Hiring a J-1 Scholar

The J non-immigrant visa category is for individuals approved to participate in work- and study-based exchange visitor programs. 

At the University of Cincinnati, there are three types of J-1 exchange visitors: students, interns and scholars. An exchange visitor cannot be a candidate for a tenure-track position.

  • J-1 research scholars (5 year maximum) primarily conduct research, observe, or consult in connection with a research project. The scholar may also teach or lecture.
  • J-1 professors (5 year maximum) primarily teach, lecture, observe, or consult. The professor may also conduct research.
  • J-1 short term scholars (less than 6 months) can be professors, research scholars, specialists, or persons with similar education or accomplishments coming to the U.S. on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills.
  • J-1 specialists (1 year maximum) are individuals who are expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill who come to the U.S. for observing, consulting or demonstrating those special skills

Make a Request

All requests for J-1 Exchange Visitor status must be submitted electronically using the UC International database iBearcatsGlobal. Upon successful completion, UC International will send the scholar their Certificate of Eligibility, also known as the DS-2019, which allows them to apply for the J-1 visa.

  1. Get access to iBearcatsGlobal (if needed).
  2. Use the "Add New Person" eForm to create a record for the visitor.
  3. Submit the "J-1 Scholar Application" eForm.
  4. Provide the requested information in PDF format.

Start this process early! You should start this process at least 90 days before you want the Exchange Visitor to start.

  • The visa application process is very time consuming in many countries.
  • No DS-2019 will be issued for a date already past, or for a date by which the Exchange Visitor cannot possibly arrive.  
  • If the exchange visitor is not able to arrive in the U.S. and report to UC International within 30 days of the requested start date, the DS-2019 becomes invalid.
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/Xaf30yj0r2s?rel=0

The sponsoring department must complete the "J-1 Program Information" section of the eForm.

The “J-1 Applicant Information” section, which includes Biographical Information, General Information and Dependent Information, can be completed by the sponsoring department or the prospective J-1 exchange visitor.

If you want the exchange visitor to complete this section, you can give them access via the eForm.

  • The visitor will be sent an email with a link to access the section and instructions on how to complete the eForm. 
  • Once completed, the department will receive an email  that the section has been submitted.

Biographical information includes

  • name
  • date of birth
  • gender
  • city of birth
  • country of birth
  • country of citizenship
  • country of permanent residence
  • address, etc. 

Exchange visitors are permitted to bring dependents to the US with them. Dependents can be a spouse or unmarried children under the age of 21.

The “J-2 SEVIS Dependent” request eForm must be completed for each dependent a J-1 exchange visitor wishes to bring to the US.

The sponsoring department will complete the “J-1 Program Information” section.

  1. Read the instructions and find the field that most closely matches the project for which the visitor is coming to participate. 
  2. If the exchange visitor is a medical doctor in the home country, write and attach “no patient” contact letter. 
  3. Fill out information about the site of activity, medical insurance and supervisor. 
  4. Complete and submit the “Checklist for Export Control Issues for Sponsoring/Hiring International Workers” linked at the bottom of the eForm.

J-1 Exchange Visitors must demonstrate financial support of at least $18,000 per year in order to be issued a DS-2019. An additional $4,000 per year is necessary for a spouse and $2,000 for each child. 

Proof of financial support must be uploaded in PDF file format as part of the request.

  • If University support is being offered, the department should prepare and upload an offer letter on UC letterhead. 
  • If not, the exchange visitor needs to provide documents (bank statements, etc.) that demonstrate financial support prior to submitting this section.  

Exchange Visitors are required to demonstrate English proficiency at a level that the exchange visitor can perform their duties and navigate daily life in the US.

Departments must collect  proof of English Proficiency from the prospective Exchange Visitor, which can include:

  • TOEFL - Score of 66 or higher 
  • IELTS - Overall band score of 6.0 or higher
  • PEARSON - Score of 46 or higher
  • Cambridge English Language Assessment Test - a Grade C or higher
  • Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) - a score of 780 or higher 
  • Public English Test System (PETS) - a Grade 5 score 
  • Advanced English Training Program from the China Ministry of Education 
  • Completion of Advanced English Training Program at a Ministry of Education Center for Overseas Study (Chinese scholars) 
  • Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR) - Score of B2 or higher
  • A transcript showing degree completion from an academic institution where English is the means of instruction. 

In place of an acceptable score on an English language test or transcript, prospective Exchange Visitors can take the Oral English Proficiency Test for Visiting Scholars online through the Center for ESL.

  • There is a $50 fee to take the test. 
  • The Center for ESL will send a copy of the score to you to upload. 
  • To take the test, the visitor will need a UCID number, username and password. 

Research Scholars or professors whose native language is English do not have to provide documentation of verifiable English.

The following countries/territories are considered English speaking for this purpose:

Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Bermuda; Botswana; Cameroon; Canada (except Quebec); Cayman Islands; Denmark; Dominica; Fiji; Finland; Gambia; Ghana; Gibraltar; Grenada; Guyana;Ireland; Jamaica; Kenya; Lesotho; Liberia; Malawi; Malta; Mauritius; Montserrat; Nambia; Netherlands; New Zealand; Nigeria; Norway; Papua New Guinea; Scotland; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; Singapore; Solomon Islands; South Africa; St. Kitts and Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Swaziland; Sweden; Tanzania; Tonga; Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; Uganda; United Kingdom; Vanuatu; Virgin Islands; Wales; Zambia; Zimbabwe.

All requests for a J-1 exchange visitor require an Export Control Certification. This ensures that UC has the proper export authorizations in place, if the foreign national will be exposed to export controlled items, technology, software, and or information.

  • You will likely need to work with the supervising faculty member to obtain the correct answers to this section. 
  • Do not complete the Export Control Certification eForm until the Application and Position sections of the request are completed.
  • When follow up is required, supervisors will be contacted directly by UC International or the Export Control Office. 

Any request for J-1 Exchange Visitor status needs to be certified by the Department Head. The Head will receive an email asking to review the request. The DS-2019 will not be processed until the certification is received.

Select the method of mailing for the DS-2019.

  • Departments who wish to express mail the DS-2019 should use EshipGlobal to make an express mail reservation.  
    • To use EshipGlobal, you'll need the visitor's UCID and a credit card. 
    • UC International will be notified when a reservation is created. 
  • The department can also choose to pick up the documents and ship independently.

While in the US

Like international students, J-1 visitors are expected to know the rules and regulations required to maintain their visa status in the US.

Exchange visitors in the Research Scholar or Professor categories who complete a program, regardless of the length, are prohibited from returning to the US as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar for 24 months.

J-1 exchange visitors in the US for more than 6 months in a category other than Professor or Research scholar are prohibited from returning to the US as a Professor or Research Scholar for 12 months.

If an Exchange Visitor is transferring from another institution in the US 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. Exchange visitors sponsored by a government agency cannot transfer to UC.

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. 

Any Exchange Visitor wanting an extension of stay beyond the original appointment must do so prior to the expiration of the current DS-2019.

Make sure the Exchange Visitor has the amount of time you are requesting left.

  • 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. 

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.

  1. Submit the “J-1 Program Extension” eForm in iBearcatsGlobal. 
  2. Verify the current biographical and address information on file for the visitor, select a new program end date, and indicate if the Exchange Visitor will be traveling, etc. 
  3. Upload proof of continued funding and insurance (if the visitor is not covered by University benefits).
  4. The Exchange Visitor will be notified when the extension is processed. 
  5. If the Exchange Visitor is being paid by UC, then the I-9 will need to be revised, which may require an appointment with UC International.