Your J-1 Visa
The Exchange Visitor (J) non-immigrant visa category is for individuals approved to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs. The general purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to promote international educational and cultural exchange to develop mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries.
At the University of Cincinnati, there are three types of J-1 exchange visitors: students, scholars, and professors. An exchange visitor must not 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.
For information on obtaining a U.S. visa, please refer to the Visa Application & Expiration page.
Pay your SEVIS Fee
Prior to applying for your visa you must pay a $180 SEVIS fee (if J-1) to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The SEVIS fee can be paid by credit card over the internet, by check, or by money order by mail. Please read all instructions fully before attempting to pay the fee. If your visa is denied, you do not need to pay the fee again if you re-apply for the same visa within 12 months of the denial.
Scholars from Canada and Bermuda do not have to apply for a visa. You will show SEVIS fee payment verification along with your I-20 or DS-2019 to an immigration inspector at the port of entry.
In order to complete form I-901, you must have a Form DS-2019 and the University of Cincinnati's School Code. Our school codes are:
- P-1-00733 for J-1 Students & Scholars (DS-2019)
Payment of the SEVIS fee is not limited to you. DHS will allow someone else to pay the SEVIS fee for you. 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. You should bring your I-901 receipt with you to your visa interview. The paper receipt can be used as verification in place of the internet verification.
You can pay your SEVIS fee at fmjfee.com.
If You Have Eligible Dependents
Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 who accompany or follow you to the United States are usually admitted in J-2 classification, but are not exchange visitors. 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.
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. Each dependent will then receive his/her own DS-2019 to apply for the appropriate visa.
Great Scholars for Visiting Faculty/Researchers
Great Scholars is a free resource offered as part of Ohio-G.R.E.A.T., an Ohio Department of Higher Education initiative (https://ohio-great.us).
Great Scholars collects profiles of visiting scholar candidates for review and placement. If you receive a request from a scholar with whom you are unfamiliar, you may choose to direct them to submit a completed profile for university review. There are three ways you can direct them to register:
- Have the scholar invited into the system by a designated “inviter”*
- Forward the scholar’s inquiry e-mail to email@example.com, who will invite them
- Direct the scholar to register on their own at Great Scholars
To designate an inviter within a department, or to find out more information about this program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you select a scholar to come to UC submit the J-1 Scholar Application in our iBearcatsGlobal system.
Any request for a J-1 research scholar/professor must include documented proficiency in English. Visiting scholars/professors are required to demonstrate English proficiency at a level that the exchange visitor can
- perform their duties,
- navigate daily life in the U.S.,
- and fully understand their responsibilities, rights and protections.
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
- 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.
Home Residency Requirement
The two-year home country residence requirement is one of the most important special characteristics of exchange visitor status and should be thoroughly understood by all J-1 participants. As an exchange visitor, you may not be eligible to obtain permanent resident, H temporary worker or trainee, or L intra-company transferee status in the U.S. 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. You are also not permitted to change to another nonimmigrant status in the United States.
These restrictions apply in any of the following cases:
- When your participation in your U.S. program was financed in whole or part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the U.S. government or by the government of your home country.
- When, at the time of admission or acquisition of exchange visitor status, you had skills or knowledge that the U.S. Department of State deemed necessary to your country under the Exchange Visitor Skills List.
- You came to the United States or 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 Visitor Skills List
You are subject to the two-year home country residence requirement if your knowledge and skills are determined necessary to your country. The official list of fields by country is available on the Exchange Visitor Skills List. You are subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement only if participation in an exchange program began after your field of study appeared on the skills list.
Waiving the Home Residency Requirement
Exchange visitors who are subject to, but do not wish to comply with the home residency requirement may apply for a waiver under any one of the five applicable grounds provided by the United States immigration law. These applicable ground include the following:
- "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 U.S. if he or she chooses to do so.
- Request by an interested (U.S.) Government Agency
If an exchange visitor is working on a project for, or of interest to, a U.S. 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.
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.
- 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. (Please note that mere separation from family is not considered to be sufficient to establish exceptional hardship.)
