J-1 exchange visitors are international scholars who visit SHSU to fulfill one of the following roles: Visiting professor, research scholar, or short-term scholar. The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State for the express purpose of promoting international educational exchange of expertise and stimulating collaborative teaching and research efforts.
Please click on the topics below to learn more about the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.
- Exchange Visitor Categories
There are three principle categories within the Exchange Visitor Program in which SHSU sponsors international faculty. These categories include:
A visiting professor may primarily conduct teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting at post-secondary accredited educational institutions; they may also conduct research, unless disallowed by the sponsor. J-1 professors are not allowed to occupy tenure track positions based on the J-1 regulations.
A research scholar may primarily conduct research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project at post-secondary accredited educational institutions; or teach unless not approved by the sponsoring agency.
A short-term scholar is a professor, research scholar, or person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the United States on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills at post-secondary accredited educational institutions from one day to a maximum of six months.
Note: No extensions beyond the six months are permitted for Short Term Scholars.
- Information for Hosting Departments
Departments that would like to host a J-1 exchange visitor can reach out to the Office of International Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org or (936) 294-4737 for more information or to schedule an appointment to discuss the J-1 exchange visitor hosting process.
Once your department is ready to host a J-1 exchange visitor, you can consult the J-1 Exchange Visitor Checklist. Below are some additional useful documents:
- Checking In
- Your passport with visa
- Your DS-2019
- Evidence of medical insurance
- Address information for your place of residence in Huntsville
All J-1 Exchange Visitors MUST check in at the Office of International Programs (located in the Farrington Building, Room 116) shortly after arriving at SHSU.
When you check in, please bring the following documents with you:
Although there is no dedicated orientation for J-1 Exchange Visitors, you are welcome to join New International Student Orientation. You can find more information about New International Student Orientation, including how to register, HERE
- Health Insurance
- Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
- Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,00
- Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
- A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
- Underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of “A-“or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-I”' or above, a Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of “A-“or above, a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above, or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify; OR
- Backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor’s home country; OR
- Part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor; OR
- Offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by the Health Care Financing Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Exchange visitors (J-1) and their dependents (J-2) are required to have health insurance for the duration of their program. This health insurance must meet the minimum requirements below [Code of Federal Regulations, Title 22, Volume 1, 22 CFR 62. 14, Page 287-288]:
A J-2 accompanying spouse or dependent of a J-1 exchange visitor is required to be covered by insurance in the same amounts.
Note: An exchange visitor who willfully fails to maintain the required insurance coverage while participating in their program, or who makes a material misrepresentation to SHSU concerning such coverage, will be deemed in violation of these regulations and may be subject to termination.
- Maintaining Status
J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents are responsible for learning, understanding, and complying with U.S. federal laws and regulations governing the J visa. Failure to do so may result in termination of status.
Below is a list of regulations that you must comply with as a J-1 exchange visitor:
Report any address changes to the Office of International Programs.
You are required to report your address change within 10 days of moving. The Office of International Programs must have your residential address (not a PO Box, even if you use one for receiving mail).
Report any program changes to the Office of International Programs.
Visitors must notify the Office of International Programs when there is a change in your academic program or program dates.
Report any J-1 dependents to the Office of International Programs.
Please report arrivals of any J-2 dependents to the Office of International Programs. As a reminder, J-1 exchange visitors should not depart the U.S. for more than one month while their J-2 dependents remain in the U.S.
Maintain required health insurance.
J-1 exchange visitors are required to maintain health insurance. See more information about health insurance requirements above.
Maintain a valid passport during your stay in the U.S.
Your passport must be valid at all times. If your passport is within six months of expiry, please contact your local consulate to renew it.
Abide by employment regulations.
J-1 exchange visitors may conduct research or teach only at Sam Houston State University unless specifically authorized ahead of time by the Office of International Programs to give a lecture or consult at another institution. Exchange visitors must contact the Office of International Programs if invited to speak or consult at another institution.
Apply for an extension prior to the expiration date on your DS-2019.
Want to stay at SHSU longer? You must apply for an extension before the expiration date on your DS-2019.
