J-1 Scholar Visa

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 primarily conduct research, observe, or consult in connection with a research project. The scholar may also teach or lecture.
  • J-1 professors primarily teach, lecture, observe, or consult. The professor may also conduct research.
  • J-1 short term scholars 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 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

Visa Application

If you are not currently in the United States, you need to apply for and receive your J-1 visa before you can begin your program at the University of Cincinnati.

If you have questions, contact us and we will help you.

As a scholar, your host department will make a request for your exchange using UC International's online system, iBearcatsGlobal. You will need to provide information about your English proficiency, financial support, health insurance and dependents to receive the DS-2019 for your visa appointment.

You must notify UC International Services of any accompanying dependents in J-2 status and provide biographical information (e.g., full name, address, country of birth, etc.) and immigration information (e.g., passport information, visa information, etc.) regarding those dependents using the UC International Services Add a New Dependent eForm found at iBearcatsGlobal. You are not permitted to bring dependents to the United States in J-2 classification if adequate funding for their support and health insurance coverage is not available. Each dependent will then receive his/her own DS-2019 to apply for the appropriate visa.

Any request for a J-1 research scholar/professor must include documented proficiency in English.

Prospective research scholars/professors can provide a recognized English language test score from any of the listed criteria below. Options include:

  • TOEFL score of 66 or higher
  • IELTS overall band score of 6.0 or higher
  • PEARSON score of 46 or higher
  • Duolingo score of 95 or higher
  • Cambridge English Language Assessment Test grade C or higher
  • Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) score of 780 or higher
  • Public English Test System (PETS) - grade 5 score
  • Completion of Advanced English Training Program from the China Ministry of Education (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, prospective scholars can take the Oral English Proficiency Test for Visiting Scholars online through the Center for English as a Second Language.

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.

You must demonstrate adequate financial support in order to issue a DS-2019.

  • You must have at least $2,000 in monthly support ($24,000 per year). 
  • If you wish to bring family to the US, you must show an additional $6,000 (per year) for a spouse and $3,000 (per year) for each child.

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

  • 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
  • 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 meets this requirement.

All J-1 Exchange Visitors must submit proof of health and accident insurance coverage not only for the Exchange Visitor, but for all accompanying family members. Health insurance requirements for Exchange Visitors and their dependents is strictly detailed by the Department of State. You must maintain the appropriate health insurance coverage for the duration of your program.

For those who will not receive UC benefits that meet the regulations, or will waive UC benefits, you can find qualified plans below under the section for Other Insurance Plans:

J-1 recipients who will receive UC medical benefits must understand how their UC insurance meets these requirements.

  • J-1 exchange visitors who qualify for UC Faculty (AAUP teaching positions such as Educators) benefits need to select the PPO option, not the HDHP option. 
    • The HDHP option does not meet Department of State J-1 insurance requirements. 
    • The PPO option does meet the regulations including providing the appropriate medical evacuation and repatriation of remains coverage and deductible.
  • UC Staff (postdocs, research assistants; etc.) or non-AAUP teaching positions (visiting assistant professors) benefits do not include medical evacuation or repatriation of remains and the deductible is in excess of Department of State regulations. 
    • J-1 exchange visitors who qualify for staff benefits can keep or drop their UC benefits, but will need to purchase an additional policy that meets J-1 regulations fully.
    • UC will reimburse affected J-1 exchange visitors $100 per month, including providing an additional $100 for each dependent, once you supply our office with proof of purchase of a qualifying policy. This should allow you to purchase an outside J-1 medical insurance plan that meets the regulations with minimal to no additional costs to you, while allowing you to keep or drop your UC benefits.

After your documentation has been submitted by your department, if approved, UC International will mail you a DS-2019. You will use this document to pay the SEVIS fee and set up your visa appointment.

Before you can apply for a visa, you must pay a SEVIS fee to the US Department of Homeland Security. Read all the instructions before paying the fee.

  • The SEVIS fee can be paid by credit card over the internet, by check, or by money order by mail.
  • If you are applying for F-1 status, the SEVIS fee is $350.
  • If you are applying for J-1 status, the SEVIS fee is $220.

The fee must be paid at least three business days prior to the scheduled date of your interview in order for the payment information to show up on the SEVIS system. Bring your I-901 receipt with you to your visa interview. A paper receipt can be used as verification in place of the internet verification.

In order to complete your SEVIS fee form, you will need your I-20 or DS-2019 and the University of Cincinnati's School Code. Our school codes are:

  • CLE214F10355000 for F-1 students with an I-20
  • P-1-00733 for J-1 students/scholars with a DS-2019

Once you have received your DS-2019 and paid the SEVIS fee, you can apply for your J visa. You can apply at any US consulate or embassy, but it may be more difficult outside of your country.

Appointments are mandatory for all visas, and some US embassies and consulates require appointments to be made at least four to eight weeks in advance. Apply for your visa well before the date you would like to depart for Cincinnati.

