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  • Your J-1 lawful status is the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) designation and authorization of your stay in the U.S. as a non-immigrant professor or scholar.

    • This status is granted at your port of entry by a USCIS officer who reviews your visa and other documents, and upon your admittance, writes your immigration status and the length of time you may remain in the U.S. on your Form I-94 and Form DS-2019 (shown above).
    • Your permission to stay in the U.S. is based upon that status. You will probably have “D/S” as the length of stay; it means “duration of status” until the program completion date noted on your Form DS-2019—providing you continue to maintain the requirements of your status.
    • In most instances, your visa category and immigration status will be the same, J-1, unless you change your lawful status after entering the U.S. For example, you may change from J-1 status to J-2 status as a dependent of an J-1.
    • Since you are responsible to learn and observe the requirements to maintain your status, we encourage you to carefully review all of the related materials on this site. If you are unsure of any of the requirements, please consult with International Services’ staff.

    Immigration matters are the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

  • The Exchange Visitor Program (J-visa types) provides opportunities for international candidates looking to travel and gain experience in the United States. The multifaceted programs enable foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to teach, study, conduct research, demonstrate special skills or receive on the job training for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years.

    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 United States and other countries. As a non-immigrant visa type, all exchange visitors are expected to return to their home country upon completion of their program in order to share their exchange experiences.>

    Prospective EVs must meet the following eligibility requirements:

    • Educational and professional qualifications to meet their program objective
    • English-language proficiency as determined through a recognized English language test (English3, TOEFL, IELTS, CAE)
    • Documented individual financial resources of at least $2,000 per month and dependent resources of $2,500 per year per dependent
    • Personal commitment to abide by the Church Education System Honor Code

    Only BYU departments are authorized to request a J-1 visa document (DS-2019) from International Student and Scholar Services. BYU does not accept DS-2019 requests directly from prospective EV applicants.

    The following J-1 visa categories are available at BYU:

    • Student Non-Degree Seeking:

      • Foreign student pursuing a degree at a postsecondary academic institution outside the United States and
      • who is coming to BYU for up to 24 months as a non-matriculated student earning credit for their home-university program
    • Student Degree Seeking: Foreign, admitted student coming to earn a degree at BYU
    • Student Intern:

      • Foreign student pursuing a degree at a postsecondary academic institution outside the United States and
      • whose internship at BYU–which can last up to one year–will fulfill educational objectives for their home-degree program
    • Short-Term Scholar: Credentialed professor, research scholar, specialist or person with similar education or accomplishments coming to BYU on a short-term visit of up to six months to

      • lecture,
      • observe,
      • consult,
      • train or
      • demonstrate special research skills
    • Specialist: Expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill coming to BYU for up to 12 months to

      • observe,
      • consult or
      • demonstrate special skills
    • Professor: Credentialed professor coming to BYU for up to five years primarily to

      • teach,
      • lecture,
      • observe or
      • consult
    • Research Scholar: Credentialed scholar involved in a BYU research project for up to five years primarily to

      • conduct research,
      • observe or
      • consult

    Health Insurance

    U.S. Government regulations require J-1 and J-2 visa holders to have health insurance during their entire stay in the United States. Please refer to the Insurance section of this web site for more information on health insurance policies that fulfill these requirements. During a scholar's time at BYU, their obligation to maintain the required health insurance coverage will be acknowledged and confirmed.

    Two-year Residency Requirement

    • In some cases, the J-1 visa carries a "two-year home country residence requirement" which requires J visa holders to return to their home countries for two years before being eligible for certain non-immigrant visas and all immigrant visas. This restriction applies to those financially supported by the U.S. government (e.g. Fulbright grantees) or by their own governments (including travel grants) during any part of their stay in the United States in J visa status. In addition, the two-year home country residence requirement is imposed on those whose skills are needed in their home countries, as registered in the Exchange Visitor Skills List.
    • Under certain circumstances, it is possible to obtain a waiver of the two-year home country residence requirement. EVs should check with International Student Services for further information.

    Government Exchange Visitor Information

    Further information can be requested through e-mail at intloff@byu.edu or by phone at 801-422-2695.

  • There are many details to know and understand about your program. The information below will assist you in being informed and in making appropriate decisions concerning your program.

