J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

OISS helps to promote international education and cultural exchange through the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of State (DOS).

  • Prospective exchange visitors are issued Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility) by OISS on behalf of UNH, the Program Sponsor.
  • Exchange visitors use the Form DS-2019 to apply for the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas.
  • Exchange visitors must comply with all federal program regulations.

The DOS has designated the University of New Hampshire to serve as Program Sponsor, thereby enabling us to issue Form DS-2019 to prospective exchange visitors.  UNH is designated to sponsor exchange visitors in the categories of professor, research scholar and short-term scholar.  Exchange visitors are only permitted to engage in the field of activity listed on their Form DS-2019.

Professor: an individual primarily engaged in teaching, lecturing, observing or consulting at post-secondary accredited educational institutions, museums, libraries or similar types of institutions.  A professor may also conduct research.  The maximum length of stay is 5 years.  By federal regulations, this visa category may NOT be used for tenure-track positions.

Research scholar: an individual primarily conducting research, observing or consulting in connection with a research project at research institutions, corporate research facilities, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions or similar types of institutions.  The maximum length of stay is 5 years.  This visa category may NOT be used for permanent research positions.

Short-term scholar: defined as a professor, research scholar, specialist or a person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the U.S. on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training or demonstrating special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, post-secondary education institutions or similar types of institutions.  There is no minimum stay for this category.  However, six months is the maximum allowable stay, and no extension beyond six months is permitted.

A program extension may be granted per recommendation by the program sponsor as permitted under federal regulations.

Transferring: Exchange visitors are permitted to transfer from one program sponsor to another.  This process must be closely coordinated between the two program sponsors.

Exchange visitors may have their program terminated for violating federal regulations which govern the program.

Reasons for termination may include:

  • willful failure to maintain required medical insurance coverage;
  • engaging in unauthorized employment;
  • failing to pursue the activities listed on Form DS-2019, or;
  • engaging in activities not authorized by the program category.

Federal regulations prohibit a program sponsor from issuing a DS-2019 in the professor or research scholar category to an individual who has been physically present in the U.S. in J-1 visa status for six months or more of the twelve month period immediately preceding the start date of the new program.  The only exception to this rule is if the exchange visitor is being transferred from one program sponsor to another.

Federal regulations require that the program sponsor provide an orientation to exchange visitors.  OISS provides this service and all exchange visitors are required to check in with OISS during their first week.