A J-1 visa is intended for foreign nationals who seek to enter 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. There are several different categories of exchange visitor, and maximum duration of stay varies by category.
A research scholar or professor appointment must 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.
Exchange Visitors (EVs) are only permitted to engage in the activities identified on the Form DS-2019. CWRU sponsors exchange visitor programs for students, interns, 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 Section 212(e), also known as the two-year home 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 Section 212(e), visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/study/exchange/waiver-of-the-exchange-visitor.html for more information. Individuals in J-1 status seeking a waiver of Section212(e) must contact our office in advance of filing a waiver request, as J-1 status cannot be extended once a waiver is obtained.
All Exchange Visitors and their dependents (J-2) are required under regulations to purchase and maintain health care insurance. Please visit https://j1visa.state.gov/basics/ for additional information and current coverage requirements.
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 may purchase insurance at any company that covers international visitors/students.
The VISA Office issues Forms DS-2019 for J-1 visitors and their J-2 dependents. Please allow a reasonable period of time before the start date of the employment so that we may process your request in a timely manner. J-1s 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 the VISA Office for assistance in the event that a J-1 visitor will be transferring from another institution to Case Western Reserve University.
J-1s 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.
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.
EVs cannot generally change the activity that is described on the Form DS-2019. As noted above, 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. J-1 and J-2 visitors subject to this requirement may not change their nonimmigrant status while in the U.S., enter the U.S. in certain other nonimmigrant classifications, or apply for permanent residence until the requirements are either 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.)
- Upon receipt of the appointment letter, the department must create a sponsorship request in the Scholar Portal at https://visas.case.edu/ and provide all requested information and documentation.
- The VISA Office needs time to receive the documents, enter all information into the Government’s SEVIS program and generate the DS-2019; typically 2 to 4 weeks. We will reach out to the EV and/or the Department if additional information is needed.
- The EV and Department Contact will be notified when the DS 2019 is ready.
- The Department should ensure the appropriate FedEx Speed type is provided in the Scholar Portal so that the VISA Office can send the DS 2019 directly to the Exchange Visitor when it is ready, if needed.
- It is the EV’s responsibility to obtain a J-1 visa stamp if they are outside the US. If there are delays for any reason, it is the EV’s responsibility to contact the department and the VISA Office promptly and inform them about the delay.
- When the EV arrives in the U.S., 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 after when the paperwork is started in the department.
Ready to Submit Your Request?
Please have an HRA or Department Administrator complete and submit your request online through the Scholar Portal at https://visas.case.edu/.
J-1 Status Extensions
It is the responsibility of the Department to request an extension to a J-1 program. The VISA Office asks that all paperwork be submitted no later than two weeks before the end of the appointment. To request an extension, please complete an extension request in the Scholar Portal. 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.
J-1 Orientation Presentation
The VISA Office offers an orientation for new J-1 scholars. Please contact our office to arrange a J-1 orientation.
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, postdoctoral scholar, and postdoctoral fellow. These are internal designations used to distinguish pay benefits.
Arriving on Campus
The exchange visitor (EV) must come to the VISA Office to check in. Please call to make an appointment at 216.368.6964, or drop in to our office in Crawford Hall.
The Exchange Visitor will need their passport, visa, current local address, proof of Health Insurance, and a printed copy of their Form I-94. If the Exchange Visitor is unable to print their Form I-94, we can assist when they check in.
If health insurance will be provided by CWRU, 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 22 CFR 62.14.
It is important to note that CWRU is not permitted to allow Visiting Scholars to join the Postdoctoral Benefits Program, so it is the EV's responsibility to secure coverage that suits their healthcare needs in advance of accessing medical services.
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].
Completing the required documents takes about 10-15 minutes. These documents should be completed within 10 days of arrival.
If the EV will be on the CWRU payroll, they must visit the HR Service Center in Crawford Hall 320 to complete a Form I-9 on or before the first date of employment.
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 who 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 prevents 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 residence 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.