    • Program Length: How long you can stay at BYU

      • Student: Until you complete your studies
      • Short-Term Scholar: Six months maximum
      • Specialist: One year maximum
      • Researcher or professor: 60 months maximum
    • Extension of Program

      • Based upon your classification, if it is necessary for you to extend and you are eligible for an extension beyond that listed on item #3 of your Form DS-2019, you may request an extension by completing the following steps:

        1. At least 30 days before your program ending date (see item #3 on Form DS-2019), have your department complete a Request for Renewal of Extension of Form DS-2019.
        2. You must sign the request.
        3. If you are being funded and insured by a third party, proof of continued support for the duration of the extension must be documented and attached.
        4. Your department will submit the completed form to International Services for the issuance of an updated Form DS-2019.
        5. The new DS-2019 will be returned to your department to give to you.
    • Transfer of Program Sponsors

      • You may transfer from one program sponsor to another if the purpose of the transfer is to complete the objective for which you were admitted to exchange-visitor status, and if you remain within the same category.
      • Procedure

        1. Obtain a new DS-2019 from the new sponsor.
        2. Take the new DS-2019 to the Responsible Officer of the current sponsor and have him/her sign Part #8 of the DS-2019. (If the current sponsor agrees that the transfer is for the purpose of completing the original objective and is consistent with the goals of the exchange-visitor program, he/she will sign the form, thus releasing sponsorship.)
        3. Submit the new DS-2019 (with the signature releasing sponsorship) to International Services.
    • Leaving the United States Between Sponsors

      • If you are leaving the United States temporarily between sponsors, it is not necessary to obtain the endorsement of the previous sponsor. Instead, you simply use the new Form DS-2019 to reenter the United States. If your visa has expired, you will need to obtain a new one to reenter the States.

    Click here to learn more about the Exchange Visitor program.

  • Before arriving on campus you should carefully read and understand the following information:

    • General Information Applying to Everyone
      • Department/Sponsor Consultations

        • It is vitally important that you understand your specific duties, length of time, and any compensation or reimbursement associated with your activities.
        • Consult with your department until that information is clear and agreeable.
      • Passport

        • As an exchange visitor, you are required to have a valid passport to enter the United States and at all times while you are here.
      • Church Educational System Honor Code Observance

    • Specific Information Based Upon Your Length of Time on Campus

      • If you are going to be on campus for nine days or less

        • Visa—Your department will send you a letter of invitation which you must present to the U.S. Consulate officer in order to obtain a B-1 visa. Canadians also do not need a visa to enter the U.S. Additionally, if you are from a Visa Waiver Program country and are going to be in the U.S. less than 90 days, you do not need a visa.
        • Port of Entry in the U.S.—Your department letter must also be presented to an immigration officer at the port of entry where you will be issued a Form I-94 (departure record and permission to be in the country) specifying "B-1" immigration status. If you are Canadian, you do not need B-1 status on your Form I-94 if you declare that you are entering the U.S. on business. If you are from a Visa Waiver Program country, present your letter and valid passport at the port of entry and request a WB Form I-94. In order to qualify for a WB Form I-94, you must be in possession of a valid passport and a round-trip, nontransferable transportation ticket. The visa waiver program allows business or tourist activity for a maximum of 90 days; it is not possible to extend or change your status. more
      • If you are going to be on campus for more than nine days

        • Form DS-2019—You must have a Form DS-2019 in your possession to enter the country as an exchange visitor. This U.S. government form will indicate the nature of your activities at BYU and will specify your program length.

          • Scholars, Specialists, Professors and Researchers—As you consult with your department in preparation to coming to campus, a representative will submit to International Services a Request For Issuance of Form DS-2019.
        • Health Insurance Requirement

          • You are required to have medical insurance in effect for yourself and any dependents in J-visa status for the duration of your program. Some sponsors provide the required insurance for their participants. Other sponsors may allow you to make your own arrangements or may help to identify insurance carriers. Consult with your responsible officer before the start of your program. more
        • J-1 Visa—Unless you are Canadian, you will need a J-1 visa to enter the U.S.as an exchange visitor.

