Maintaining Visa Status

ESSENTIAL IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS
  • Form DS-2019 – Validity dates listed in Section
  • Passport — Must be valid at all times
  • Visa Stamp — May expire while in the U.S.; Must be valid to re-enter the U.S. from travel beyond Canada, Mexico, and the adjacent islands
  • I-94 card – The white card that should be stapled inside your passport


MAINTAINING YOUR PASSPORT

All international faculty, staff, scholars and students should maintain their passport validity. In general, it is best to have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months longer than the intended dates of stay. If renewal of a passport is necessary, check with your embassy or consulate about the renewal process.

J-VISA HEALTH INSURANCE REQUIREMENT

The U.S. Department of State and the Exchange Visitor Program requires that all persons in J-1 or J-2 status have health insurance that meets the following minimum requirements:

  • 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 and J-2 exchange visitors must maintain the health insurance during the entire duration of their program. Persons who willfully fail to maintain coverage are subject to termination from the program.

  • For full-time, paid Syracuse University employees ONLY:
    • J-1 Scholar Researcher/Professors who are paid by Syracuse University and are full-time employees are eligible for health insurance through SU.
    • The health insurance offered through SU meets the minimum requirements listed by the Department of State for medical benefits and for the deductible, but the insurance does not provide coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains.
    • Call the Syracuse University Human Resources/Skytop Offices to find out about your health insurance benefits. (315-443-4042).
    • If you receive health insurance as a benefit to your employment at SU, you will need a supplemental insurance policy that covers you for Medical Evacuation and Repatriation (Applications can be obtained at the Slutzker Center; plan cost is $26.50 per year).
  • For ALL OTHER individuals utilizing personal or government funds who do not receive payment or health insurance from Syracuse University:
    • Any J-1 Scholar whose funding is from personal funds or a source other than SU will need to purchase a health insurance plan which will meet the minimum federal requirements.
    • J-1 Scholars should plan to purchase the insurance upon arrival for both themselves and any J-2 dependents.
    • A Slutzker Center advisor can provide you with information on health insurance plans that meet the minimum federal requirements.
REPORT ADDRESS CHANGES

All non-immigrants (except those in A or G status), 14 years of age or older, who will remain in the U.S. for 30 days or longer, are required by law to notify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) within 10 days of a change of physical address in the United States. The parent or legal guardian of a nonimmigrant child under the age of 14 is responsible for notifying DHS of the child's change of address. Failure to comply with this requirement is a violation of immigration status that is punishable by fine or imprisonment and/or removal (“deportation”).

In order to comply with the address reporting requirement, J-1 visa holders are required by DHS to inform the Slutzker Center at Syracuse University within 10 days of any change of your physical residence (apartment or home address) in the United States. Once you report your changes to the Slutzker Center, we will report the new address to DHS through the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Your physical residence is defined as where you live, not your school, lab, or a P.O. Box. You should also report a separate mailing address (P.O. Box) if it is impossible for mail to be delivered to your physical residence, such as a University Residence Hall.

Human Resources and SU Payroll require student employees, faculty, and staff to update any changes in their mailing address (P.O. Box or physical address where you can receive mail). This is to make sure that paychecks and payment information will be sent to the correct address. To update your mailing address, you must do so through SU’s MySlice service - https://myslice.syr.edu/.

Verbal notice of a change of address to the Slutzker Center does not constitute compliance with the SEVIS 10-day reporting requirement.

Filing a forwarding address with the U.S. Postal Service will not satisfy the reporting requirement for the Department of Homeland Security. Mail from the U.S. government will not be forwarded by the Post Office and will be returned to the issuing government agency as undeliverable. This is important for anyone who is waiting for a Social Security Card from the SSA or a change-of-status or employment authorization from USCIS.

NOTE FOR THOSE WITH PENDING PETITIONS AT USCIS: If You Have an Application Currently Pending with a DHS Office and it is pending with a DHS USCIS Service Center or other field office (i.e. for work authorization or petition for Permanent Residence) updating MySlice or filing the AR-11 online WILL NOT update your address with the respective DHS office which is handling your petition. You must inform USCIS separately in order to update your application address and ensure that you will receive notifications regarding your petition. Contact your advisor at the Slutzker Center for instructions on the best way to inform these offices of your change of address.

OBTAIN TRAVEL SIGNATURE PRIOR TO TRAVEL ABROAD AND REENTRY

  • J-1 and J-2 Visa Holders must obtain a travel signature on their DS-2019 form from the RO/ARO (J-1 Scholar Advisor at the Slutzker Center) in order to re-enter the U.S. after any international travel
  • Signatures are valid for up to one year (or up to 6 months for short-term scholars)
  • To re-enter the United States in J Visa status, you must carry your DS-2019 endorsed for travel, visa, I-94 card, passport, and appointment letter


To be able to travel outside of and return to the United States in J status, you will need to have a valid signature from either the Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) on the front page of your J-1 or J-2 DS-2019 Document in the Travel Validation Section.

Anyone in J-1 or J-2 Status must visit or contact the Slutzker Center at least one week before any travel out of the United States. One week is necessary to allow the Slutzker Center Advisor enough time to sign your documents and to make any necessary changes to your DS-2019 before your travel. Travel signatures are valid for one year (6 months for Short-term Scholars) and must be valid on the date which you wish to return. Also, your DS-2019 must still be valid, meaning your program end-date must not have passed in order to be able to re-enter the United States.

