J-1 Exchange Visitor

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is for those who participate in educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the Department of State. Students and Scholars who participate in these programs are called Exchange Visitors and come to the U.S. with a non-immigrant J-1 visa. Their dependents (i.e. a legally married spouse or child under the age of 21) come with a J-2 visa. International scholars who come to Rice to do research or to teach usually come as Exchange Visitors with a J-1 visa.

J-1 Categories

J-1 scholar can come to Rice in one of several categories:

Research Scholar or Professor: This category is intended for individuals who are coming to Rice for more than 6 months to conduct research or teach. The maximum duration of this category is 5 years. Upon completion of the program, the Exchange Visitor will be subject to the 24-Month Bar on Repeat Participation as a J-1 Research Scholar / Professor.

Short-Term Scholar: This category is intended for individuals who are coming to Rice for less than 6 months to conduct research or teach. The maximum duration of this category is 6 months, and it cannot be extended beyond that time. Back to back visits as a J-1 Short-Term Scholar are not permitted without a clear change in the research objective.

Student Non-Degree: This category is intended for visiting international undergraduate students, who come to do research and do not yet have a bachelor's (or bachelor's equivalent) by the time of their arrival at Rice. The maximum duration of this category is 24 months. If the program is longer than 6 months, upon completion the Exchange Visitor will be subject to the 12-Month Bar on Repeat Participation as a J-1 Research Scholar / Professor. For more information on processing these visitors, please see the Visiting International UG Researcher page.

Specialist: This category is intended for individuals who can demonstrate highly specialized skills. The maximum duration of this category is 12 months. If the program is longer than 6 months, upon completion the Exchange Visitor will be subject to the 12-Month Bar on Repeat Participation as a J-1 Research Scholar / Professor.

Obtaining a DS-2019 Form for a J-1 Exchange Visitor

Applying for a J-1 visa requires obtaining a DS-2019 form, issued by OISS to the visitor. Please submit request packet below to OISS at least 90 days before requested program start date to allow time for OISS and visa processing. For J-1 Exchange Visitors who are paid by Rice, please submit the following documents in hard copy to OISS. For J-1 Exchange Visitors who are not paid by Rice, the following documents may be uploaded through the Visitor Portal.

Checklist of Required Documents for DS-2019 (prints two per page)

  1. Copy of the passport identification page
  2. Completed DS-2019 Request Form for Scholars, Part I: Scholar Form (completed by scholar)
  3. 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).
  4. 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 Portal)
  5. Proof of financial support, minimum of $2000/month – additional funding is required for dependents, if applicable ($4860/spouse/year or $405/spouse/month & $1900/child/year or $150/child/month)
  6. Original offer letter provided by Dean's Office plus two copies (not needed for unpaid positions processed through the Visitor Portal)
  7. CV
  8. 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)
  9. If scholar is bringing dependents: Copy of passport identification page for each dependent
  10. If scholar is bringing dependents: Copy of marriage certificate / birth certificate

Please note that the DS-2019 form should not be copied and may not under any circumstances 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.

Start Date Guidance for J-1 Exchange Visitors

The Actual Start Date ("ASD") is the calendar day on which a J-1 scholar begins in the Academic Department. Quite often the ASD is different from the DS-2019 Start Date, which was issued many months ago. OISS is required to update the DS-2019 Start Date to accurately reflect the ASD.

In order to comply with this requirement, we need our Academic Departments to maintain continuous communication with their J-1 scholars and inform OISS of any ASD changes in a timely manner.

  • A J-1 scholar can enter the U.S. from 30 days prior to 30 days past their DS-2019 Start Date. After this period, their DS-2019 will automatically expire.
  • ASD changes can never be retroactive.
  • Short-Term Scholars cannot extend their J-1 program for more than 6 months. Failure to update their Start Date in a timely manner can result in a considerable shortening of their program.