          • Application Procedure
            • You should apply for your visa at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy which has jurisdiction over your place of residence.
            • The consular office may require the following:
              • A valid passport and a properly executed Form DS-2019 from Brigham Young University.
              • Documents to establish that you are a bona fide nonimmigrant Exchange Visitor.
              • Evidence that you have adequate financial support for your entire stay in the United States.
              • Evidence that you have a residence in your home country which you have no intention of abandoning.
              • The consular officer may require other documents or evidence to ensure that you meet all the requirements of an Exchange Visitor. Please cooperate fully with these requests.
            • If the consular officer approves your application for a J-1 visa, he/she will stamp the visa on the appropriate page of your passport and note the period of validity of the visa and the number of entries for which it is valid.
            • The officer will also note on the Form DS-2019 whether or not you are subject to the Two-year Home Residency Requirement.
            • The officer then will return your Form DS-2019 to you.
            • Current wait times
        • Bringing Dependents With You—You may request permission from your department to bring dependents with you who are under the age of 21.
          • Since they will need their own Form DS-2019s, you must provide your department with the names, ages, genders, and countries of residence for each.
          • A representative will submit to International Services a Request for Issuance of Form DS 20-19 for Dependants.
          • Your dependent spouse may work if the employment is not related to your financial support. J-2 dependents may also take classes. more
        • Upon Arrival at the United States Port of Entry—Before you will be admitted to the United States, you will required to present your passport, visa, and Form DS-2019 to the Immigration inspector.
          • When you are admitted, the Immigration inspector should stamp your Form DS-2019 in red and write "J-1" and "D/S" before returning it to you.
          • The inspector should also stamp your Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) in red and write "J-1" and "D/S" indicating the date and place of admission to the United States, your immigration classification, and your authorized length of stay. Keep these documents in a safe and accessible place during your stay in the United States.
          • more

    Click here to learn more.

  • In addition to the orientation which the department will provide, have your department representative assist you in meeting the following requirements:

    • International Student Services Check-in

      • Go with your passport, visa, Form I-94 (you will have to print it) and Form DS-2019 to International Student Services. International Student Services will provide critical information in an orientation which will include the following:
      • You must observe the following requirements to remain in status:

        1. Read and clearly understand page 2 of your Form DS-2019 as stipulated by your signature—It spells out your responsibilities.
        2. Maintain a valid passport—Federal regulations require that you maintain a valid passport at all times. International Services staff will assist upon request.
        3. Keep your passport, Form I-94, and Form DS-2019 in a safe place while here in Provo and keep these papers in your possession at all times when traveling outside of Provo.
        4. Notify International Services when changing your address—After you have provided International Services (IS) with your physical address of residence in the United States when you check in, you must notify IS with ten (10) days of any change in address. This is done by updating your address in Route Y. Address changes will be reported to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A change in mailing address does not require reporting.
        5. Maintain the required level of personal and J-2 dependants' health insurance—Obtain and maintain the required sickness and accident insurance and medical evacuation and repatriation insurance (which meet Department of State requirements) during the duration of time you are at BYU. A willful failure to carry insurance is considered to be a violation of the exchange visitor program regulations. more
        6. Complete your educational activities within the designated time—You are permitted to participate in your program only for the period of time specified on your Form DS-2019. You may consult with IS if you have questions.
          Grace period after program ends—You are granted a thirty (30) day grace period following the end of your program in which to prepare and to leave the United States. During this time you may travel and visit any part of the country, but you are not authorized for employment.
        7. Request extensions of permission to remain in this country if necessary and if you qualify. As you continue to remain in status, you are allowed to remain in the U.S. for the time designated on your Form I-94 (a small white card entitled Departure Record) in your passport. If the card has a D/S notation instead of an expiration date, then the stay expires when the DS-2019 expires.
        8. Limit employment to that which is specifically authorized—For most J-1 principal exchange visitor categories, you will be automatically authorized for employment on campus as a part of your program participation.
        9. Obtain permission to travel on temporary visits outside the United States—You and your dependents must have your Forms DS-2019s signed by an authorized officer in International Services authorizing the travel before you leave the United States.

          Travel is only permitted before your program ending date. To re-enter the United States, you must have a current signed Form DS-2019, a valid passport and a valid J-1 visa (unless your travel was to Canada or Mexico and only for less than 30 days).

        10. Consult with International Services staff regarding any significant change you wish to make in activities, such as a reduction of course load, change of major field, employment, travel outside the United States, or transfer to another school within the United States, etc.
    • Employment Procedures (work permit, Form I-9 and W-4 Form)

      • If you are being employed by BYU as a part of your Exchange Visitor Program (see item #4 on the Form DS-2019), International Services will issue you a non-student work permit. You must then go to the Faculty Personnel Office (D-353 ASB) for processing to satisfy Form I-9 requirements. Also you must go to the Payroll Office to complete a W-4 Form and possible tax treaty papers.

    Click here to learn more.

  • After completion of your program, you or your dependents may be required to return to your home country for two years.

