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. [22CFR 514.20(b)]
The following topics are explained below. Click on the topic to view it.
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 are therefore 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.
J-1 researchers are responsible to maintain legal status while in the U.S. Maintaining status primarily includes:
- Maintaining insurance
- Never engaging in employment without USCIS authorization
- Maintaining a current passport
- Maintaining a current Form DS-2019
- Performing the objective that is listed on Part 4 of the DS-2019
Notify the Office of Global Engagement of address change within 10 days
J-1 researchers 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 their J-1 program 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 International Studies and Programs when considering a transfer to a different department or a different program sponsor. Our office must approve any transfer before it can take place.
When completing their 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:
- Receiving government financing from the U.S. or scholar’s home country government.
- Skills are critically needed by the scholar’s home country
- J-1 Visa is currently sponsored by ECFMG
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 government. The entire process takes three to eight months. More information can be found on the web at http://travel.state.gov/. It is important to remember that 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.
Individuals who have spent six months or more in the United States in any J status must wait 12 months from the end of their J program before beginning a new program as a research scholar.
Before temporarily departing the U.S., exchange visitors are required to bring their DS-2019 to our office for a signature. If the 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.
Every husband/wife or child with J-2 status must have their own Form DS-2019 to apply for a J-2 Visa at a US Consulate and later, to present at the port-of-entry upon arrival into the US. Each J-2 family member should sign his or her own DS-2019, except for children under age 14. If a dependent is under age 14, the J-1 exchange visitor should sign that dependent's DS-2019. While in the US, each J-2 family member is legally required to continuously have health and medical evacuation insurance coverage. The SEVIS Fee, which is required for J-1 Scholars, is not required for J-2 family members. To begin the process of sponsoring a family member for J-2 status, see the link for the F-2/J-2 sponsorship form.
J-2 dependents are eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (work permit). They are granted for one year and can be extended. See the instruction link below.
F-2 and J-2 Sponsorship Form (PDF file)
Many J, H, and F Visa holders wish to invite other family members such as parents to visit them in Omaha. The appropriate type of visa for this purpose is a B-2 Visa. The following are some guidelines for inviting parents or other relatives or friends.
You should write a short letter addressed to “Visa Officer”. In the letter, you should mention the following:
- How this person is related to you
- The approximate month that this person would arrive in the US
- How long the person will stay in the US
- The address in the Omaha area where they will stay if they will stay with you
- If you have J-1 status, a copy of your DS-2019 and either a copy of a recent pay-deposit sheet or a short letter from your sponsoring department stating that your J-1 program is expected to continue while your family members are in the US.
- If you have H-1B status, a copy of UNMC’s H-1B approval notice (Form I-797) and either a copy of a recent pay-deposit sheet or a short letter from your sponsoring department stating that your employment is current and expected to continue until the ending date of the H-1B approval notice. Your sponsoring department may also state that they plan to continue H-1B sponsorship if the current H-1B approval notice will expire soon.
- If you have F-1 status, a copy of your I-20 and a copy of your current or most recent class schedule.
This method has been very successful during the past few years. This office does not provide an “invitation” to your relatives or friends because this is a personal invitation not related to an official visit to UNMC and because such a letter would not strengthen your case.
For questions or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Office of Global Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 402-559-8449.