The J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is for international researchers, professors, and specialists who have been approved to enter the United States for a specific objective and for a temporary period of time. Scholars in this category are prohibited from permanent or tenure-track positions. The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is directed by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) with the purpose of promoting educational and cultural exchange. Rice University is authorized by the U.S. Department of State to administer BridgeUSA (J-1 visa) programs. J-1 scholars must have sufficient English language proficiency and must meet the J-1 health insurance requirements for themselves and any dependents.
Bringing a J-1 Scholar to Rice
- J-1 Scholar Categories
1) Research Scholar or Professor:
• Purpose: Teaching or research
• Duration: Minimum of 3 weeks to maximum of 5 years
• Considerations: $300 Rice fee + SEVIS and Visa Fees. Subject to Bars on Repeat Participation in many J categories. J-1 Health Insurance and English Proficiency requirements. May be able to transfer between J-1 programs.
2) Short-Term Scholar:
• Purpose: Teaching or research
• Duration: Minimum of 1 day to maximum of 6 months
• Considerations: $300 Rice fee + SEVIS and Visa Fees. No Bars on Repeat Participation but research objectives need to be different for each visit. J-1 Health Insurance and English Proficiency requirements.
• Purpose: Provide expertise in a highly specialized area
• Duration: Minimum of 3 weeks to maximum of 1 year
• Considerations: $300 Rice fee + SEVIS and Visa Fees. Possible Bar on Repeat Participation. J-1 Health Insurance and English Proficiency requirements.
*Visiting International Undergraduate Researchers also come on J-1 visas but in the Student category. For more information, please see the Visiting International UG Researcher page.
- English Proficiency Requirement
According to federal regulations, J Exchange Visitors (EV) must possess “sufficient proficiency in the English language...to participate in his or her program and to function on a day-to-day basis.” [22 CFR 62.11(a)(2)] Sponsoring institutions are required to determine an applicant’s English proficiency before a DS-2019 can be issued. At Rice, one of the following conditions must be met for a J-1 applicant to demonstrate English proficiency:
Option 1) Candidate is from an English-speaking country. (List of English-speaking countries: Anguilla, Antigua, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada (English-speaking provinces), Cayman Islands, Dominica, Fiji Islands, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Liberia, Montserrat, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, South Africa, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Kitts & Nevis, The Bahamas, Trinidad, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom, U.S. Virgin Islands, West Indies, or Zimbabwe.)
Option 2) Candidate has earned an acceptable score on a recognized English language test. TOEFL (minimum score 600 paper-based/250 computer-based/90 internet-based). IELTS (minimum score 7)
Option 3) Candidate completed a higher education degree or has a high school diploma from an English-speaking country. Academic Department will need to provide proof of attendance (diploma/transcript).
Option 4) Candidate has successfully completed the Rice video/audio interview. Please log on to https://cwovc.mywconline.com/ to schedule an appointment for your scholar. You will need the scholar’s Skype (http://www.skype.com) username.
- Financial Requirement and Itemized Fees
The funding requirements for J-1 are:
• J-1 Scholar: $2000/month
• J-2 Spouse: +$405/month or +$4860/year
• Each J-2 child: +$150/month or +$1800/year
U.S. Government Fees:
• SEVIS fee: $220 (as of 06/24/2019)
• Visa Application Fee (U.S. Department of State): $160
Rice University Fees:
• University J Scholar Fee: $300. Proof of fee payment is required before DS-2019 can be issued. To make payments, visit https://signup.rice.edu/JScholarFee/ or submit an IDT to A1/698000/58100 (if electronic, please select Crystal Davis or Flor Garcia as approver)
• Health Insurance Fees: Depends on health insurance plan selected. Please see https://oiss.rice.edu/scholarhealthinsurance for additional information.
• Academic Department Fees: Check-in with host department, possible fees vary per department
• FedEx fees for university documents: Check with host department
- Health Insurance Requirement
All J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents are required to have health insurance for the full duration of their program and provide proof of coverage to OISS in order to maintain their valid immigration status. For more information, please see https://oiss.rice.edu/scholarhealthinsurance.
