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J-1 Visa

J-1 visas are given to Researchers, Scholars, Trainees, and Students who are sponsored by government agencies.  Since the visa stamp in your passport is only important for entry or re-entry to the United States, it can expire while you are here without any problem.  However if your visa has expired and you need to leave the United States temporarily, you will need to obtain a new visa in order to return. Before you leave, speak with one of the Advisors about how to obtain a new visa. Walk-in advising is available every weekday from 2:00 to 4:00.

Immigration information applicable to visa status can be found on this page, and has been grouped into the following sections:

1) Sponsor
2) Passport
3) I-94
4) DS-2019 
5) Program Transfer
6) Visits Abroad and Reentry
7) Dependants
8) 2-Year Home Country Residence Requirement


There are two kinds of sponsors 1)The Financial Sponsor and 2) the Visa Sponsor. Sometimes, as in the case of Fulbright Students, one agency serves both functions. Your Financial Sponsor is responsible for paying tuition and fees and providing you with maintenance funds.  In some cases, the tuition is paid by Ohio University, while your maintenance is paid by another sponsor.

Your Visa Sponsor is responsible for issuing the DS-2019 for your admission, extensions, and when necessary, for granting permission to work, to transfer schools and to engage in academic training. The Visa Sponsor is also responsible for issuing a DS-2019 to bring your spouse or children to the United States. If Ohio University issued your DS-2019, then we are your Visa Sponsor and you will need to apply to us whenever a question arises concerning your visa or when a new DS-2019 is needed.

In many cases, we are acting as the advisor on behalf of your Financial Sponsor. In every case, if you have questions, make an appointment with an advisor before taking steps that might effect your visa status.



Be sure to keep your passport in a safe place. It is a very important document.  Most passports are good for a limited period of time. You can apply for extension of your stay in the United States or for various permissions as long as your passport is valid.   However, if your passport will expire soon, you must send it to the Embassy of your country for renewal.  It usually takes several weeks for a passport to be renewed, so be sure to allow enough time. The ISFS Office has the addresses and phone numbers of embassies and consulates to which you can send your passport for renewal.



Form I-94, also called the Arrival-Departure Record or Length of Stay Permit, is the small white card that was attached to your passport at the port of entry to the United States. This form officially shows how long an international exchange visitor can remain in the United States. Under the new regulations, you should be granted Duration of Status (DOS) on your I-94.  This means you are eligible to remain as long as you are doing what you came to do. However, if the date on the DS-2019 is going to expire, you need to apply for extension prior to your program end date(see 'extension' below).



The Form DS-2019 is the basic document needed to obtain a J-1 visa and/or to obtain and maintain valid Exchange Visitor status. It identifies the participant, the Visa and Financial Sponsors, specifies the nature of the program for which the Exchange Visitor is coming to the United States, states the inclusive dates of the program, and shows the amount of financing available to the participant. Upon processing by an Embassy Official or an Immigration Inspector at the port of entry, an advisory opinion may be marked on the form concerning the two-year home country residence requirement will effect you if you want to change your visa in the future. Note that this is just an "advisory opinion." A final determination will be made on the matter by US Department of State if you want to apply for a change of Visa in the future.



An Exchange Visitor in any category may transfer from one program sponsor to another if the purpose of his/her transfer is to complete the objective for which he/she was admitted to Exchange Visitor status. The Exchange Visitor obtains from the new Visa Sponsor a form DS-2019 accepting him/her under the new sponsorship. For advice on how to apply for permission to transfer, make an appointment with an International Student Advisor.



When planning to travel abroad, persons on a J-1 visa should bring in form DS-2019 to the ISFS Office to obtain a signature. Students in good standing will receive a signature on the DS-2019, which will show to an immigration official that he/she is eligible to return. Exchange Visitors in valid status can travel to Canada, Mexico and many of the Caribbean islands and return without a valid visa in their passports so long as they stay fewer than thirty days. All that is needed is a valid passport, the signed DS-2019 and a valid I-94. Return from travel to other countries may require a new visa in order to reenter the United States. Speak to an advisor about your travel plans if you are not sure whether you will need to obtain a new visa.



The spouse and unmarried minor children (under 21 years old) of a J-1 Exchange Visitor who accompany the participant to the United States or who follow in order to join the participant are given J-2 dependent visas. Other family members, such as parents, brothers or sisters are not eligible for J-2 visas. If you want to bring your family here to join you after you have enrolled, you will need to obtain a new DS-2019 for their use to obtain the J-2 visas. In order for your Visa Sponsor to issue the DS-2019, you will need to document how you can financially support your family.



Under the J-1 visa regulations, persons may be subject to a regulation that says they must return to their home country or their previous country of residence for two years after they have finished their program and before they can change their visas. This might happen if you decide after you have finished your program that you want to remain in the United Sates rather than go home. The following persons are subject to this requirement:

  1. Those who are financed by their government, by the United States government, or by an international organization or an academic institution which uses funds furnished by one of these governments for international exchange purposes
  2. Those whose skills are determined by the United States Department of Labor to be needed in their own countries.

In some circumstances, this requirement can be waived. A determination of whether someone is subject and whether the requirement can be waived is made by the United States Department of State at the time a person applies for a change of visa. If you think you will want to change your visa in the future, make an appointment with an International Student Advisor.



International Student & Faculty Services
Walter International Education Center/15 Park Place
Athens, OH 45701
Tel: 740.593.4330 | Fax: 740.593.4328 |Email: isfs@ohio.edu
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