- 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
- have an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in a designated health care professional shortage area, and
- agree to begin employment at the facility within 90 days of receiving such waiver, and
- 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.
Filling out Waiver Application
- Complete the Online J Visa Waiver Recommendation Application, Form DS-3035. No other version (download or paper) of the DS-3035 will be accepted.
- Upon completing the Form DS-3035 online, your information will be downloaded into a barcode and you will be issued immediately a waiver case file number and further instructions.
- Once you have completed this online form, print the form in black and white only.
- Mail in your DS-3035 Application with barcode and payment as explained below.
Payment & Mailing
- Your payment must be made using a cashier's check or money order.
- The payment must be in U.S. dollars from a U.S. bank.
- The cost for the application is $215, made payable to the U.S. Department of State.
- On the check or money order, please write your full name, date of birth, and Social Security Number (if applicable).
You will mail the print-out of your completed online DS-3035, two self-addressed stamped legal-size envelopes and your check or money order for $215 to
Your application must be sent to the lock-box address at the Waiver Review Division. If you fax or mail your application to the Waiver Review Division, it will NOT be processed.
Sending Documents & Checking Status
It is your responsibility to submit all requested documents and ensure that required documents are sent on your behalf by third parties. The Waiver Review Division will not follow up on documents that have not been received. It is your responsibility to ensure that your file is complete.
Once you have your waiver case number, check on the status of your application by visiting the J Visa Waiver Status Check website. If you notice an error, contact Public Inquiries at (202) 663-1225.
Some documents, such as
- "No Objection" statement from EV's home government,
- "Interested Government Agency" request,
- Conrad request letter from a state public health department, or
- CIS' finding of exceptional hardship or persecution (on Form I-613)
will be submitted directly to the Waiver Review Division by the responsible third party.
However, you, the waiver applicant, must initiate the process by requesting such documents directly from the responsible third party or by applying directly with these other agencies. And, if the third party agrees, your other required documents, such as your DS-2019 or IAP-66, may be forwarded to the Waiver Review Division through the third party.
At the conclusion of the review process, the Waiver Review Division will forward its recommendation directly to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security. You will receive a copy of that recommendation at the address you listed on your Form DS-3035, or the most current address we have if you reported a change of address.
Any time you change your address, please notify the waiver review division of that change. If we do not have your most current address, we may not be able to contact you for additional information, or you may not receive the results of your waiver request.
Please do not fax or contact the Waiver Review Division directly regarding your waiver case. The Division does not have the manpower to respond to such inquiries. You should contact the Public Inquires Division at (202) 663-1225.
USCIS has the responsibility for making the final determination on your waiver request. USCIS will notify you directly whether your waiver application is denied or approved.
Short-Term Scholar Housing
UC International Services controls two fully furnished apartments for the use of short-term scholars. The apartments are located at 222 Senator Place, Cincinnati, OH, 45220. The cost of the apartment per person is $300 per week ($1200 for the month). Daily rates are not available. You will be required to pay UC International monthly/weekly based on your length of stay. Apartments are one bedroom. Photos of the property are above.
There is NO SMOKING in the apartment or on any UC-operated properties. It is your responsibility to keep the apartment clean. This includes regularly washing the dishes and linens and keeping the property looking presentable.
The UC shuttle will take you to and from campus free of charge. The shuttle schedule is available at uc.doublemap.com. You will use the North route. There are also shuttles that can take you to the grocery store, downtown Cincinnati, etc. Please review the shuttle website or our transportation information for full details.
If you are interested in renting a room in one of the apartments, please click the button below and complete the Visiting Scholar Housing Reservation. Apartments/beds will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis. Our staff will contact you to accept your reservation.
Please do not submit a request to reserve housing unless your visa has been approved and you are 100% certain you are coming to Cincinnati. You will be required to scan and upload a copy of your passport/visa as part of the request process.
J-1 Online Orientation
All J-1 Exchange Vsitors are required to watch the following online orientation either before arrival or immediately after entering the U.S. This orientation will provide you with the following information:
- an overview of the regulations you must follow as a J-1 exchange visitor,
- an explanation on submitting requests to UC International Services for immigration benefits, and
- a description of resources available to you during your stay.