J-1 Exchange Visitors

J-1 Visa Exchange Activities

The purpose of the University of Cincinnati’s J-1 exchange visitor program is to provide courses of study, lecturing, and research opportunities in the various fields of instruction and research conducted by the University of Cincinnati for qualified international students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars and specialists. Not everyone qualifies to be a J-1 exchange visitor.

The following are the J-1 category definitons for which the University of Cincinnati is authorized:

  • Student
    An international visitor coming to the U.S. to engage full-time in a degree program or a prescribed course of study (non-degree study). There is a 2 year maximum for non-degree students.
  • Professor
    An international visitor coming to the U.S. primarily to teach/lecture (5 year maximum).
  • Research Scholar
    An international visitor coming to the U.S. to engage primarily in research, observe or consult in conjunction with a research scholar (5 year maximum).
  • Short-Term Scholar
    An international visitor coming to the U.S. for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training or demonstrating special skills for a period not to exceed 6 months.
  • Specialist
    An international visitor who is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill coming to the U.S. for observing, consulting, or demonstrating special skills (one year maximum).


Repeat Exchange Visitors

Exchange visitors in the Research Scholar or Professor categories who complete a program, regardless of the length, are prohibited from returning to the U.S. as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar for 24 months. J-1 exchange visitors in the U.S. for more than 6 months in a category other than Professor or Research scholar are prohibited from returning to the U.S. as a Professor or Research Scholar for 12 months.


Transfer Exchange Visitors

If an Exchange Visitor is transferring from another institution in the U.S. to UC, The exchange visitor will not be allowed to report to UC until he/she has been released to transfer from the current institution. In transfer cases, the supervisor for the Exchange Visitor must write a letter explaining how the work at UC or the new department can be considered a continuation of the work begun initially. Transferring from one exchange visitor program to another will not extend the Exchange Visitors stay beyond set time limits. Exchange visitors sponsored by a government agency can not transfer from that government agency to UC.


J-1 Visa Extensions

Any Exchange Visitor wanting an extension of stay beyond the original appointment must do so prior to the expiration of the current DS-2019. The request to extend the program must be received at least 5 days prior to the expiration of the current DS-2019, but the sooner the better. Proof of financial support and insurance (insurance card and copy of the policy) meeting the regulations must also be supplied at the time of extension for those not covered by University Benefits.

Exchange Visitors in the Professor or Research Scholar category have a maximum stay of five (5) years. Short-Term Scholars have a maximum stay of six (6) months. Specialists have a maximum stay of one year. Non-degree students have a maximum stay of (2) two years. Be sure that the Exchange Visitor has the amount of time you are requesting left.

UC International Services Mandatory Check-In

All J-1 exchange visitors and accompanying dependents must report to UC International Services upon arrival in Cincinnati. All J-1 exchange visitors are required to attend an orientation conducted by UC International Services upon arrival. Orientations are held on the last Thursday of each month, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Room 3134 Edwards Center One.

Exchange visitors are required to attend the first available orientation after arrival. The sponsoring department must ensure the Exchange Visitor attends orientation. Exchange Visitors will be informed of the orientation upon check-in with UC International Services.


Two Year Home Residency Requirement

Many Exchange Visitors have a requirement to return to their home country for two years at the end of their approved stay. If subject to the requirement, an Exchange Visitor will not be able to change to another status within the U.S. until the requirement has been fulfilled or waived. Not all Exchange Visitors can obtain a waiver of the requirement. Instructions on obtaining a waiver of the requirement are under the Visa & Immigration section of our website. Standard processing time for a waiver is 12 months.


Financial Support/Invitations Letters

Financial support must be documents in order to issue a DS-2019. At a minimum, an exchange visitor must have at least $1,250 in monthly support ($15,000 per year). Exchange Visitors wishing to bring family to the U.S. must show an additional $4,000 (per year) for a spouse and $2,000 (per year) for each child.

Any support, including support coming from UC, must be documented and forwarded to UC International Services as a PDF attachment. The forms should be emailed to international.students@uc.edu. An appointment/invitation letter must be prepared for each for Exchange Visitors and emailed as a PDF attachment as well.


