A J-1 visa is intended for foreign nationals who enters the United States with the primary purpose of conducting research, observing or consulting in connection with research projects at research institutions, corporate research facilities, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited academic institutions or similar types of institutions. A research scholar may also teach or lecture unless disallowed by the sponsor.
The research scholar or professor’s appointment to a position shall be temporary, even if the position itself is permanent. Incidental lectures or short-term consultations are permitted with the approval of the responsible officer so long as they are directly related to the objectives of the participant's program, and do not delay the exchange program’s completion date.
The J-1 program is designed to allow the exchange visitor an enriching cross-cultural opportunity to gain mutual understanding of diverse backgrounds and customs. They will learn new skills and techniques that can be taken back to their home country to enhance the country’s growth and development.
Please Note: The maximum duration of program participation for professors and research scholars is five years.
Exchange Visitors (EVs) are only permitted to engage in activities identified on the DS-2019 visa document. Case sponsors an exchange visitor program for students, researchers, visiting faculty, short-term scholars or specialists. The source and the amount of financial support for the EV are listed on the Form DS-2019. Please note that the Code of Federal Regulations (22 CFR, Part 62) specifies that J-1s may not be candidates for tenure-track appointments.
Many J-1 status holders are subject to INA 212(e), also known as the two-year foreign residence requirement. This means the visitor must return to and be physically present in their home country for the two years immediately following the completion of their J-1 program in the United States.
Prospective J-1 visitors and sponsors should keep this in mind when requesting J-1 status. A waiver of this requirement is available in certain circumstances. For current J-1s seeking a waiver of 212(e), visit the State Department site. Individuals in J-1 seeking a waiver of INA 212(e), must contact our office in advance of filing a waiver request, as J-1 status cannot be extended once a waiver is obtained.
Since May 15, 2015, all Exchange Visitors and their visa dependents (J-2) are required under regulations to purchase and maintain health care insurance of at least the following amounts:
- $100,000 medical benefits per accident or illness;
- $50,000 medical evacuation;
- $25,000 repatriation of remains; and
- $500 maximum deductible for each occurrence.
Exchange Visitors who receive university fringe benefits are automatically covered. Research Scholars and those Exchange Visitors who are self-funded or funded by external sources can purchase insurance at any company that covers international visitors/students (see Garnett-Powers & Associates).
The Office of IHRS issues DS-2019(s) for all appointees, other than students. Please allow a reasonable period of time before the start date of the EV(s) employment so that IHRS may process your request in a timely manner. EVs who come as visiting faculty, researchers, and short-term scholars may receive funding from a variety of sources, which are identified on the DS-2019.
Please note that any amount identified as a Sponsor obligation must be paid to the appointee, and no reduction in either the amount or the dates of appointment is permitted. Transfer from one Sponsor to another must follow a procedure specified by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). Please contact IHRS for assistance in the event that a J-1 EV will be transferring from another institution to Case Western Reserve University.
EVs who are sponsored by colleges and universities to participate in teaching, research or specialist activities have a minimum stay of 21 days and a general maximum stay of 60 months in the United States. Note, the minimum stay requirement does not apply to J-1 Short-Term Scholars. DOS may permit an Exchange Visitor's stay to be extended for additional periods of time. This is referred to as an Extraordinary Extension and may be requested for the period of up to one year.
Universities may sponsor graduates of foreign medical schools to participate in teaching and/or research activities as long as patient care is incidental to the primary goals of the appointment. Please note that federal law prohibits these graduates of foreign medical schools from principally practicing medicine.
Exchange Visitors cannot generally change the activity that is described on the Form DS-2019. In addition, some, but not all Exchange Visitors, including J-1 students and J-2 dependents, are subject to the two-year home country physical residence requirement, (INA 212(e)). This means that they may not change their nonimmigrant status while in the U.S., enter the U.S. in certain other nonimmigrant classifications, or becoming an immigrant/permanent resident until INA 212(e) is satisfied or waived.
How to Complete an Appointment
When a Principal Investigator (PI) wants to bring an Exchange Visitor (EV) to work in their lab:
- Departmental Assistant (DA) or Human Resources Assistant (HRA) starts the process.
- The necessary forms need to be completed and sent to the Dean’s office.
- Forms needed:
- Information from an Exchange Visitor - Exchange Visitor Info
- J-1 recommendation form - Recommendation for J-1 Appointment
- Export Control Supplemental Questionnaire
- Proof of English Proficiency
- If J-1 is a foreign medical graduate, you must provide either a letter confirming no incidental patient contact or a letter confirming incidental patient contact signed by the Dean of the School of Medicine.
- HRA/Departmental Administrator needs to fill and submit the online J-1 Visa Request Form
- Forms needed:
- The Dean’s office will prepare a letter of appointment. The Dean’s office prepares all J-1 appointment letters unless it is for a Short-term scholar. The Short-term scholar appointment letter is prepared by the Chair’s office and signed by the Chairperson. (Check with your Dean’s office. Some of the schools have all appointments go through the Dean’s office.)
- The Dean’s or Chair’s office sends all documents to the Office of Immigration and Human Resource Services (IHRS) for the J-1 paperwork to be processed.
- IHRS needs time to receive the documents, enter all information into the Government’s SEVIS program and generate the DS-2019; typically 5 - 8 business days.
- The Exchange Visitor and Department Contact will be notified the DS 2019 is ready.
