University Departments: J-1 Scholar Process
Details and Departmental Responsibilities
Ohio University has a long tradition of bringing international visitors to campus for academic exchange. The information on this page pertains to the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa program. Ohio University has been granted permission by the U.S. Department of State to sponsor visitors on this program.
Part I: Details of the J-1 visa
How to determine if the visitor needs a J-1 visa
In some limited instances, the J-1 visa may not be necessary. A visitor may be able to use the Temporary Visitor for Business (B-1) visa, or the Visa Waiver program, to conduct activities at OHIO. To determine if your visitor will require J-1 visa sponsorship by OHIO, please review the following chart.
|J-1 Research Scholar or Professor||J-1 Short-term Scholar||B-1/Visa Waiver|
|Appropriate Activities||Collaborative research, teaching (NOT tenure track), consultation, cultural exchange, observation, demonstration of special skills||Collaborative research, teaching (NOT tenure track), consultation, cultural exchange, observation, demonstration of special skills||Conference attendance, meeting to formalize agreements, independent research (with no benefit to OHIO), observation (with no participation)|
|Length||Minimum: 3 weeks, Maximum 5 years||No minimum, Maximum of 6 months||Generally 6 months for B-1 and 90 days for Visa Waiver; Officer at the Port of Entry has discretion to reduce length|
|Compensation Options||May receive a salary or other type of payment, or may be self-funded||May receive a salary or other type of payment, or may be self-funded||May receive reimbursement for reasonable expenses related to activities. May receive honorarium ONLY IF the visit at OHIO is 9 days or less AND the visitor has not received honoraria from more than 5 other US institutions in the past 6 months|
|Health Insurance Requirements||Mandatory, policy requirements set by federal regulation||Mandatory, policy requirements set by federal regulation||None, though travel insurance is highly recommended|
|Social Security Number Eligibility||Eligible||Eligible||Not eligible|
|Fees for Visitor||$220 SEVIS fee + embassy appointment fees||$220 SEVIS fee + embassy appointment fees||Embassy appointment fees for B-1 visa or ESTA fee for Visa Waiver|
|ISSS Role||Complete application must be submitted to ISSS, who will prepare visa paperwork within 5 business days||Complete application must be submitted to ISSS, who will prepare visa paperwork within 5 business days||No ISSS involvement, host department provides invitation letter|
|Impact on Future US Travel||Subject to 24 month bar on repeat participation; may be subject to two year home residency requirement||May be subject to two year home residency requirement||None|
|Spousal benefits||Spouse on J-2 visa is eligible to apply for work authorization||Spouse on J-2 visa is eligible to apply for work authorization, but may not be practical||There are no dependent visa options|
|Restrictions||Visitor cannot have held J-1 Research Scholar or Professor status within past 24 months (unless transferring active record), cannot have held any J status other than Short-Term Scholar in past 12 months||None||None, but visitor must be sure to obtain B-1 (business) visa, not B-2 (tourist) visa|
There is another J-1 visa option that is specific to visitors who are pursuing a degree at a foreign university, and wish to fulfill a required internship at OHIO. Please contact ISSS for additional information if you believe this visa may be appropriate.
If none of these options seem appropriate for your visitor, you may need to consult with the Office of Legal Affairs about the possibility of other visa types.
International visitors included in the Exchange Visitor Program may request immigration documents for their dependents to travel to the US with them. Dependents include spouses and children under the age of 21.
International visitors included in the Exchange Visitor Program must comply with the Department of State regulations regarding health insurance. This includes any dependents who accompany the visitor. Find detailed information about the health insurance requirements, as well as example policies, here.
Financial Support Documents
International visitors included in the Exchange Visitor Program must provide financial documents for themselves and any accompanying dependents. Any financial support/salary from Ohio University should be included.
Two-year home residency requirement
Certain international visitors included in the Exchange Visitor Program will be subject to a requirement that they return to their home country for two years before being allowed to return to the US in certain immigration statuses. This requirement is most common for international visitors receiving financial support from their home government or the US government and for international visitors on their country’s “Skills List”. Please consult with ISSS if more information is needed.
English language proficiency
Federal regulation requires Ohio University to assess a prospective Exchange Visitor’s level of English proficiency to ensure the Exchange Visitor possesses “sufficient proficiency in the English language, as determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency, successfully to participate in his or her program and to function on a day-to-day basis.”
The department hosting the Exchange Visitor must assess the individual’s English language proficiency as part of the application process. Departments can choose one of the options below:
- Provide the results of a recognized English proficiency test (TOEFL, IELTs, etc.) demonstrating that the Exchange Visitor’s proficiency meets or exceeds the program's requirement*. Test results must be no more than three years old; include the test results with the Exchange Visitor application.
- Provide a signed document from an academic institution or English language school verifying the Exchange Visitor’s English proficiency meets or exceeds the program's requirement*. The letter must be no more than three years old; a copy of the letter should be included with the Exchange Visitor application.
- Provide a written summary of an in-person, videoconference, or telephone interview of the Exchange Visitor demonstrating that the Exchange Visitor’s proficiency meets or exceeds the program requirement*. The Physics Department prepared a helpful guidance document. It is shared with their permission.
*The regulations do not specify the level of proficiency that must be demonstrated. Instead, the department needs to evaluate whether the visitor has the skills needed to successfully communicate within the department and in the greater community.
Part II: University procedures
To request immigration documents for an international visitor, the department must complete the Application for Exchange Visitor; also available on our forms page. Once the completed application, invitation letter, and supporting financial documents are submitted to ISSS, a Form DS2019 will be issued for the international visitor and any dependents. This process may take several weeks to complete, depending on how quickly the application form can be completed.
It is the responsibility of the sponsoring department to mail the DS-2019 to the Exchange Visitor.
When the international visitor receives the Form DS-2019, he or she will need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee of $220 (information included with the DS-2019) and apply for a J-1 visa to enter the US. Dependents do not need to pay the SEVIS fee; they do need to apply for J-2 visas. This may also take several weeks.
IMPORTANT: The international visitor may enter the US up to 30 days prior to the start date on the DS-2019. The Exchange Visitor must report to ISSS within 3 business days of entering the US. If the visitor is not able to enter the US and report to ISSS during this window, ISSS will issue an updated DS-2019 with a later start date. Please contact ISSS if this situation arises.
After arriving at Ohio University, the international visitor and the department host/contact must report the arrival to ISSS and schedule a new scholar orientation meeting. The international visitor must present their immigration documents including their passport, DS-2019, and I-94 when reporting their arrival. The international visitor must also either bring proof of the required health insurance or purchase university coverage. The orientation meeting will include information about maintaining immigration status, health insurance, and applying for a Social Security Number.
The hosting department should contact ISSS at least one month prior to the end date on the visitor’s DS2019 in the event an extension is needed. The extension request form can be found at the bottom of this page.
The department must notify ISSS when the visitor departs the university early or at the end of their program.
Please refer to our Forms page to find the applications for new and continuing J-1 scholars.