Insurance Requirements

All J-1 Exchange Visitors (and dependents) are required to have health insurance that meets Department of State Requirements. Such requirements include:

  • medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness; 
  • repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000; 
  • medical evacuation to the home country in the amount of $50,000; 
  • a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

The insurance policy must be underwritten by an insurance corporation having:

  • an A.M. Best rating of 'A' or above,
  • an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of 'A-1' or above, 
  • a Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying ability rating of 'A-' or above, OR
  • a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above.

Insurance coverage backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor’s home country shall be deemed to meet this requirement.

Please make sure each Exchange Visitor understands this requirement. The department OR the Exchange Visitor must pay for this coverage. If the insurance requirement is not complied with, J-1 status will be revoked, and the Exchange Visitor will not be allowed to continue at UC. Exchange visitors who will be employees covered by UC benefits will be in compliance.

If an Exchange Visitor in the student category will be enrolled for courses, he/she will automatically be charged for the UC student health insurance plan. The plan meets Department of State standards and can only be waived if the student has insurance that is equal to or greater than the UC plan and it comes from an American based insurance company. Exchange visitors will be informed of this requirement upon receipt of the DS-2019.

Department Request

All requests for J-1 Exchange Visitor status must be submitted electronically using the UC International Services database iBearcatsGlobal.

  1. Click on the "Administrative Services for University Departments" link.
  2. You will then be asked to enter your University 6+2 login information.
  3. Next you will click on the "Departmental Services" link from the menu.
  4. If you don’t already have iStart access you will need to click the "Departmental Access Request" link.
  5. Once you have department access you will click the "J-1 Scholar Application" link to request a new J-1 Exchange Visitor or the "J-1 Scholar Extension" link to extend the stay of a current J-1 Exchange Visitor.
  6. Follow all instructions and provide all the requested information. The required supporting documents should be supplied in PDF format.

Any request for J-1 Exchange Visitor status will need to be certified by the Department Head. Requests coming from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center must be submitted through Viki Kimball’s office.

Start this process early! No DS-2019 will be issued for a date already past, or for a date by which the Exchange Visitor cannot possibly arrive. The visa application process is very time consuming in many countries. You should start this process at least 90 days before you want the Exchange Visitor to start. If the exchange visitor is not able to arrive in the U.S. and report to UC International Services within 30 days of the requested start date, the DS-2019 becomes invalid.

Instruct all Exchange Visitors and accompanying dependents to report to UC International Services immediately upon arrival at UC. All J-1 exchange visitors are required to pay a $180 SEVIS free prior to applying for the J-1 visa. Exchange visitors will be sent instructions on how to do this with their DS-2019.


UC ID Numbers

In order to submit a request for a DS-2019, the prospective exchange visitor must have a UC ID number (M number).

  • UC Exchange Visitors being paid by UC must be processed through UCFLEX.
  • UC Exchange Visitors not being paid by UC can be processed using the GETit create identity system.

When using the GETit create identity system the "badge type" selected should be "special programs" for visiting researchers or professors or "visiting student" for students coming from overseas who will do research.

Exchange students who will be enrolled in classes must have a Basic Data Form processed by the University Registrar. This will create their M number. Questions about this process for exchange students should be directed to UC International Programs at 513-556-0395. Exchange Visitors being sponsored by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will have a UC Affiliate ID created for them.


Express Mail Services for DS-2019 Forms

We recommend that all DS-2019's be mailed by express mail. To request express mail service you need to use eshipglobal. We have discounted express mail rates negotiated for UC departments with DHL and FedEx, but you must use the eshipglobal service. Do not go through the DHL or FedEx websites directly.

You will need a departmental credit card to set up a user account. Our office will be notified once you have requested a shipment. If you experience any difficulty in registering and processing a shipment, please use the "Help" link in the site for step by step instructions. If you have additional questions about how to use this service, please email support@eshipglobal.com.

If you do not use eshipglobal, you can request that someone in the department be called to pick up the DS-2019 to express mail the forms.


Fee for DS-2019 Issuance

UC International Services charges a fee of $50 per exchange visitor to departments who are bringing individuals to UC to participate in "for profit" or revenue generating training or educational programs (i.e. the visitor is paying the UC department to participate or tuition monies are directed back to the department at a higher level than for regularly enrolled students). A check made out to "UC international" in the appropriate amount should accompany these request forms.