The J-1 Visa Program

Introduction to the J-1 Visa Program

The purpose of the J-1 visa program is “to provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the United States and return home to share their experiences, and to encourage Americans to participate in educational and cultural programs in other countries.” (22 CFR 514.1(b)).

Participants in such programs enter the US as Exchange Visitors (EV) on a J visa. A J DS-2019 form, “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status” is required: 1) to obtain a J-1 visa at a US Consulate abroad, 2) to extend the stay in the US, 3) to transfer from another institution to Dowling or 4) to change visa status from another non-immigrant visa, such as B-1 or F-1, to the J status. The US Department of State monitors the Exchange Visitor Program; compliance with the regulations and purpose of the program rests with Dowling’s International Student Support Office (ISSO). This is the US visa program which permits exchange students, short-term visitors to the college, visiting professors, and visiting scholars/researchers to come and exchange experience and knowledge with other members of the Dowling College community.

Exchange Visitor Categories


Dowling can request that USCIS issue a J-1 visa for the following four categories of exchange visitor (EV). Except for the Student category, the minimum educational level required for all other categories is master’s degree or bachelor’s degree with substantial experience in your specialty field.


Category Primary activity at Dowling Permitted Length of Stay
Student (EXCHANGE) An individual pursuing studies which are leading to a degree or certificate, on full time basis; must be on exchange from a foreign university, or primarily funded from sources other than personal or family funds. Duration of studies plus a period of authorized employment known as Academic Training.
Professor An individual whose primary activity is teaching, lecturing, observing or consulting on non-tenure track appointments. Participation in Departmental research is allowed. Maximum 3 years. Includes time spent at another institution on J-1 status. Extensions beyond 3 years require special handling and may be difficult to obtain.
Researcher An individual whose primary activity is conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project.
Short-Term Scholar A professor, researcher, or person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the US on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills. This category includes speakers at conferences. Maximum 6 months. No extension of stay allowed beyond 6 months.


RESTRICTION ON J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category: If the visitor had completed a previous J program which lasted for more than 6 months, there must be a 12-month gap between the end date of the previous J program and the starting date of the new program before he/she can be eligible to enter the US to start the new program.

Exchange Students’ and Visitors’ Funding
The source of the EV’s funds must be indicated on the DS-2019 form. Please determine the appropriate source.

US Government Agency: You will be paid directly by one or more agencies. Be sure to identify each one.

International Organization: You will receive direct funds from organizations such as the UN, UNICEF, etc.

Home Government: You will be funded by an agency of your country’s government.

Binational Commission: You will receive monies from the Fulbright Commission.

Other Organizations: You will be paid by a private organization, university or foundation in the US or abroad. You must indicate which organization

Personal Funds: You will use personal/family funds, sabbatical salaries, etc. Attach original documents, bank statements, etc.


J-1 Health Insurance Requirements

Medical care in the United States is expensive, and it is NOT provided by any branch of the local or federal government. For J-1 Exchange students, Visitors and their dependents, health insurance is required by federal regulations published by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in the US State Department.
The US State Department Insurance Requirements for Exchange Visitors [22 CFR 62.14] are listed on the US State Department website: (  Dowling College requires all international students to accept the College’s health insurance policy. The cost of this policy (currently about $986 per calendar year) will be added directly onto the student’s charges with the college. The College’s student insurance plan meets State Department requirements.


Two-Year Home Country Residence Requirements:
The Immigration and Nationality Act has placed conditions on certain J-1 visa holders. One of these is the “two-year home country residence requirement” (Section 212(e)). Participants “subject” to this requirement are ineligible to change visa status from J to H, L or permanent resident status unless they reside for two years in their country of last legal permanent residence or nationality, or receive a waiver from the US State Department. If you hold J-1 status in the US, you will be subject to this requirement IF

  1. You receive partial or full financial support from your home government, the government of the US, or an international agency, OR
  2. You study in a field that is listed under your home country on the Exchange Visitor Skills List published by the State Department at,

The USCIS, acting on behalf of the US State Department, determines the applicability of this requirement to a participant’s program. If this is the case, under certain circumstances you may apply for a waiver of the home country residence requirement.


Exchange Student J-1 visa Eligibility

To be eligible for J-1 student status, you must meet one of two criteria established by US government regulation. You will be eligible if:

  1. You are a participant in an exchange program formally established by a written agreement between governments, or between Dowling College and a foreign government or College or University; or
  2. You begin your program with funding that comes “substantially” from “any source other than personal or family funds,” in the words of the regulation. The College interprets “substantially” to mean more than half of your tuition.

If you are an Exchange Student (ES), the J-1 visa will allow you to remain in the US for as long as your academic program requires, provided that you maintain full-time registration and make continual progress in that program. In addition, you must apply for extensions before the date of expected completion shown on your visa eligibility document.


Employment Eligibility of Exchange Visitors and Their Dependents

Exchange visitors and students are authorized to receive funds from the organization(s) listed on the DS-2019 form. EVs wishing to receive funds from other sources, once in the United States, require special authorization. ISSO may authorize employment for an exchange student or visitor if:

1. it is directly related to the program’s objective

2. it is incidental to primary program activities

3. it will not delay completion of the program

Please remember ­– The Dowling College International Student Services Office is here to assist you with your transition to the United States, with your relations with US immigration, and in many other ways. Please maintain a close relationship with this office.