- The Department should ensure the appropriate Fed Ex Speed type is listed on the Rec Form so that IHRS can send the DS 2019 directly to the Exchange Visitor when it is ready.
- It is the EV’s responsibility to obtain their Visa. If there are delays for any reason, it is the EV’s responsibility to contact the department and inform them about the delay. The department needs to inform IHRS about the delay too.
- When the EV arrives, they have 10 days to check in with our office to have their program validated.
The total time for this process is about ninety business days. This means the start date requested should be at least ninety days out from when the paperwork is started in the department. These ninety days are needed to move the paperwork through the department and the Dean’s and IHRS’s offices, mail the paperwork and obtain a visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Ready to Submit Your Request?
Please have an HRA or Department Administrator complete and submit your request online. The J-1 Visa Request Form can be found here.
J-1 Status Extensions
It is the responsibility of the department to request an extension to a J-1 program. IHRS asks that all paperwork is in their office two weeks before the end of the appointment. To request an extension, please send a new J-1 recommendation form and a new Dean’s appointment letter to IHRS. Each EV category is subject to maximum timeframes that typically cannot be extended. In the case of someone entering in the Research Scholar category, the maximum duration is 5 years. In most cases, this cannot be extended further.
J-1 Orientation Presentation
IHRS offers an orientation for new J-1 scholars. Contact our office to arrange a J-1 orientation. If a J-1 scholar is unable to make it to an orientation, they can review the J-1 Orientation online.
J-1 Scholar and Short-Term J-1 Scholar
The primary difference between J-1 and Short-Term J-1 is the maximum stay period. A comparison between the two can be found in the following table.
Short-Term J-1 Scholar
Maximum stay of 5 years
Maximum stay of 6 months
Can extend program - 1-year validation at a time
No extensions allowed
Can face a 2 years home rule
Can come back on another Short-term appointment without the 2-year rule. Must return home before starting another program.
Appointment letter comes from the Dean
Appointment letter comes from the department Chair
J-1 recommendation form
Short-term recommendation form
Exchange Visitor Titles
The Government system only recognizes a few title designations: research scholar, short-term research scholar and visiting professor. Most of the appointments will be one of the first two.
Within the Case Western Reserve University system, there are a few different titles that are used: research assistant, research associate, research scholar and post-doctoral fellow. These are internal designations used to distinguish pay benefits.
Arriving on Campus
The exchange visitor (EV) should make it a top priority to come to the Office of Immigration and Human Resource Services to check in. Please call to set up an appointment; 216.368.6964.
The Exchange Visitor will need their passport, visa, current local address, proof of Health Insurance and a printed copy of their I-94 for our office. To obtain the I-94, the Exchange Visitor will need to visit the I-94 Official Website. If the Exchange Visitor is unable to print their I-94, it may be obtained at check in.
If the Health Insurance will be provided by Case Western Reserve University, please bring written confirmation that it will be covered. All others must present proof of paid insurance.
It is the responsibility of the Exchange Visitor to carry appropriate health coverage for their stay per regulation [22 CFR 62.14].
It is important to note that Case Western Reserve University is not permitted to allow Visiting Scholars to join the Postdoctoral
Benefits Program, so it is your responsibility to secure coverage that suits your healthcare needs in advance of accessing
Participants and any J-2 dependents (spouses and minor unmarried children under the age 21) accompanying them are required to carry medical insurance at the minimum benefit levels stated in the program regulations. Program sponsors are required to ensure that all participants have the appropriate medical insurance. Sponsors will verify that the participant's medical insurance meets the regulatory requirements, and will facilitate the purchase of coverage for participants who do not have their own insurance, or whose coverage does not meet the requirements.
Participants interested in obtaining appropriate medical insurance should contact the responsible officer of their sponsor organization. Willful failure on the part of the participant and/or any J-2 dependents to maintain active insurance coverage is grounds for termination from the program. Please refer to the regulations for details [22 CFR 62.14].
Filling out the required documents takes about 10-15 minutes. These documents should be completed within 10 days of arrival. Both J1 scholars and Short-term J1 scholars need to check in, regardless of the length of their stay.
If the EV will be on payroll at Case Western Reserve, they will need a social security number. The U.S. Social Security office asks EVs to be in the country 10 days before applying for a social security number. Once the EV has received their social security number, they should report it to the Office of Immigration and Human Resource Services.
Bars on Repeat J-1 Participation
J-1 program participants should be aware that time spent in the U.S. as a J-1 or J-2 may impact eligibility for future J-1 status and program participation. The periods of ineligibility only apply to participation in the “Research Scholar” category and the “Professor” category and they are commonly referred to as the “24-Month Bar” and the “12-Month Bar”.
EVs that have previously held J-1 status in the “Research Scholar” or “Professor” categories are barred from participating in the same category for a period of 24 months if the program ended on or after 11/17/2006. Time spent in other J-1 categories does not trigger the 24-Month Bar.
The 12-Month Bar bars EVs from beginning a new “Research Scholar” or “Professor” J-1 program if the EV has been in the U.S. in any J status (including dependent status), for more than six months in all or part of the twelve-month period immediately preceding the start date of the new program.
Please note these bars are separate and distinct from the two-year home residency requirement. For a detailed chart on when a 24-month or 12-month bar may apply, please see the U.S. Department of State J-1 website.