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). The purpose of the program is "to promote international educational and cultural exchange in order to develop mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries."

The J-1 Visa

  • Prospective exchange visitors are issued Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility) by the Program Sponsor.
  • The exchange visitor needs the Form DS-2019 to apply for the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas.
  • The Visa Officer has sole authority to issue a visa based on the information provided by the prospective exchange visitor.

Program Objectives and Activities

Exchange Visitors enter the U.S. in J-1 visa classification to participate in an educational or cultural program in a specific program category such as a student, professor, researcher, or short-term scholar. Exchange visitors are only permitted to engage in the fields of activity listed on their Form DS-2019 and must comply with all federal program regulations.

Extension of Stay

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.


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

Health Insurance

Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

Special Regulations for Exchange Visitors in Professor or Research Scholar Categories

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.