019.
J-1 and J-2 visa holders must surrender their Form I-94 Departure record when they depart the U.S. Please see the back side of Form I-94 for detailed instructions. J-visa holders who visit Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands other than Cuba for less than 30 days do note have to turn in their I-94.