Receive transfer authorization prior to leaving SHSU.
Want to transfer to another institution? You must receive authorization from the Office of International Programs before transferring to another institution.
Report departure date and reason to the Office of International Programs.
Need to leave SHSU or the U.S. earlier than intended? Please inform the Office of International Programs so your program can be ended early.
Obtain travel signature on your DS-2019 prior to traveling outside the U.S.
Traveling outside the U.S.? You need a DS-2019 travel signature for that.
Depart the U.S. within 30-day grace period.
J-1 exchange visitors must depart the U.S. within 30 days of the DS-2019 expiration date or program end date (whichever is earlier), unless you have applied for a change of status with USCIS.
- J-2 Dependent Information
Spouses and children (unmarried, under 21 years old) of an exchange visitor are eligible to apply for J-2 dependent visas. Please see the questions below for information regarding J-2 status policies:
Can J-2 dependents take classes?
Yes, J-2 dependents age 18 and under may attend K-12 schooling. J-2 dependents age 18 and older may pursue part-time or full-time study at a university or community college. There are currently no restrictions on J-2 dependent study.
Can J-2 dependents work in the U.S.?
Yes, J-2 dependents can request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by filing Form I-765 with USCIS. J-2 dependents with an EAD may work part-time or full-time, but this employment may not be used to support the J-1 exchange visitor.
Can J-2 dependents apply for a social security number (SSN)?
Yes, J-2 dependents can apply for a social security number in tandem with their Form I-765. J-2 dependents who are not applying for employment authorization cannot apply for a social security number.
Can J-2 dependents volunteer in the U.S.?
Yes, J-2 dependents can volunteer in the U.S. without any formal authorization, so long as their volunteer activities do not displace a paid position.
Can J-2 dependents travel without J-1 exchange visitors?
Yes, as long as the J-1 exchange visitor is maintaining lawful status, their J-2 dependents may travel within the U.S., and outside the U.S., by themselves with proper documentation. In addition to carrying their own documentation, J-2 dependents are encourage to carry a copy of the J-1 exchange visitor’s documentation when they travel.
Can J-2 dependents change status (for example, to an F-1 student visa) while in the U.S.?
Yes, it is possible for J-2 dependents to change to another status while in the U.S., provided they are not subject to the 212(e) Two-Year Home Residency Requirement (see Two-Year Residency Requirement below)
- Extension of Stay
J-1 exchange visitors who have successfully maintained their status are eligible to apply for an extension of stay, within the limits of their exchange visitor category. Visiting professors and research scholars are limited to 5 years. Short-term scholars are limited to 6 months.
Be sure to allow sufficient time for processing your request. All extensions of stay must be approved prior to the end date on your current DS-2019.
Steps to apply for an extension of stay:
- Meet with the contact person in your host department. He/she will complete a J-1 Request Form and submit it to the Office of International Programs.
- Provide evidence of funding for the extension period to your department contact person.
- Provide evidence of insurance coverage for you and any J-2 dependents for the extension period to the OIP.
- If you are eligible for an extension, the OIP will issue you a new DS-2019 with an amended end date.
- Transfer-in/Transfer-out Process
J-1 exchange visitors may transfer from one program sponsor to another if the purpose of the transfer is to complete the objective for which he or she was admitted to the exchange visitor status. The J-1 exchange visitor must remain in the same participant category (visiting professor, research scholar, or short-term scholar).
Steps to transfer IN to Sam Houston State University from another institution:
- Make an appointment with your Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Office (ARO) at your current institution to discuss your situation and a possible transfer date to SHSU.
- Obtain approval from current host department sponsor.
- Obtain approval from new host department sponsor.
- Submit SHSU Transfer-In form to the Office of International Programs (your current institution may also require you to submit a “transfer-out” form).
- Obtain new SHSU DS-2019 and complete check-in.
Steps to transfer OUT from Sam Houston State University to another institution:
- Make an appointment with your Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Office (ARO) in the Office of International Programs to discuss your situation and a possible transfer date.
- Obtain approval from current host department sponsor.