All J-1 exchange visitors and accompanying dependents must report to UC International upon arrival in Cincinnati.

  • All J-1 exchange visitors are required to attend an orientation conducted by UC International.
  • You will be informed of the orientation upon check-in with UC International.
  • Additionally, watch our online orientation before your check-in session.

Maintain Your Visa Status

To maintain your visa status:

  • Only engage in activities permitted under the J-1 program and category.
  • File timely and appropriate transfer and extension notifications.
  • Refrain from unauthorized employment.
  • Maintain required health insurance coverage.
  • Report changes of address.
  • Receive authorization for travel.
  • Adhere to your grace period at the end of your program (30 days).

In most cases, you can notify our office of any changes using eForms in iBearcatsGlobal.

Extend Your Stay

  • 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 you have the amount of time you are requesting left.

You and your sponsoring department must submit an extension request prior to the expiration of your 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.

After Your J-1 Program Ends

At the end of your J-1 program, you have a 30 day grace period to exit the United States. J visa holders are also subject to the home residency requirement and 12 / 24 month bars in participation, which means that you may be ineligible to apply for a new visa for some time.

Home Residency Requirement

As an exchange visitor, you may not be eligible to apply for or change to other visa statuses in the US until you have resided and been physically present in your country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for a minimum of two years following your departure from the United States.

These restrictions apply in any of the following cases:

  • When your participation was financed in whole or part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the US government or by the government of your home country.
  • You had skills necessary to your country under the Exchange Visitor Skills List when you applied for your J visa.
  • You acquired exchange visitor status in order to receive graduate medical education or training.

"Financed directly" means financed in whole or part by the United States Government or your home government with funds contributed directly to you in connection with an exchange visitor program.

"Financed indirectly" means:

  • financed by an international organization with funds contributed by either the United States or your home government for use in financing international educational and cultural exchange, or
  • financed by an organization or institution with funds made available by either the United States or your home government for the purpose of furthering international educational and cultural exchange.

Exchange visitors who are subject to the home residency requirement may apply for a waiver under any one of the five applicable grounds:

  1. "No Objection" statement from the home government
    The exchange visitor’s government must state that it has no objection to the exchange visitor not returning to the home country to satisfy the two-year foreign residence requirement and remaining in the US if he or she chooses to do so.
  2. Request by an interested (US) Government Agency
    If an exchange visitor is working on a project for, or of interest to, a US Federal Government Agency, and that agency has determined that the visitor’s continued stay in the United States is vital to one of its programs, a waiver may be granted if the exchange visitor’s continued stay in the United States is in the public interest.
  3. Persecution
    If the exchange visitor believes that he or she will be persecuted upon return to the home country due to race, religion, or political opinion, he or she can apply for a waiver.
  4. Exceptional hardship to a United States citizen (or permanent resident) spouse or child of an exchange visitor
    If the exchange visitor can demonstrate that his or her departure from the United States would cause extreme hardship to his or her United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child, he or she may apply for a waiver. (Mere separation from family is not considered exceptional hardship.)
  5. Request by a designated State Department of Health or its equivalent
    The law permits only medical doctors to apply for a waiver on this basis. Foreign medical graduates may apply for a waiver if they 
    1. have an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in a designated health care professional shortage area, and 
    2. agree to begin employment at the facility within 90 days of receiving such waiver, and
    3. sign a contract to continue to work at the health care facility for a total of 40 hours per week and not less than three years. 

12 and 24 Month Bars

The 12 and 24 month bars are different from the two-year home country residence requirement. The 12 and 24 month rule affects J-1 exchange visitors who have been in the US on a J-1 visa previously, and wish to return using the J-1 visa.

Depending on what your previous J category was, you may be subject to a 12 month bar, a 24 month bar or have no bar at all.

It is possible that a J-1 visitor has no wait time related to the 12 and 24 month bars, but is subject to the two year home residency requirement. If you have never before had J-1 visa sponsorship, then the bars do not apply to you.

Wait time for a J-1 Research Scholar / Professor visa based on previous visa category, with previous stay less than 6 months.
Previous J visa category Wait time for new J-1 research scholar / professor visa
J-1 student (non-degree) No wait
J-1 student No wait
J-1 research scholar / professor for any amount of time (one day to five years) 24 months
J-1 short-term scholar No wait
J-1 specialist No wait
Wait time for a new J-1 research scholar / professor visa by previous J visa category, with a previous stay more than 6 months.
Previous J visa category Wait time for a new J-1 research scholar / professor visa
J-1 student (non-degree) 12 months
J-1 student 12 months
J-1 specialist 12 months
J-1 research scholar / professor for any amount of time (one day to five years) 24 months
J-2 dependent of research scholar / professor 24 months
J-2 dependent of any J-1 category except short-term scholar 12 months