- Required Documentation for DS-2019
Applying for a J-1 visa requires obtaining a DS-2019 form, issued by OISS to the J-1 Scholar. Please submit the required documents to OISS at least 90 days before requested program start date to allow time for OISS and visa processing. Please submit the following documents to OISS either by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via Box. If using Box, please include Maria, Jenny, and Andy as viewers.
- Copy of the passport identification page
- Completed DS-2019 Request Form for Scholars, Part I: Scholar Form (completed by scholar)
- Completed DS-2019 Request Form for Scholars, Part II: Academic Department Form, including the English Language Proficiency Determination Form (completed by Rice academic department) – Skype interviews for English proficiency cost $30 and are scheduled by the Academic Department at CAPC (Center for Academic and Professional Communication).
- Personnel Action Form (PAF) or Hiring Proposal from RiceWorks (for paid J-1 Exchange Visitors only – not needed for unpaid positions processed through the Visitor Management System (VMS)
- Proof of financial support, minimum of $2000/month – additional funding is required for dependents, if applicable ($4860/spouse/year or $405/spouse/month & $1800/child/year or $150/child/month)
- Original offer letter provided by Dean's Office
- Proof of paid $300 J-1 EV Rice central administrative fee. To make payments, visit https://signup.rice.edu/JScholarFee/ or submit an IDT to A1/698000/58100 (if electronic, please select Crystal Davis or Flor Garcia as approver)
- If scholar is bringing dependents: Copy of passport identification page for each dependent
- If scholar is bringing dependents: Copy of marriage certificate / birth certificate
- For scholars transferring in from another U.S. Institution: Please also include the Rice Transfer-In Request Form. Transferring in a scholar can be more tricky and is not always possible. Please reach out to a J advisor for more direction and support.
Please note that the DS-2019 form should not be copied and should not be sent electronically (e.g. scanned or faxed). You may send relevant information from the DS-2019 (i.e. the SEVIS number and Rice's Program Number), but not a copy of the form itself. Please feel free to contact OISS if you have any questions.
- Mailing the DS-2019
The Academic Department is responsible for mailing the DS-2019 packets to new scholars. In addition to the DS-2019, the packets will also include (via email or printed):
• Rice offer letter
• Welcome letter from OISS with important information
• Wilberforce Pamphlet
• Exchange Visitor Program Welcome Brochure
- SEVIS Fee and Visa Application
Step 1. Review your Immigration Paperwork
Please review your Form DS-2019 for accuracy (e.g. name, date of birth, program dates, etc.)
Step 2: Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee
Once you have received your form DS-2019, please pay the required SEVIS I-901 fee ($220 for J-1 visas, no additional fee for dependents). In addition to presenting your payment receipt to the U.S. Consulate, you should keep it to show upon entry into the U.S. For more information, please see the OISS Pre-Arrival Information at https://oiss.rice.edu/prearrival and visit http://www.FMJfee.com
Step 3: Complete the Visa Application Forms and Pay the Visa Application Fee
Complete the required visa applications forms, carefully ensuring all the information matches your immigration documents exactly. You will also need to pay a Visa Application Fee. For more information, please see the website of the particular U.S. consulate where you will attend your visa interview.
Step 4: Attend Your Visa Interview
Attend the scheduled visa interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy/Consulate. Be sure to take all of your immigration documentation with you, as well as a copy of your Rice admission/offer letter and all of your financial documentation. Please make sure that the name on your visa stamp is written the same as in your passport and on your immigration paperwork! For helpful tips on applying for your U.S. visa, please see https://oiss.rice.edu/visa-tips.
*Please note that Canadian citizens are not required to have a visa stamp, and may enter the U.S. using their form DS-2019 and proof of payment of the SEVIS I-901 fee.
- Verifying Scholar Start Date
If due to visa delays, etc., a scholar’s initial start date needs to be altered, please provide required additional documentation to OISS (usually requires updated offer letter and possible PAF).
J-1 Scholar Arrival
- U.S. Entry Procedures
Please note that you may NOT enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program start date on your DS-2019. Upon arriving to an airport in the U.S., an immigration officer will inspect your passport, visa, DS-2019, documents from Rice, and letters indicating how you will be financed while living in the U.S. Keep these items in your carry-on luggage. Do not pack them in your checked bags.