Required Documents to change a DS-2019 Start Date (All documents must be submitted with any change request):

  • Postdoctoral Researcher paid by Rice: Hiring Proposal + Revised Dean's Offer Letter
  • Other Scholar paid by Rice: Revised PAF + Revised Dean's Offer Letter
  • Academic Visitor (non-paid): Update dates in Visitor Portal + update funding as needed
  • Undergraduate Researcher paid by Rice: Revised EPAF + Revised Dean's Offer Letter + inform Office of the Registrar
  • Undergraduate Researcher not paid by Rice: Revised Dean's Offer Letter + inform Office of the Registrar + update funding as needed

Procedure to change the DS-2019 Start Date to reflect the ASD:

  1. The Academic Department will send an email to OISS requesting the DS-2019 Start Date change, mentioning the name and type of scholar, current DS-2019 Start Date, ASD and reason for change.
  2. The Academic Department will provide OISS the corresponding revised documents.
  3. OISS will change the DS-2019 Start Date only after having received all revised documents.
  4. OISS will update the start date in SEVIS and issue a new DS-2019 when necessary. At this point, the ASD and the DS-2019 Start Date will be the same.
  5. OISS will inform the Academic Department when the new DS-2019 is ready for pick-up.
  6. The Academic Department will confirm the new DS-2019 Start Date to the J-1 scholar.
  7. The Academic Department will pick up and send new DS-2019 to the J-1 scholar (depending on timing, it may sometimes be possible for the J-1 scholar to get the new DS-2019 directly from OISS during their immigration check-in appointment). Please note that the DS-2019 form should not be copied and may not under any circumstances be sent electronically (e.g. scanned or faxed).

Your effort in following this procedure will determine the success of having a final ASD by the time the scholar checks in with OISS so that your Department programs will start as scheduled.

J-1 Scholar Extensions

In order to request an extension of J-1 status for a current scholar, the sponsoring Academic Department must provide OISS with the following documentation at least two weeks before the scholar's current DS-2019 end date via campus mail (MS-365), or through the Visitor Portal:

  • J-1 Scholar Extension Request Form (must be filled out by Academic Department, not J Exchange Visitor)
  • Copy of a new offer letter from Dean's Office (not needed for unpaid positions processed through the Visitor Portal)
  • Copy of PAF or Hiring Proposal with updated dates (not needed for unpaid positions processed through the Visitor Portal)
  • 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 oiss@rice.edu.

J-1 Scholars Transferring to Rice University

General Information

  • Exchange Visitors may transfer from one designated program to another to complete the objective of their Exchange Visitor visa (J-1).
  • The research or teaching objective must remain the same.
  • When transferring from one institution to another, the category of Exchange Visitor must be identical.
  • Transfer can only take place while the current DS-2019 is active. There must be no gap between the current program’s End Date and the new program’s Start Date.
  • The time between the current Program Start Date and the new Program End Date cannot exceed the permissible duration of the Exchange Visitor Category (e.g. 5 years for Research Scholars/Professors, 6 months for Short-Term Scholars).
  • J-1 transfers require coordination between the Exchange Visitor, the RO/ARO of the Exchange Visitor’s current institution, Rice OISS, and the Rice Academic Department hosting the Exchange Visitor.
  • Exchange Visitors are not allowed to start their new program until the transfer date has been reached and a DS-2019 form has been issued by OISS.

Transfer-in packets must include the Rice Transfer-In Request Form, all required documents to issue a DS-2019, and proof of health insurance while at Rice. These packets must be submitted to OISS at least 45 days prior to the transfer date.

Transfer Process

Transferring Exchange Visitor must:

  • Communicate to their current institution the intention to transfer to Rice.
  • Complete section A of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Transfer-In Request Form.
  • Ask an RO/ARO of their current institution to fill out section B of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Transfer-In Request Form.
  • Send to Rice Academic Department the J-1 Exchange Visitor Transfer-In Request Form with sections A and B completed.
  • Send to Rice Academic Department all documents required for a DS-2019.
  • Send to Rice Academic Department any other immigration forms from the current Academic Institution that they need Rice to complete.
  • Send to Rice Academic Department proof of health insurance that meets the J-1 requirements.
  • Attend a check-in and orientation with OISS on their program Start Date.
  • Obtain their new DS-2019 from OISS during the check-in and orientation.

