J-1 Overview & Categories

OVERVIEW OF J-1 VISA

The J-1 category is for persons who are coming to the U.S. for a short-term program in a variety of different areas: study, long-term research, short-term research, teaching, and training. Syracuse University authorizes documents only for professors, research scholars, specialists, student interns, and students. The SEVIS DS-2019 is the document issued by the Slutzker Center for International Services to any person approved by Syracuse University for a J-1 program.

It is important to note that the J-program is a temporary program and that J-Visa holders should have no immigrant intent. This visa category should not be used by departments or internationals for permanent employment positions or to seek Permanent Residency in the United States.

The J Exchange Visitor classification authorized by I.N.A. § 101(a)(15)(J) was developed to implement the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (Fulbright-Hayes Act) of 1961 [Public Law 87-256, as amended, 22 U.S.C. § 2451, et seq.]. The overall purpose of that Act and the objective of the Exchange Visitor classification is “to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges.” The Department of State issues J-Visas and establishes and administers the federal regulations and policies governing the J Exchange Visitor Program.

J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR CATEGORIES

J-1 Research Scholar/Professor

  • Limited to a maximum stay of 5 years to engage in research and/or teaching
  • Independently-funded scholars are limited to 1 year of sponsorship with eligibility for annual extensions
  • J-1 Research Scholars/Professors may NOThold or be candidates for tenure
  • Must have a specific objective sponsored by SU, such as to conduct research, teach, or consult
  • 12/24-month bars may prevent J-1 Research Scholar/Professor sponsorship of those who have previously held J visa

J-1 Short-Term Scholar

  • Limited strictly to 6 months; Short-Term Scholars may not extend stay beyond 6 months
  • 12/24-month bars do not apply to J-1 Short-Term Scholars who wish to return in J-1 Professor/Research Scholar category

J-1 Specialist

  • Limited to a maximum stay of 12 months
  • J-1 Specialist is often used for non-teaching staff positions, such as for a coach, manager, or trainer.
  • J-1 Specialists may not fill a permanent or long-term position of employment in the U.S.
  • 12-month bar applies to J-1 Specialists who wish to return in J-1 Professor/Research Scholar category
 J-1 Student Intern
  • Limited to a maximum stay of 12 months
  • J-1 Student Intern category is meant to host international students who are currently enrolled and pursuing a degree at a postsecondary academic institution outside the United States.
  • J-1 Student Intern may not fill a permanent or long-term position of employment in the U.S.
  • 12-month bar applies to J-1 Student Interns who wish to return in J-1 Professor/Research Scholar category
J-1 Student
  • SU is designated to host international students at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels in both matriculated/degree programs and non-matriculated/non-degree programs
  • Sponsoring an SU student for J-1 status is typically reserved for students who receive government or external funding
  • The decision to sponsor an international student for J-1 student status is typically made at the time of admission to Syracuse University
  • 12-month bar applies to J-1 Students who wish to return in J-1 Professor/Research Scholar category


ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL J-1 SCHOLARS, PROFESSORS, SPECIALISTS, AND STUDENT INTERNS

There are a few basic requirements for all J-1 Exchange Visitors:

  1. Intent to pursue appropriate activity (such as research, teaching, or training)
  2. Intent to return to home country (as determined by consular officer)
  3. Sufficient funding for program – minimum $1200/month for independently-funded scholars, professors, specialists, and student interns
  4. Appropriate background for program activity (i.e. the J-1 Visitor meets appropriate degree requirements)
  5. Adequate English proficiency (for scholars, professors, and specialists, adequate language proficiency is determined by the host department or by Syracuse University [the Slutzker Center suggests the TOEFL or IELTS exam or at least a review of written and oral skills], but for student interns, TOEFL, IELTS, or similar English proficiency evaluation is required)


REQUIRED FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Host departments must verify that the J-1 applicant and any accompanying dependents will have sufficient funding for the entire length of stay. The minimum amount of financial support for a J-1 Scholar, Professor, Specialist, or Intern is $1200 per month, plus $500 per month for each accompanying J-2 dependent spouse or child. J-1 Scholars, Professors, Specialists, and Interns may be paid by Syracuse University or have independent financial support. If the department will pay the J-1 applicant a salary, then the amount of financial support should be noted in the appointment letter. If the J-1 applicant will not be paid by the department, then the scholar must submit evidence of financial support in the form of a bank statement or a sponsor letter.

Estimated Costs of Living (Based on Living Expenses for one person)*

Expense Per Month Annual Total
Housing (1 or 2 Bedroom Apartment) $600 - $800 $7200 - $9600
Utilities (Electricity, Gas, Water) $115 - $250 $1380 - $3000
Phone/ Cell Phone $30 - $60 $360 - $720
Health Insurance $60 - $106 $720 - $1272
Groceries $300 - $400 $3600 - $4800
Miscellaneous (Bus, Clothing, etc.) $95 - $150 $1140 - $1800
TOTALS $1200 - $1,766 $14,400 - $21,192

* The estimated costs of living increase with each added dependent. Estimated cost for each J-2 Dependent is $500 per month, equaling $6000 per year in additional costs per dependent (spouse or children).

SEVIS FEE & VISA FEES

Prospective J-1 Scholars, Professors, Specialists, and Student Interns are required to pay certain fees, described below, in order to obtain their J-1 visas and enter the United States. Either the scholar or the department may pay these fees.

SEVIS Fee: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security charges all new J-1 Scholars and Professors a $180 fee to cover the costs of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a central database that manages information related to visitors’ immigration status while in the United States. The Slutzker Center, when sending the DS-2019 form, will provide prospective J-1 visitors with instructions on how to pay the SEVIS fee.

Visa Fees: In addition to the SEVIS fee, the prospective J-1 must pay certain visa fees. Please see the Department of State web site for more information on fee amounts: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1263.html. In addition, if the visa is issued, the scholar may have to pay a further visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable. Prospective J-1 scholars can consult the following web site to determine if they must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and the fee amount: http://travel.state.gov/visa/fees/fees_3272.html. J-1 scholars should consult the web site of the particular embassy or consulate where they plan to apply for their J-1 visa for information on how to pay their visa fees: http://www.usembassy.gov/.

Please note: Canadian citizens must pay the SEVIS fee, but are not required to obtain a J-1 visa stamp.

HEALTH/MEDICAL INSURANCE REQUIREMENT

Federal regulations require J-1 visa holders to maintain the following minimum level of health insurance for themselves and any J-2 dependents for the duration of their stay in the United States:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness;
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his/her home country in the amount of $50,000; and
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000.

J-1 visa holders must provide proof of health insurance for themselves and any family members when they first arrive and report to the Slutzker Center, and again if they later apply for an extension of their J-1 status. J-1 visa holders may purchase any plan that provides the minimum level of coverage listed above.