Key Regulations and Procedures Affecting J-1 Visiting Researchers and Professors and Their J-2 Dependents
1. The Exchange Visitor Program
The Exchange Visitor Program is used to bring people to the United States for a variety of educational and cultural exchange purposes under the sponsorship of a school, an agency, or an organization that has been designated as an exchange visitor sponsor by the United States Department of State.
The University of Houston is a designated sponsor of an exchange visitor program. To determine if the University of Houston is your program sponsor, look at item #2 on your Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (DS-2019) form.
Definition of "employment"
The exchange visitor may receive compensation from the sponsor when the activities are part of the visitor's program.
To work for any employer other than the school named on the DS-2019, you should make an appointment to see an international student counselor. The employment must be directly related to your program objectives, incidental to your program activities, and should not delay completion of your program. In addition, it must be approved by your department head or supervisor.
With the sponsor's permission, professors and research scholars may participate in occasional lectures and short-term consultations. These activities must be directly related to the objectives of the exchange visitor program, incidental to the exchange visitor's primary program activities, and not delay the completion date of the exchange visitors program.
The exchange visitor is prohibited from engaging in unauthorized employment. Engaging in unauthorized employment is in violation of the regulations and subjects the exchange visitor to termination from the program. One form of unauthorized employment is working or continuing to work without a valid DS-2019. In other words, any work performed after an DS-2019 has expired is unauthorized, the exchange visitor would be required to leave the United States.
J-1 researchers with Staff jobs must comply with UH Staff requirements. All staff positions (including research staff) must be posted through the Human Resources job posting system (OJS).
3. Program Length
4. Program Extensions
Extensions within a 5 year maximum
Requests for extensions within 5 years are initiated by having your department complete and submit a new DS-2019 request form with the $80.00 fee. You should begin this process at least two months prior to the end date on your current DS-2019. Your extension will be processed in the ISSS. Once your DS-2019 is completed, you may pick it up at the ISSS.
5. Travel Outside the United States During Your Stay
6. Transfer to Another Program
7. Change of Category
8. Limitation of Consecutive Program Participation
TWO-YEAR BAR ON REPEAT PARTICIPATION COMPLETED IN LESS THAN FIVE YEARS
According to DOS, an individual who has participated in the Exchange Visitor Program as a professor or researcher becomes subject to a two-year bar on “repeat participation” in those categories under two circumstances:
If the exchange visitor completes a full five years of program participation with one or more sponsors; or
If the exchange visitor completes a particular exchange visitor program, and the SEVIS record becomes Inactive before the full five-year period is over. In this case, the five-year window is “closed,” the individual is not eligible to access the remaining unused time, and the individual must wait for two years before beginning a new program as a J professor or research scholar.
The second circumstance would subject the participant to the two-year bar regardless of how much time he or she spent on the program.
Can Short-Term Scholar category be used to avoid the two-year Bar?
No. Participation in the short-term scholar category does not trigger the 12-month bar or 24-month bar restrictions. However, US Department of State prohibits the short-term scholar category to be used as a "way around" those bars.
Does this two-year bar replace the one-year bar?
No. In addition to the two-year bar rule, the general proposition of the 12-month bar is that an alien is not eligible to begin an exchange program as a professor or research scholar based on a DS-2019 issued to begin a new program if he or she was physically present in any J status (including J-2 status) for all or part of the twelve month period immediately preceding the date of program commencement set for on his or her Form DS-2019. This general rule is then modified by three exceptions:
Presence in J status for less than 6 months. (If he/she was in research scholar or professor category, he/she will be subject to two-year bar)
Presence in J status as a short-term scholar
9. The Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement
Some J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents are subject to this requirement. Upon the completion of the J-1's program objectives, the J-1 and J-2(s) are expected to return to their country within 30 days, or within 30 days of the expiration date on your DS-2019, whichever is sooner. If you are subject to this requirement, you are restricted from changing to some other types of nonimmigrant status, and restricted from changing to permanent residency. Under certain circumstances you may apply for a waiver of this requirement. Processing the application may take up to one year.
Note, if you receive a waiver, you are not permitted to apply for an extension of your DS-2019. Consequently, once the waiver is received, you should take steps to change to some other non immigrant status.
It may take up to one year to receive a reply to a waiver application. Therefore, you should make sure that you have sufficient time indicated on your DS-2019 to apply for the waiver.
10. Health Insurance Requirement
11. J-2 Dependents
In order to invite family members (i.e. husband, wife, or children) to join you on the J-2 visa you should submit an DS-2019 request form to ISSS. After you pick up the DS-2019, you should send it to your dependents so that they may apply for a J-2 visa at a United States Embassy or Consulate.
J-2 dependents may apply for employment authorization with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as long as the income from the employment is not needed to support the J-1 exchange visitor and his/her dependents. Ask for a handout about J-2 employment and an I-765 form at the front desk of the ISSS.
12. Reinstatement Procedures
If a J-1 exchange visitor violates his or her J-1 immigration status, it is possible to apply to be reinstated to lawful J-1 status in some cases. The most common way J-1 exchange visitors violate their status is to fail to apply for an extension of the DS-2019 prior to the expiration date.
Reinstatement applications are approved or denied at the discretion of the US Department of State. If a reinstatement application is not approved, the exchange visitor's program will be terminated and the exchange visitor will be required to leave the United States.