Sponsoring Rice Academic Department must:

  • Ask Rice Sponsor Faculty to electronically complete section C of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Transfer-In Request Form, including a detailed explanation of how the Exchange Visitor will continue or complete the objective of their current J-1 visa.
  • As soon as the J-1 Exchange Visitor Transfer-In Request Form is completed, send it to OISS via Campus Mail or drop it off in person.
  • Request and gather all required documents to create a Rice sponsored DS-2019 for the transferring Exchange Visitor.
  • Request and gather any other immigration forms from the current Academic Institution that they need Rice to complete.
  • Send the documents to OISS by Campus Mail or drop them off in person at OISS, if the Exchange Visitor is going to be paid by Rice (at least 45 days prior to start date).
  • Upload the documents to the Visitor Portal if the Exchange Visitor is not funded by Rice (at least 45 days prior to start date).

OISS will review the transfer documents submitted by Rice Academic Department and will collaborate with the Exchange Visitor’s current institution to verify that the transfer can be done. OISS will inform Rice Academic Department if the transfer has been approved or not. If the transfer is approved, Rice Academic Department will make an appointment for the Exchange Visitor to check in with OISS. This appointment has to be on the Exchange Visitor’s start date at Rice. OISS will complete the immigration transfer on the agreed date and issue a Rice sponsored DS-2019 for the transferring scholar. OISS will verify and make copies of the transferred scholar's immigration documents and provide the new DS-2019 to the scholar during the check-in and orientation.

J-1 Scholars Transferring Out from Rice University

General Information

  • Exchange Visitors may transfer from one designated program to another to complete the objective of their Exchange Visitor visa (J-1).
  • The research or teaching objective must remain the same.
  • When transferring from one institution to another, the category of Exchange Visitor must be identical.
  • Transfer can only take place while the current DS-2019 is active. There must be no gap between the current program’s End Date and the new program’s Start Date.
  • The time between the current Program Start Date and the new Program End Date cannot exceed the permissible duration of the Exchange Visitor Category (e.g. 5 years for Research Scholars/ Professors, 6 months for Short-Term Scholars).
  • J-1 transfers require coordination between the Exchange Visitor, Rice OISS, and the RO/ARO of the institution the Exchange Visitor is transferring to (Transfer-In Academic Institution).
  • Exchange Visitors are not allowed to start their new program until the transfer date has been reached and a DS-2019 form has been issued by the Transfer-In Institution's international office.

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.

Transfer Process

Transferring Exchange Visitor must:

  • Obtain Letter of Employment from the Transfer-In Academic Institution.
  • Complete section A of the J-1 Scholar Transfer-Out Request Form.
  • Ask an RO/ARO of the Transfer-In Academic Institution to fill out section C of the J-1 Scholar Transfer-Out Request Form and provide any forms that they need to be filled out by Rice.
  • Send to Rice Academic Department the J-1 Scholar Transfer-Out Request Form with sections A and C completed, Letter of Employment from Transfer-In Academic Institution, and any other immigration forms from the Transfer-In Academic Institution that they need Rice to complete.
  • Ask Rice Sponsor Faculty to electronically complete section B of the J-1 Scholar Transfer-Out Request Form.
  • Send to OISS the completed J-1 Scholar Transfer-Out Request Form, Letter of Employment from Transfer-In Academic Institution, and any other immigration forms from the Transfer-In Academic Institution that they need Rice to complete, via Campus Mail or drop them off in person.

OISS will review the transfer documents and will collaborate with the Transfer-In Academic Institution to verify that the transfer will be successful. If the transfer is approved, OISS will transfer the J-1 Scholar’s record to the Transfer-In Academic Institution.

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.