- Obtain approval from new host department sponsor.
- Submit SHSU Transfer-Out form to the Office of International Programs (your new institution may also require you to submit a “transfer-in” form).
- Obtain DS-2019 from new institution and complete check-in with that institution.
- Changing Status
- Have been lawfully admitted to the U.S.
- Have not accrued any unlawful presence
- Be currently maintaining an active J-1/J-2 status
- File the change of status application before the end date on the DS-2019
J-1 exchange visitors who are not subject to the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement (see Two-Year Residency Requirement below) are eligible to apply for a change of status to any other visa type for which they qualify.
In order to change status, the applicant must meet the following requirements:
J-1 exchange visitors or J-2 dependents that want to change status should make an appointment with the Office of International Programs.
- Travel Inside/Outside the U.S.
- Valid passport
- Valid visa
- Valid DS-2019 with recent travel signature (no more than six months old) from a Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) in the Office of International Programs. To make an appointment to get a travel signature, please go HERE.
Travel inside the U.S.
J-1 exchange visitors and J-2 dependents are welcome (and encouraged!) to travel inside the U.S. Please remember to take your documentation (passport, visa, DS-2019) with you when you travel. J-2 dependents are also advised to take a copy of the J-1 exchange visitor’s documentation.
Travel outside the U.S.
J-1 exchange visitors and J-2 dependents may travel outside of the U.S. with the following documents:
If your visa is expired and you intend to travel outside the U.S., you will need to revalidate your visa before you return. Please take this into consideration before you travel as scheduling an in-person visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate can take some time.
Note: Travel outside of the U.S. for an extended period of time is allowed, so long as it is not excessive (for example, an entire semester), and the purpose of the travel is directly related to your exchange program. It is not advised to leave your J-2 dependents in the U.S. if you intend to travel outside the U.S. for an extended period.
- 12-/24-Month Bar
Individuals who have been in the U.S. for more than 6 months in the previous year (12 months) in any J visa status are ineligible to enter the U.S. as a J-1 visiting professor or research scholar for a 12-month period. Time spent in the J-1 short-term scholar category does not county toward the 12-month bar. The 12-month bar applies to both the J-1 exchange visitor and any J-2 dependents. It does not prevent individuals from returning to the U.S. in any other visa status.
Any J-1 exchange visitor in the visiting professor or research scholar category is subject to a 24-month bar on “repeat participation” in those categories. This bar, which also applies to J-2 dependents, begins when the J-1 exchange visitor ends their program (ie. when the program becomes inactive in SEVIS). Scholars subject to the bar may not return to the U.S. as a J-1 exchange visitor in the visiting professor or research scholar category for the 24-month period. The 24-month bar is in effect regardless of the length of time in the program, but does not prevent individuals from returning to the U.S. in any other visa status.
24-Month Bar v. the Two-Year Residency Requirement [212(e)]
The 24-Month Bar should not be confused with the Two-Year Residency Requirement [212(e)]. The Two-Year Residency Requirement may apply for exchange visitors in any J visa category. The 24-Month Bar only applies to exchange visitor in the visiting professor or research scholar categories.
- Two-Year Residency Requirement
- Exchange program was financed in part by the U.S. government or government of the visitor’s home country (such as a Fulbright program)
- Skill appears in the Exchange Visitor Skills List as identified by the their home country government
- Purpose in coming to the U.S. was to receive graduation medical education or training
The Two-Year Residency Requirement refers to the requirement that an exchange visitor who is within the purview of section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act must reside and be physically present in the country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for an aggregate of at least two years following departure from the U.S. before the exchange visitor is eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or change to another nonimmigrant visa status within the U.S.
If you are subject to the Two-Year Residency Requirement 212(e), you will find this notated on the first page of your DS-2019.
Generally speaking, the Two-Year Residency Requirement applies to exchange visitors whose:
Some exchange visitors may qualify for a waiver of the Two-Year Residency Requirement. More information about this waiver can be found HERE
Questions about the Two-Year Residency Requirement and your obligations? Schedule an appointment with the Office of International Programs HERE.