Unless entering the U.S. through a land border, your official Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record will be issued electronically. You should visit the CBP website to print a copy at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/. The number on the electronic I-94 record, also known as the “admission number,” will be used for several purposes while you are in the U.S., and together with your DS-2019 the I-94 record is the official document that shows your lawful status in the United States.
Finally, the customs officials may inspect your baggage for illegal materials or have CBP canines sniff for drugs. Additionally, electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, may be opened/unlocked and searched by the officials. If you are uncomfortable with having your electronic property assessed, it may be advisable to leave these items in your checked luggage.
**You must report to OISS and complete your immigration check-in before you begin your employment at Rice. If you do not check in at OISS, the U.S. government will assume that you are not coming and your SEVIS record will be terminated automatically. More information about the check-in process is available below.
- Immigration Check-in
International scholars must complete a mandatory immigration check-in with OISS as soon as possible after arrival, but no later than within their first week at Rice.
The Immigration Check-in has 2 parts:
Part 1 – Documents Upload: Scholars will receive an invitation to OISS Portal, where they can upload copies of their immigration documentation. For more information on the document requirements and the check-in process, please see https://oiss.rice.edu/scholar-orientation
Part 2 – Scheduling the Advisor Session: After you complete the document upload, we will reach out to you to schedule a 75 minute session with an OISS Advisor.
- Living in Houston
For information on Housing, Banking, Cell Phones, Driving, Social Security Numbers, Taxes, etc., please visit the Living in the U.S. section of the OISS website.
- Social Security Information for Paid Scholars
Please see https://oiss.rice.edu/ssn.
- Maintaining Status
Please see https://oiss.rice.edu/maintainingstatus.
- J-1 Scholar Extensions
In order to request an extension of J-1 status for a current scholar, the sponsoring Academic Department must complete the online J-1 Scholars: Extension of Stay form at https://oiss.rice.edu/J-extension (NetID login required) at least two weeks before the scholar's current DS-2019 end date. Please note that you will be asked to upload the following documents as part of the online form:
- Copy of a new offer letter from Dean's Office
- Copy of PAF or Hiring Proposal with updated dates (not needed for unpaid positions processed through the Visitor Management System)
- Updated funding in the amount of $2000/month for the additional time if not included in the offer letter (additional funding will be required if the J-1 has dependents)
There are time limits for different J-1 categories. For questions on time limits or other questions regarding J-1 extensions, please email email@example.com.
- Meeting with an OISS Advisor
Please see https://oiss.rice.edu/appointment.
- Cultural Activities
Make sure to reach your OISS-Announce emails for cultural activities and other important immigration updates. You can also find out about OISS Events at https://oiss.rice.edu/events and about Rice events at https://events.rice.edu/.
Please see https://oiss.rice.edu/tax.
Leaving Rice University
- Departure Form
Make sure to fill out the OISS online Departure Form prior to leaving Rice. You can access the form at https://riceuniversity.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_42h952dGWXQfRNr.
- Transferring to Another U.S. Institution
Exchange Visitors intending to transfer out from Rice University should discuss their plans with their faculty sponsor and an OISS advisor, as well as with the international office and the hiring department of the Transfer-In Academic Institution. The transfer should be supported by the faculty sponsor and approved by the OISS office. A completed Transfer-Out Request Form, Offer Letter from the Transfer-In Academic Institution, and any other immigration forms from the Transfer-In Academic Institution needs Rice to complete must be submitted to OISS at least 30 days prior to the transfer date.
- 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. It is possible for a J-1 Exchange Visitor to be subject to both requirements.
- 2-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement
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. This requirement is typically imposed based on government funding (i.e. if the program is financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the U.S. government or the government of the Exchange Visitor's citizenship), or the "Skills List" (i.e. the Exchange Visitor is a citizen of a country which has deemed the field of specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the country). The 212(e) 2-year home-country physical presence requirement may be waived if the Exchange Visitor is able to secure a recommendation for a waiver from their home country government as well as the U.S. Department of State. For more information, please see https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/study/exchange.html.
The 212(e) 2-year home-country physical presence requirement is separate from the 12-month and 24-month repeat participation bars. It is possible for a J-1 Exchange Visitor to be subject to both requirements.