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J-1 Research Scholars/Professors

JMU hosts international research scholars and professors who enter the U.S. on J-1, exchange visitor visas. In order to qualify as a JMU professor or research scholar on a J-1 visa, you must:

Eligibility Requirements

  • Have an agreement with JMU which details your duties and responsibilities and those of JMU;
  • Have the monetary funds available to you for the duration of your stay. You may be able to satisfy this requirement with JMU salary, your home institution's sponsorship, family funds or other sponsor;
  • Have the intention of returning to your home country after the completion of your program. The J-1 visa is a temporary visa, and when you visit the U.S. Consulate or Embassy to apply you will be asked about your intentions to return to your home country. Be aware that many J-1 visa holders are subject to a 2-year foreign residency requirement, as further explained in 2-Year Foreign Residency Requirements.
  • Be able to demonstrate a level of English language proficiency that will be sufficient for your program. 

Maintaining Legal Status

  • Conduct research and/or teach only at JMU, unless you have received advance approval from your department and from International Student and Scholar Services for research or lectures at a different institution;
  • Maintain a valid passport all times;
  • Maintain health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay for both you and your family members (if applicable).
  • Apply for extension of stay before the expiration of your present DS-2019 if your offer of employment or research has been extended;
  • Report a change of address to International Student and Scholar Services within 10 days of any move. 

2-year Foreign Residency Requirements

Some J-1 visitors are subject to a two year foreign residency requirement following their stay in the J-1 status.  If you are subject to this rule, you will be required to return home for two years prior to re-entering the U.S or changing your status to an H, L or  K visa, or obtaining permanent residence.  The rule will apply to you if you are in a program in one of these categories:

  • Government Funded Program:  If you are financed in whole or in part by a national government (including either the U.S. government or your own government.)
  • Graduate medical Education or Training: If you entered the U.S. to receive graduate medical training
  • Specialized Knowledge or Skill: If your field of specialty is considered necessary to the development of your own country, as shown on the Exchange Visitor Skills List, you will be subject to the two-year rule.  Please visit the Exchange Visitors Skills List to learn more.

Waiver of Foreign Residency Requirement

If you are subject to the foreign residency requirement, you may qualify for a waiver to allow your approval under an H, L, or K visa and/or permanent residence application.  However, waivers are at the discretion of the U.S. government (and sometimes also require approval from the home government) so they are in no way guaranteed and permanent plans should not be finalized before a waiver is granted.  For information about waivers, eligibility and process, see Waiver of the J Visa Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement 212(e).

Employment while on J-1

  • A J-1 visa holder is permitted employment only pursuant to the exchange program agreement under which s/he entered the United States, and at the location(s) noted on the DS-2019. A J-1 scholar/professor should refer to the written agreement with JMU to determine eligibility for employment. A copy of this agreement will be required by International Student and Scholar Services prior to the issuance of a DS-2019 and prior to the approval of employment documents at JMU.
  • In general, a J-1 Scholar or Professor may be employed only by the sponsoring institution. However, if the sponsoring institution gives prior permission, the Scholar or Professor may participate in occasional lectures or short-term consultations at a different institution. This additional employment must be incidental to the main purpose of the stay and must not cause a necessity for an extension of the DS-2019.
  • If you have been offered an occasional lecture or consultation with another institution, you must bring a letter of permission from your department to International Student and Scholar Services. A letter from that office will be written to the offering institution verifying your eligibility to accept payment for the lecture or consultation.

Travel and Visa Information

Numerous steps must be taken prior to traveling, either before entering JMU for the first time, or while you travel over breaks from school. The information contained in this section will explain the most common steps applicable to scholars. Please contact ISSS if you have any questions regarding any of these steps, or any other travel issues.

Applying for a Visa

There are several very important steps in the application of a nonimmigrant visa. Remember to follow each step carefully and be calm and professional in your approach to U.S. officials, and you will find your chance of success will increase. The first thing you will need to do is to pay your SEVIS fee and receive a receipt for that payment. In order to secure your nonimmigrant visa, you must visit the U.S. Consulate or Embassy nearest your home town in your country of residence. Refer yourself to the list of all U.S. Consulates and Embassies in your country. The U.S. Consulate or Embassy in every country has different requirements for visa applications. Some require appointments, and some take only walk-in applications. Some will require a background check and fingerprinting, which can take several months. It is important that you contact the Consulate or Embassy as soon as possible to make arrangements for your appointment.

When you do have your appointment for a J-1 visa application, you should take the following documents:

  • A valid passport;
  • A SEVIS-generated DS-2019 issued by JMU;
  • A receipt from DHS indicating your payment of the SEVIS fee;
  • Proof of your financial ability to pay for your stay. This can be a bank statement with personal or family funds, or documentation from a sponsoring department. The Consulate will want to see proof that you will be supported throughout your entire U.S. stay;
  • Proof of your ties to your home community. This could be information about the family you are leaving behind, the job opportunities available to you upon your return, property which you own, et

Travel out of country while in J-1 Status

While you are in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, you are free to travel back and forth, provided you have remained in status throughout your stay. Just remember that you must ALWAYS have your DS-2019 signed by an ISSS staff member before you travel, and you will also need a valid, unexpired visa to reenter the U.S. (unless you are traveling to Canada, Mexico or contiguous islands for less than 30 days, in which case this requirement is waived.) Also keep in mind that you may need visas to enter the country where you are planning to travel if it is not your home country.