Additionally, J-1 scholars seeking to reenter the United States must have a valid passport. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the date you intend to return to the United States. If your passport is expiring, you should make plans to renew or extend your passport before your travel.

With the exception of visits to Canada, Mexico, and the adjacent Caribbean islands that last less than 30-days [22 C.F.R. § 41.112(d); 8 C.F.R. § 214.1 (b) (1)], you will also need to have a valid J-1 or J-2 visa stamp in your passport to be able to return to the United States. The J-1 and J-2 Visa Stamps cannot be obtained within the United States. Visa appointments must be made with a consulate or embassy outside of the United States for the renewal or initial J-Visa.

Visa Requirements for Transit Through and Travel To Other Countries: Traveling through/to another country may involve obtaining a transit/entry visa to that country. It is best to check the consulate website of the country you wish to visit to get the current visa procedures.

Travel to Canada, Mexico and the Adjacent Islands for those in J-visa status

For visits to Canada, Mexico, and a limited number of adjacent Caribbean islands that last less than 30-days [22 C.F.R. § 41.112(d); 8 C.F.R. § 214.1 (b) (1)], it is possible to return to the United States without having to renew an expired US visa stamp.


Note: Citizens of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria are not eligible for automatic visa revalidation and must always have a valid US Visa Stamp in order to return to the United States.

Please remember that based on your citizenship, you may be required to obtain a visa to enter Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent Caribbean islands. • For Canadian Visas: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/index.html • For Mexican Visas: http://portal.sre.gob.mx/was_eng/

J-1 EXTENSIONS AND LIMITATION OF STAY

  • J-1s cannot hold a tenure track position.
  • Maximum period of participation in a J-Program:
      • J-1 Professor or Research Scholar: Continuous five-year period on a “use or lose” basis
      • J-1 Specialist or Student Intern: One year
      •  J-1 Short-term Scholars: Six months
  • Notify your academic department and an advisor at the Slutzker Center 1-2 months before the end date indicated on your DS-2019 in order for us to process an extension.
  • All extensions must be completed in the SEVIS system before the end date on your DS-2019.


It is important to keep the information on your DS-2019 current. You must always have valid dates of stay; your dates of stay are listed in section number 3 of your DS-2019. The I-94 of an exchange visitor should be marked D/S (duration-of-status), which means that the J-visa holder is legally in the United States as long as he/she is performing the activities listed on the DS-2019, the DS-2019 has not expired, and the J-1 exchange visitor has not violated Exchange Program rules. The I-94 is the white card which should be stapled inside the passport next to the most current J-1 Visa Stamp.

Exchange visitors can also remain in the U.S. for an additional 30 days beyond the expiration date on the DS-2019 provided they are in legal status. The 30-day grace period is meant to allow the J-visa holder time for travel and preparation for departure. The exchange visitor may not work during this period.

Extensions of stay may be possible if you have not exceeded the time allowed under your J-1 status. To process an extension, you will need to fill out the J-1 Extension form, which is available on the Slutzker Center website http://international.syr.edu/ in the Forms Section.

NOTE: You are not eligible for extension if you have obtained a waiver or recommendation of waiver of the two-year home residency requirement.

TRANSFERRING TO ANOTHER PROGRAM AS A J-1

An exchange visitor can transfer to another program sponsor (i.e. transfer to another University) if:

  • the purpose of the program remains the same (same general subject area)
  • the visitor will remain in the same category (i.e. Professor will remain a Professor)
  • the visitor has not reached the maximum stay limit (5 years for Research Scholar/Professor; 1 year for Specialist; 1 year for Student Intern; 6 months for Short-term Scholar)
  • the visitor has not obtained a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement


In order to transfer, written release is needed from the current J-1 sponsor. Please complete the J-1 Scholar Transfer Out form which is available on the http://international.syr.edu/ website in the Forms Section and submit it to the Slutzker Center.

NOTE: You are not eligible for transfer if you have obtained a waiver or recommendation of waiver of the two-year home residency requirement.

J-1 OCCASIONAL LECTURES OR CONSULTATIONS

J-1 scholars may participate in occasional lectures and short-term consultations outside of Syracuse University, but they must have the advance permission of their J-program sponsor. Such lectures and consultations must be incidental to the exchange visitor’s primary program activities. If wages or other remunerations are received for such activities, the exchange visitor must act as an independent contractor. [22CFR 514.20(g)]

To get permission to conduct off-campus lectures or consultations that will involve wages or other payment, you should bring the following to the Slutzker Center before beginning such activities:

  • letter from the inviting organization stating terms and conditions of the consultation/lecture - including dates, hours, purpose of work, amount of pay, and summary of responsibilities
  • letter from your SU academic department recommending that you participate in the lecture or consultation and explaining how the activity fits in with your exchange visitor program.
Upon receipt of the above, one of the ARO’s at the Slutzker Center will issue a letter certifying that the occasional lecture/consultation has been approved.
TWELVE/ TWENTY-FOUR MONTH BAR AFTER PREVIOUS J PARTICIPATION

TWO-YEAR HOME COUNTRY PHYSICAL PRESENCE REQUIREMENT