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J-1 Scholars

The Exchange Visitor Program, administered by the US Department of State, is used to bring to the US students, trainees, teachers, professors, international visitors, alien physicians, government visitors, research scholars, short-term scholars, specialists, camp counselors, participants in summer student travel/work, and participants in au pair programs. Drexel is currently authorized to sponsor students, professors, research scholars and short-term scholars (includes postdoctoral fellows, and visiting and temporary faculty and research staff). The Exchange Visitor Program and its J-1 visa are distinguished from all other nonimmigrant visa classes by its underlying philosophy of educational and cultural exchange and its fostering of international understanding.
Departments wishing to sponsor a student, professor, research scholar or short-term scholar through the Exchange Visitor Program must complete the “J1 Scholar Application Department” and return it to International Students and Scholars Services along with the appropriate J-1 Application Forms from the visitor, a resume and invitation letter.

Click here for instructions and forms.

Exchange Visitor Categories

The following are brief descriptions of the J-1 categories. Although a department may request a certain category for an Exchange Visitor (EV), International Students and Scholars Services will make the final determination of the appropriate category for the EV.
Professors and research scholars may be sponsored as exchange visitors only if they have appropriate academic or similar credentials, will participate in a program that "promotes interchange, mutual enrichment, and linkages between research and educational institutions in the United States and foreign countries," and have planned activities that are compatible with those objectives.

Professor is an individual primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting at post-secondary accredited educational institutions, museums, libraries, or similar types of institutions. A professor may also conduct research, unless disallowed by the sponsor.
Departments should be aware that "the participant shall not be a candidate for a tenure track position" [22 CFR 514.20(d)(i)] provision. Although the position may be a permanent position at Drexel, the department and the exchange visitor (EV) must agree that the EV's time in the position will be temporary. The maximum length of stay for a J-1 professor is 5years.

Research Scholar is an individual primarily conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project institutions, corporate research facilities, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions, or similar types of institutions. The research scholar may also teach or lecture, unless disallowed by the sponsor. The maximum length of stay for a J-1 research scholar is 5years. 

Once the EV’s program ends ISSS must complete the EV’s SEVIS record.  This means that the EV would be unable to reenter the US as a J1 Research Scholar or Professor for two years.  The EV could, however, enter as a tourist, H1B (if not subject to 2 year home residency), etc.

The Department of State does not specify minimum academic credentials; however, as a general rule, a master's degree or a bachelors degree with extensive experience in the relevant field is adequate documentation of bona fide research scholar status, although undergraduate students have been successful in the obtaining a J-1 research visa.

Short-term Scholar is defined as: "a professor, research scholar, specialist, or a person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the United States on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills at research institutions, museum, libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions, or similar types of institutions" [22 CFR 514.4(b)]. The maximum length of stay for a short-term scholar is 6 months. The short-term scholar is not permitted to apply for an extension of stay.

Student Intern program is a structured and guided work-based learning program for students currently enrolled in postsecondary academic institutions outside the United States, set forth in an individualized Training/Internship Placement Plan, that recognizes the need for work-based experience and provides on-the-job exposure to U.S. techniques, methodologies and expertise. Most master’s level candidates and above are not eligible. Student must be evaluated by a formal evaluation process.  Before offering an internship, departments must discuss with ISSS first and then will be emailed separate application forms.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to participate in the J-1 Student Intern program, a participant must:
  • Be currently enrolled in, and pursuing a degree at an accredited postsecondary academic institution outside the United States.
  • Pursue the internship to fulfill the educational objectives for his or her current degree program at his or her home institution.
  • Have verifiable English language skills sufficient to function on a day-to-day basis in the internship environment.
  • Return to his or her academic program outside the United States and fulfill and obtain a degree from such academic institution after completion of the internship program.
  • Have sufficient finances to support himself or herself for the entire stay in the United States.

Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement

Certain exchange visitors are not eligible for lawful permanent residency or to change to another visa status in the US until they have resided and been physically present in their country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for a total of at least 2 years following departure from the US in J status. These restrictions apply to an exchange visitor:
  1. whose participation in the program for which he came to the US was financed in whole or part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the US government or by the government of the country of his nationality or last legal residence;
  2. who, at the time of admission or acquisition of [exchange visitor status] was a national or resident of a country which the US Department of State, pursuant to regulations prescribed by it, designated as clearly requiring the services of persons engaged in the field of specialized knowledge or skill in which the alien was engaged.

Waiver of the 2-year home-country physical presence requirement

Under certain conditions, an exchange visitor may apply for a waiver of the 2-year home-country physical presence requirement. However, International Student and Scholar Services may not assist with J-1 Program Waivers as the US Department of State believes this to be a conflict of interest for J program sponsors.  Please review the Department of State website for instructions and guidance on waiving the two-year foreign residence requirement, 212 (e): http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1296.html

Mandatory Health Insurance Requirements for J-1 Visa Holders

The Exchange Visitor Program has strict, mandatory health insurance requirement for J-1 visa holders and their J-2 dependents (Section 514.4 of 22 CFR 62):
  • Sponsors shall require each exchange visitor to have insurance in effect which covers the exchange visitor for sickness or accident during the period of time that an exchange visitor participates in the sponsor's exchange visitor program. Minimum coverage shall provide:
    1. Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness;
    2. Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500;
    3. Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $10,000; and
    4. A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
  • An insurance policy secured to fulfill the requirements of this section:
    1. May require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions which is reasonable as determined by current industry standards;
    2. May include provision for co-insurance under the terms of which the exchange visitor may be required to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness; and
    3. Shall not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which the exchange visitor participates
  • Any policy, plan, or contract secured to till the above requirements must, at minimum, be:
    1. Underwritten by an insurance corporation having A.M. Best rating of "A-" or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of "A-" or above, a Standard & Poor's Claims-paving Ability rating of "A-" or above, a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above, or such other rating as the Agency may from time to time specify, or
    2. Backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor's home country; or
    3. Part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor; or
    4. Offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by the Health Care Financing Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Federal, state or local government agencies, state colleges and universities, and public community colleges may, if permitted by law, self-insure any or all of the above-required insurance coverage.

  • At the request of a non-governmental sponsor of an exchange visitor program, and upon a showing that such sponsor has funds readily available and under its control sufficient to meet the requirements of this section, the Agency may permit the sponsor to self-insure or to accept full financial responsibility for such requirements.

  • The Agency, in its sole discretion, may condition its approval of self-insurance or the acceptance of full financial responsibility by the non-governmental sponsor by requiring such sponsor to secure a payment bond in favor of the Agency guaranteeing the sponsor's obligations hereunder.
  • An accompanying spouse or dependent of an exchange visitor is required to be covered by insurance in the amounts set forth in Sec. 514.14(a) above. Sponsors shall inform exchange visitors of this requirement, in writing, in advance of the exchange visitor's arrival in the United States.

  • An exchange visitor who willfully fails to maintain the insurance coverage set forth above while a participant in an exchange visitor program or who makes a material misrepresentation to the sponsor concerning such coverage shall be deemed to be in violation of these regulations shall not be subject to termination as a participant. [58 FR 15196, Mar. 19, 1993, as amended at 59 FR 34761, July 7, 1994]

Employment for J-2 visa holders

J-2 dependents may apply for employment authorization from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services(USCIS) provided the income from this employment will be “used to support the family’s customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Employment will not be authorized if this income is needed to support the J-1 principal alien.” [8 CFR 214.2(j)(1)(v)(A)]
J-2 dependents wishing to apply for employment authorization must make an appointment with International Students and Scholars Services.