University of Nebraska Medical Center

J-1 Scholars

The primary purpose of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is to foster the exchange of ideas between Americans and foreign nationals and to stimulate international collaborative teaching and research efforts, as detailed in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.

Information for UNMC Departments

UNMC departments will find important information about sponsoring international visitors for J-1 status on the UNMC intranet, which requires log-in. This information includes regulations, requirements, and considerations that directly impact our ability to continue our J-1 sponsorship approval, as well as request forms and what to do when the scholar arrives.

Information for J-1 Scholars

These topics include important information to help you understand the requirements of J-1 status.

Insurance requirements

J-1 Scholars and their J-2 dependents are required to maintain health insurance and medical evacuation insurance for the duration of the J-1 program. Most UNMC-sponsored J-1 researchers are employees of UNMC and eligible for UNMC health insurance. However, the provisions of J visa insurance mean that only the Basic and High Option plans available through UNMC employer-sponsored health insurance meet the minimum levels of required coverage. This is due to the stipulation that the deductible is no higher than $500. The Low Option does not meet this requirement. In addition, J-1 exchange visitors are required to purchase medical evacuation and repatriation of remains insurance separately from their UNMC health insurance plan, since this benefit is not included.

More about health insurance

Maintenance of status

J-1 scholars are responsible for maintaining legal status while in the U.S. Maintaining status primarily includes:

  • Maintaining insurance.
  • Never engaging in employment without USCIS authorization of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Maintaining a current passport.
  • Maintaining a current Form DS-2019.
  • Performing the objective that is listed in Part 4 of the DS-2019.

Notify the Office of Global Engagement of address change within 10 days.

Time limit
J-1 scholars may be employed by UNMC for a maximum of five years after the beginning date on the DS-2019. If your DS-2019 expires before the five-year limit, your department must send us a request form to extend your DS-2019. This should be done 15-90 days before the expiration date.

J-1 researchers are eligible to transfer to a new UNMC department or to a new program sponsor if they continue to follow the same program objective stated on the DS-2019 and if they are currently maintaining legal status at UNMC. Transferring does not extend the five-year time limit. J-1 scholars should contact the Office of Global Engagement when considering a transfer to a different department or a different program sponsor. Our office must approve any transfer before it can take place.

Home country visit requirement

When completing the J-1 program, many exchange visitors are required to return to their home country for at least two years before they are eligible to change to an H employee visa or to permanent residency. J-1 scholars and J-2 dependents may be subject to the requirement for any of three reasons:

It is sometimes possible to obtain a waiver of this two-year requirement. This process is started by contacting the U.S. Department of State and will require a statement of no objection from the home country's government. The entire process takes three to eight months. Once a waiver has been approved by the U.S.. Department of State, we can no longer extend the DS-2019 form and the J-1 scholar will not be eligible to transfer J-1 status to a new sponsor.

12-month wait

Individuals who have spent six months or more in the United States in any J status must wait 12 months from the end of the J program before beginning a new program as a research scholar.

Temporary departure from the U.S.

Before temporarily departing the U.S., exchange visitors are required to bring their DS-2019 forms to our office for a signature. If a visa has expired, a new one must be obtained from a U.S. consulate before re-entering the U.S. unless the J-1 scholar is traveling to Canada or Mexico. J-1 scholars and J-2 dependents may re-enter the U.S. from Canada or Mexico if their stay is less than 30 days.

Family Members, Guests of J-1 Scholars