J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

In 1961 the United States Government passed the Mutual Education and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 in order to increase the mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of education and cultural exchanges. The Act was implemented by the US Department of State (DOS) with the creation of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program (J-1 Program). Through the J-1 Program, designated public and private entities act as sponsors, and in turn have the ability to invite international scholars to participate in research, teaching, or training in the US. After their participation, international scholars are expected to return home and share their experiences with others. 

For over 15 years, San Diego State University (SDSU) has been approved as a designated J-1 Exchange Visitor Program sponsor by the US Department of State. The Office of Faculty Advancement administers and monitors the J-1 Program for SDSU. The designated Responsible Officer (RO) for the J-1 Program at SDSU is the Office of Faculty Advancement.

If you are an SDSU faculty member, college, or department, visit the J-1 Information for Colleges and Departments page for more detailed information about inviting a prospective J-1 scholar to SDSU.

For more information for exchange visitors on how to transfer a J1 visa to SDSU, click here.

In order to participate in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, prospective international scholars must be sponsored by an SDSU department. Once a department has agreed to sponsor the scholar, they will need to work with the department's college immigration representative to gather the appropriate documentation in order to obtain authorization from the Office of Faculty Advancement to participate in SDSU's J-1 Program. The following J-1 visa categories are available for prospective scholars: Research Scholar, Professor, Short-Term Scholar, and Student Intern. For more information, please contact the designated immigration representative in the department's Dean's Office.

If the scholar is currently in the US as a J-1 scholar at a different institution, the scholar may be allowed to transfer to SDSU. The scholar will first need to initiate the process as described above. Once a department has agreed to invite the scholar to SDSU, they will need to complete the J-1 Transfer-In Request Form.

Note that prospective scholars must meet the minimum requirements in order to participate in a J-1 Exchange Visitor Program at SDSU:

English Language Proficiency Requirements
Minimum Financial Support Requirements
Minimum Health Insurance Requirements

Below are resources for new J-1 scholars who have just arrived to the U.S. to begin their program:

J-1 Registration Form
Examples of Immigration Documents
I-94 Admissions Record Online Retrieval

As part of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, all scholars must complete  J-1 orientation. In order to meet this MANDATORY requirement, scholars must do the following:

  1. View the J-1 Scholar Orientation for San Diego State University online. 
  2. Complete the J-1 Scholar Orientation Quiz and Certification
  3. Email the completed J-1 Scholar Orientation Quiz and Certification to [email protected] within 7 days of receiving the orientation email. 

Change of Address

While in the U.S. J-1 scholars must abide by J-1 Exchange Visitor Program requirements, which includes notifying Faculty Advancement of any chances to local U.S. address, telephone number, or email address.

Change of Address Form

Travel Notification

Additionally, J-1 scholars must report any international travel to Faculty Advancement at least two (2) weeks prior to travel. An appointment with Faculty Advancement is required in order to obtain the necessary travel authorization signature on the DS-2019 form. Contact [email protected] to schedule an appointment.

Travel Notification Form

Occasional Lectures or Consultations Outside of SDSU

J-1 scholars sponsored by SDSU are only permitted to participate in activities (teach, conduct research, etc.) with SDSU. If a J-1 scholar is invited to be a guest lecturer or consult at a U.S. institution outside of SDSU, they may be able to do so as long as the following requirements are met for the proposed activity:

  • Must not be a reoccurring event, in that it is a single event rather than an ongoing activity;
  • Must be directly related to the objectives of the scholar's J-1 Exchange Visitor Program;
  • Must be incidental to the scholar's primary program activities; and
  • Must not delay the completion of the scholar's J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.

If the J-1 scholar's activity meets the above requirements, please complete J-1 Occasional Lectures or Consultations Request Form provide an invitation letter from the inviting institution. The letter should include the terms and conditions of the activity; duration and number of hours; site of activity; type and amount of compensation (if applicable); and a brief description of the activity. 

J-1 Occasional Lectures or Consultations Request Form

A J-1 scholar's program is considered completed once the end date is reached on the DS-2019 form. However, there may be instances where the J-1 scholar completes their program objectives earlier than expected. If this is the case, the scholar is expected to end their J-1 status by returning to their home country.

There is a grace period for J-1 scholars and their dependents. The J visa status allows for a 30 day grace period from the end of the J-1 program. Note that this 30 day grace period only allows for tourist activities within the U.S. and for preparations for returning to the J-1's home country. J-1 scholars are not allowed to continue working or be paid by SDSU during this grace period. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If you would like to come to SDSU as a J-1 scholar, you must first contact the faculty member with whom you would like to conduct research with while at SDSU. Once the faculty member has agreed to sponsor you, you will need to work with the department’s college immigration representative to prepare the J-1 Initial Request forms.

Eligibility is dependent upon various factors. Generally, the J-1 scholar program is the most common visa for visiting academic staff and graduate students enrolled at a university outside of the U.S. The minimum requirements for those who wish to participate in a J-1 program include:

Note, if you have held a J visa before, you may or may not be eligible to participate in a J-1 program at SDSU. Email Christinejoy Sampankanpanich if you would like to discuss the matter in detail.

No, as a J-1 scholar you are not allowed to enroll in classes while conducting research at SDSU. If you wish to enroll in classes, please refer to the SDSU International Student Center website for information on how to come to SDSU as a student.

The length of your program depends are what is agreed upon between you and your SDSU faculty mentor/supervisor. Per J-1 regulations, the maximum program durations are as followed:

  • Research Scholar or Professor: 5 years
  • Short-Term Scholar: 6 months
  • Student Intern: 1 year

The DS-2019 form permits a prospective exchange visitor to seek an interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy in order to obtain a J visa to enter the U.S. The DS-2019 is one of the most important documents for an individual in J status, as it identifies the exchange visitor, their designated sponsor, and provides a brief description of their exchange visitor program.

In order to obtain a DS-2019, you must first contact the faculty member with whom you would like to conduct research with while at SDSU. Once the faculty member has agreed to sponsor you, you will need to work with the department’s college immigration representative to prepare the J-1 Initial Request forms. Faculty Advancement will review the forms and issue the DS-2019 accordingly.

Yes, you may bring your spouse and children with you during your program. Spouse and children may come to the US under the J-2 visa. They will need a DS-2019 and also require evidence that they will be financially supported while in the US with you. Note that they do not need to arrive at the same time as you. J-2 dependents are allowed to enter the U.S. separately at a later time if they wish to do so.

Yes, you must report any address changes to Faculty Advancement within 10 days of your move. Complete the Change of Address Form and email the completed form to [email protected].

Yes, please contact [email protected] to schedule an appointment to obtain travel authorization signature on your DS-2019 form. If you already have the travel authorization signature, you do not need to meet with someone in person. You will just need to email the Travel Notification Form to [email protected] so that someone can update your record with the information.

It depends. If you do not plan to travel internationally during that time, you do not need to renew your visa. If you do plan to travel internationally during your program, you will need to renew your visa with a U.S. consulate or embassy.