    • The requirement's intent is to provide your home country the benefit of your training and acquired skills obtained in the United States.
    • The two-year home-residency requirement is usually noted on the visa page in your passport and on the bottom left hand corner of your DS-2019.
    • If you are subject to the requirement, you are not eligible for a change of status to an "H" (temporary worker), "L" (intra company transferee), or permanent residency (green card); however, you may change status to an "A" (home government diplomat) or "G" (representative to an international organization).
    • If you are unsure whether you are subject to this requirement, you should contact your J-1 Responsible Officer in our office or a reputable immigration attorney.
    • You are usually subject to this requirement if:
      1. You were funded by your home or the U.S. government in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of participating in an exchange
      2. You have or are acquiring needed skills that are in short supply in your home country, according to the United States government's Exchange Visitor Skill List. The list, which originally appeared in 1972, was last published in full in the Federal Register on June 12, 1984 (pages 24194-242), with brief revisions in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1993.
      3. You Are a Medical Specialist, having participated in a J-1 graduate medical education or training program, e.g., a residency, internship or fellowship sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates
      4. You are a J-2 dependent of an exchange visitor who is subject to the requirement
    1. NOTE OF CAUTION: This information summarizes some very complex and sensitive issues and is intended to be an outline of the requirement and not as a legal reference. Refer to our disclaimer.
  • You are required to have medical insurance in effect for yourself and any dependents in J-visa status for the duration of your program.

    • Some sponsors provide the required insurance for their participants.
    • Other sponsors may allow you to make your own arrangements or may help to identify insurance carriers.
    • Consult with your responsible officer before the start of your program.
    • Government regulations stipulate that if, after the program's beginning date, you willfully fail to carry the required health insurance or who make a material misrepresentation to the sponsor concerning such coverage, you and your dependents will loose their immigration status and will be subject to program termination and be reported to the U.S. Department of State.

    Why must I have insurance?

    • The costs of medical care and hospitalization are at an all-time high. An accident, unexpected illness, or hospitalization can result in a significant financial burden to you, your family, and the community.
    • A medical health plan provides a way to help defray some of these costs as they arise. Although in many countries the government bears the expenses of health care for its citizens, and sometimes even for visitors, individuals and families in the United States are responsible for these costs themselves.
    • A single day of hospitalization and medical treatment could cost thousands of dollars, and many hospitals and doctors refuse to treat uninsured patients except in life-threatening emergencies.

    How does medical insurance work?

    • When you purchase health coverage, the money you pay (premium) is combined with the premiums of others to form a pool of money. That money is then used to pay the medical bills of those participants who need medical care. Your coverage remains valid only as long as you continue to pay the insurance premiums.
    • Once you purchase insurance, your insurer provides you with an insurance identification card for use as proof of coverage should you seek medical help at a hospital or doctor's office. The company also provides written instructions for reporting and documenting medical expenses (filing a claim). The company will evaluate any claim that is filed and make the appropriate payment based upon the coverage of your policy. In some cases the company pays the hospital or doctor directly while in others the company reimburses you after you have paid the bills.

    What is the Required Minimum Insurance Coverage?

    • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;
    • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000;
    • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation to home country in the amount of $50,000; and
    • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
    • It may require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions.
    • It may include provision for co-insurance to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness; and
    • It shall not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which the exchange visitor participates.

    Who Can Insure Me?

    • Your policy must be:

      • Underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of ‘‘A–’’ or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of ‘‘A– i’’ or above, a Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of ‘‘A–’’ or above, a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above, or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify; or
      • Backed by the full faith and credit of the exchange visitor's home government; or
      • Part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor; or
      • Offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by the Health Care Financing Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    How do I choose and purchase an insurance policy?

    • In choosing an insurance policy, consider the following factors:

      • The reliability of the company.
      • Deductible amounts.
      • Co-insurance (The policy might pay 80%, and the remaining 20% is payable by the visitor.)
      • Specific limits as to what the insurance will pay for particular services.
      • Lifetime per occurrence maximums.
      • Exclusions (most insurance companies exclude coverage for certain conditions).
    • You are welcome to contact the staff in International Services about approved insurance policies available in the United States.
    • When working with an insurance agent, your should feel free to ask questions and take the time to learn about and understand the choices before making a decision. If uncertain or confused, your should not sign anything.You are required to have medical insurance in effect for yourself and any dependents in J-visa status for the duration of your program.

      • Some sponsors provide the required insurance for their participants.
      • Other sponsors may allow you to make your own arrangements or may help to identify insurance carriers.
      • Consult with your responsible officer before the start of your program.
      • Government regulations stipulate that if, after the program's beginning date, you willfully fail to carry the required health insurance or who make a material misrepresentation to the sponsor concerning such coverage, you and your dependents will loose their immigration status and will be subject to program termination and be reported to the U.S. Department of State.

      Why must I have insurance?

