UHCL is a temporary home-away-from-home for many foreign nationals, who are only in the U.S. on a short-term basis. The J-1 visa category offers these students and scholars the opportunity to participate in an educational and cultural exchange. UHCL sponsors Students, Short-Term Scholars, Specialists, and Visiting Researchers and Professors.
Overview of the J-1 Visa Category
The J-1 was created to promote academic, cultural, and scientific exchange between the visitor and the host country. J-1 exchange visitor visa status is available to scholars to engage in educational and cultural programs in the United States and return to their home countries to share their experiences, as well as encouraging their colleagues in the United States to participate in educational and cultural programs abroad. UHCL may host visitors as students, researchers, professors, short-term scholars, interns, and specialists (pending approval from UH Main). These programs can be valid for multi-week to multi-year periods, but regardless of the duration of the program, scholars must focus on the specific goals of the program for the duration of their stay in J-1 statuses. Their dependents (i.e., a legally married spouse or child under the age of 21) come with a J-2 visa. International scholars who come to UHCL to do research or to teach usually come as Exchange Visitors with a J-1 visa.
J-1 Scholar Categories
This category is intended for individuals who are coming to UHCL for more than 6 months to conduct research or teach. The maximum duration of this category is 5 years. Upon completion of the program, the Exchange Visitor will be subject to the 24-Month Bar on Repeat Participation as a J-1 Research Scholar / Professor.
This category is intended for individuals who are coming to UHCL for less than 6 months to conduct research or teach. The maximum duration of this category is 6 months, and it cannot be extended beyond that time.
Intended for individuals studying in the United States and pursuing a full course of study at a secondary accredited academic institution; pursuing a full course of study leading to or culminating in the award of a U.S. degree from UHCL; or engaged full-time in a prescribed course of study of up to 24 months (non-degree).
This nonimmigrant category is available only to full-time, enrolled students working toward a degree or engaged full-time in a non-degree prescribed course of study at UHCL. The maximum duration of this category is 24 months. If the program is longer than 6 months, upon completion, the Exchange Visitor will be subject to the 12-Month Bar on Repeat Participation as a J-1 Research Scholar / Professor.
This category is intended for individuals who can demonstrate highly specialized skills. The maximum duration of this category is 12 months. If the program is longer than 6 months, upon completion, the Exchange Visitor will be subject to the 12-Month Bar on Repeat Participation as a J-1 Research Scholar / Professor.
Employment for Exchange Visitors
An individual is eligible to participate in the J-1 college and university student category only "if at any time during his or her educational program in the United States" he or she meets at least one of the following five criteria:
- U.S. or home government financing; or
- U.S. and foreign government agreement; or
- A written agreement/MOU between UHCL and the foreign institution
- Substantial funding from a source other than personal or family;
- Student Intern
Health Insurance Requirement
All exchange visitors (both J-1 principals and J-2 dependents) are required to have sickness and accident insurance and medical evacuation and repatriation insurance in effect for the duration of their exchange visitor program. A willful failure to carry insurance is considered a violation of the Exchange Visitor Program regulations. Information on the required insurance may be found at NAFSA.org.
Housing, Transportation, and Meals
Ensure the invitation letter outlines housing arrangements for the J-1 visitor. It should include the location, costs (if any), and the type of transportation the scholar will use during their stay. Global Learning and Strategy- Education Abroad and Scholar Services cannot make arrangements for housing and transportation. You may wish to locate temporary lodging from a few days to a week while you are arranging permanent accommodation for a more extended stay.
English Language Proficiency
The exchange visitor possesses sufficient proficiency in the English language, as determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency, successfully to participate in his or her program and to function on a day-to-day basis. The hosting college must verify an applicant's English language proficiency through a recognized English language test, by signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school, or through a documented interview conducted by the sponsor either in-person or by videoconferencing, or by telephone if videoconferencing is not a viable option.
12-Month and 24-Month Repeat Participation Bars
There are two Repeat Participation restrictions for the Research Scholar and Professor categories:
- Any program in either the Research Scholar or Professor category, regardless of duration, will prevent the Exchange Visitor from returning with a new J-1 in these categories for 24 months.
- Any program longer than 6 months in any other J-1 category will prevent the Exchange Visitor from returning with a new J-1 in a Research Scholar or Professor category for 12 months.
The 12-month and 24-month repeat participation bars are separate from the 212(e) 2-year home-country physical presence requirement. A J-1 Exchange Visitor can be subject to both requirements.
Some J-1 Exchange Visitors are required to return to their home country for 2 years at the end of their program before they are eligible to apply for specific types of work visas or permanent residency in the U.S.
College Instructions - Obtaining a DS-2019 Form for a J-1 Exchange Visitor
Applying for a J-1 visa requires obtaining a DS-2019 form issued by Education Abroad and Scholar Services to the visitor. Please submit the below to EASS at least 90 days before the requested program start date to allow time for EASS and visa processing.
Checklist of Required Documents for DS-2019
- Copy of the passport identification page
- Completed DS-2019 Request Form (completed by scholar and college)
- Completed DS-2019 Request Form for Scholars, Part III, including the English Language Proficiency Determination Form (completed by UHCL academic department)
- Proof of financial support. Funding for Exchange Visitors also may not be provided solely by personal or family funds. Institutional, governmental, business, or agency funding must cover at least 50% of the minimum required funding. Proof of funds must be on letterhead or stamped, signed, dated, and no older than six months. It also must be in English OR provided in its original form with a third party translation
- Invitation letter provided by Dean or Provost Office on letterhead to include UHCL funding (if applicable) housing, transportation, reimbursement, collaboration, research, etc.
Questions: EducationAbroad@uhcl.edu or 281-283-2740