      • The costs of medical care and hospitalization are at an all-time high. An accident, unexpected illness, or hospitalization can result in a significant financial burden to you, your family, and the community.
      • A medical health plan provides a way to help defray some of these costs as they arise. Although in many countries the government bears the expenses of health care for its citizens, and sometimes even for visitors, individuals and families in the United States are responsible for these costs themselves.
      • A single day of hospitalization and medical treatment could cost thousands of dollars, and many hospitals and doctors refuse to treat uninsured patients except in life-threatening emergencies.

      How does medical insurance work?

      • When you purchase health coverage, the money you pay (premium) is combined with the premiums of others to form a pool of money. That money is then used to pay the medical bills of those participants who need medical care. Your coverage remains valid only as long as you continue to pay the insurance premiums.
      • Once you purchase insurance, your insurer provides you with an insurance identification card for use as proof of coverage should you seek medical help at a hospital or doctor's office. The company also provides written instructions for reporting and documenting medical expenses (filing a claim). The company will evaluate any claim that is filed and make the appropriate payment based upon the coverage of your policy. In some cases the company pays the hospital or doctor directly while in others the company reimburses you after you have paid the bills.

      What is the Required Minimum Insurance Coverage?

      • Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness;
      • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500;
      • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation to home country in the amount of $10,000; and
      • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
      • It may require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions.
      • It may include provision for co-insurance to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness; and
      • It shall not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which the exchange visitor participates.

      Who Can Insure Me?

      • Your policy must be:

        • Underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of ‘‘A–’’ or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of ‘‘A– i’’ or above, a Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of ‘‘A–’’ or above, a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above, or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify; or
        • Backed by the full faith and credit of the exchange visitor's home government; or
        • Part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor; or
        • Offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by the Health Care Financing Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

      How do I choose and purchase an insurance policy?

      • In choosing an insurance policy, consider the following factors:

        • The reliability of the company.
        • Deductible amounts.
        • Co-insurance (The policy might pay 80%, and the remaining 20% is payable by the visitor.)
        • Specific limits as to what the insurance will pay for particular services.
        • Lifetime per occurrence maximums.
        • Exclusions (most insurance companies exclude coverage for certain conditions).
      • You are welcome to contact the staff in International Services about approved insurance policies available in the United States.
      • When working with an insurance agent, your should feel free to ask questions and take the time to learn about and understand the choices before making a decision. If uncertain or confused, your should not sign anything.
  • Following are general guidelines and requirements for travel and reentry for J-1 students. However, because individual circumstances vary, consult with International Student Services, your embassy or legal advisor before traveling.

    Inside the U.S.

    • Special permission is not required for you to travel within the U.S.
    • Whenever you travel outside the Provo area, you are advised to carry your

    Outside the U.S.

    • Questions and Answers about Exchange Visitor Program: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/study/exchange.html
    • Documents
      • Entry to another country—other countries have rules and restrictions on who can enter their country and how
        • If you travel to your country of citizenship or permanent residence, you will generally be allowed to enter if you have a valid passport or other travel document issued by that country.
        • If you travel to a third country (a country other than the U.S. or your home country), you are responsible for knowing whether you need an entry visa for that country.
          • Some countries will require a visa. You may also need an in-transit visa for countries where you are making a connecting flight. Most countries have immigration websites that provide visa information.
          • Canada—Persons from many countries are required to obtain a Canadian entry visa when entering Canada from the United States. Visas may be obtained from the Canadian Consulate General. Consult the Canadian Consulate General for visa regulations concerning your country before making travel arrangements.
          • Mexico—Tourist cards or visas may be required for travel to Mexico. Information is available here.
      • Re-entry to the U.S.
        • Visa—must
          • be valid
          • allow further entries and
          • match your current status listed on your I-94
        • Passport
          • Must be valid for at least six months into the future; however,
          • Some passports are only required to be valid when you enter the U.S.
        • Form I-94—you should not surrender your current I-94 when you exit the U.S. unless you have changed your status and will be returning with a new visa.
        • Form DS-2019 that
          • Is issued by BYU
          • Is current
          • Contains an endorsement signature from International Services for travel on page 1
            • That signature is valid for 12 months
          • Current financial documentation issued within the last four months
          • Letter of lawful status—International Services will provide this certification upon your request.
          • more
      • Special Situations
        • Pending Applications for adjustment of Status—If you have a pending application for adjustment of your non-immigrant status to permanent residency, you will need permission to travel before leaving the U.S. by obtaining Advance Parole. more
        • Post-completion Academic Training
          • If you have both documentation for your academic training and of a job, you should not experience difficulty reentering the United States.
          • If either of these two conditions is missing, then you are assuming risk when you travel.
        • You may not renter during the 30-day grace period after completing your program or academic training.
        • If you require a new visa, there is no guarantee that you will be readmitted.