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, the required level is based on our graduate admissions policy, and 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 is available at https://graduate.rice.edu/admissions/language-proficiency-requirements.)
Option 2) Candidate has earned an acceptable score on a recognized English language test (TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo). List of acceptable scores is available at https://graduate.rice.edu/admissions/language-proficiency-requirements.
Option 3) Candidate completed a higher education degree or has a high school diploma from an English-speaking country or an approved international university where the official language of instruction is English. List of approved countries or international universities is available at https://graduate.rice.edu/admissions/language-proficiency-requirements.
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 (detailed instructions below).
Instructions for Making an Appointment for a J-1 Visa English Proficiency Interview (Option 4)
1) Log on to the CAPC scheduling system:
• Visit capc.rice.edu
• Click "Schedule Consultation," then "Schedule Now"
2) Your login is your current Rice NetID and password. The first time you visit the scheduling system, you will be prompted to register for an account once you login.
3) Once you have registered, every time you log in you will want to choose the schedule titled J-1 Visa Interviews + the current semester. (Ex: “J-1 Visa Interviews – Fall 2021”)
4) Now you should be at the calendar for interviews for the current semester. Click on the day and time that your J-1 candidate is available. In the example below, you will see Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. circled.
5) Clicking a time slot will open a window where you can enter the required information about the J-1 applicant.
• Your name should auto-fill in the field labeled "Client."
• The name of the person listed under Staff or Resource (in this case, “Randi”) is the name of the person who will be conducting the interview, in case you want to let the J-1 applicant know this information. However, it is not critical for the interviewee to have this information before the interview, and it is possible it might change.
• The interview will be conducted via Zoom. The link in the gray box below the Staff or Resource name is the Zoom meeting link you should provide the scholar.
• Please provide the department or program the scholar will be working with and the funding source (Chart of Accounts string or POETAF) for the interview fee. This service is being provided to the Rice community on behalf of OISS by the CAPC. Departments will be charged $30 per interview, and fees will be processed via File Based Data Import on a monthly basis.
6) After the interview is successfully scheduled, the selected time will appear green. You also will receive an email confirmation. If neither of these actions occurs, please try again to schedule your desired time. If you are still having difficulty scheduling an interview, please contact Shar’-Lin Anderson at x4932.
• You will receive a reminder email two days before the interview. You can either delete that message or forward it to the J-1 applicant.
• NOTE: The times listed on this schedule are all in local Houston time. Please let the interviewee know that they needs to convert that time to their local time (Ex: 7 p.m. Houston = 9 a.m. Beijing). A conversion tool can be found at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html.
If you encounter any problems when scheduling an English proficiency interview for a J-1 visa applicant, please contact Shar’-Lin Anderson at x4932.
- Financial Requirement and Itemized Fees
J-1 Exchange Visitors must demonstrate the minimum funding for themselves and any dependents at the rates listed below. But please note: the minimum funding required for the J-1 visa is an estimated amount and does not necessarily cover the actual cost of living in the United States. We strongly recommend that J-1 scholars plan and prepare for more expenses for housing and other personal needs during the program, including utilities, local transportation, groceries, clothing, phone service, medical care, travel, and emergencies. It is always helpful to have an emergency fund on hand, depending upon what costs arise.
The funding requirements for J-1 are:
• J-1 Scholar: $2300/month
• J-2 Spouse: +$500/month or +$6000/year
• Each J-2 child: +$300/month or +$3600/year
U.S. Government Fees:
• SEVIS fee: $220 (as of 06/24/2019)
• Visa Application Fee (U.S. Department of State): $160 (increases to $185 effective May 30, 2023)
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 10.00100.100.000000.5952.100.9999.9999.999.999 (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.
- Submitting the J-1 Request to OISS
Applying for a J-1 visa requires obtaining a DS-2019 form, issued by OISS to the J-1 Scholar. The host department must submit the J-1 request to OISS at least 90 days before the requested program start date to allow time for OISS and visa processing. The request process consists of two Adobe Sign forms, which must be completed in order.
J-1 Request Part 1: Scholar Form – This form is initiated by the academic department and then sent to the J-1 scholar for completion.
J-1 Request Part 2: Department Form – This form is initiated by the academic department after they receive the completed J-1 Request Scholar Form.
Please see https://oiss.rice.edu/j1-request for detailed instructions on how to complete both forms.
Click here to view a recording of one of the demo sessions for the new form (approximately 20 minutes).
When completing the J-1 Request Part 1: Scholar Form, the scholar will be required to provide the following:
- Copy of the passport identification page
- CV in English
- Proof of English proficiency (see above for options) unless it is being met by option 4, Rice video/audio interview.
- If applicable: I-612 Approval Notice from USCIS (only for scholars who have previously been in J-1 status and have been granted a waiver for the 212(e) 2-year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement)
- Proof of financial support, please see "Financial Requirement and Itemized Fees" section above (Not required for scholars who will be paid by Rice and whose salary covers the minimum funding requirements)
- If applicable: Proof of paid $300 J-1 EV Rice central administrative fee, unless the department chooses to pay the fee on the scholar's behalf. To make payments, visit https://signup.rice.edu/JScholarFee/
- 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 each dependent.
When completing the J-1 Request Part 2: Department Form, the department will be required to provide the following:
- Original offer letter provided by Dean's Office (for paid scholars processed through HR the offer letter from iO is also sufficient)
- Printout of the employment information under Person Management in iO, showing the assignment details (for paid J-1 Exchange Visitors only – not needed for unpaid positions processed through the Visitor Management System (VMS))
- If English proficiency is met by option 4, Rice video/audio interview: Interview score confirmation from CAPC. These Zoom interviews for English proficiency cost $30 and are scheduled by the Academic Department at CAPC (Center for Academic and Professional Communication).
- Proof of paid $300 J-1 EV Rice central administrative fee, if paid by the academic department. To make payments, visit https://signup.rice.edu/JScholarFee/ or submit an IDT to 10.00100.100.000000.5952.100.9999.9999.999.999 (if electronic, please select Crystal Davis or Flor Garcia as approver)
- 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.
- Sending the DS-2019
Starting April 27, 2023, the Department of State has given institutions permission to issue and send the DS-2019s electronically. Therefore, once ready, the DS-2019 will be emailed to the scholar from OISS. In addition to the DS-2019, the electronic packets will also include:
• 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 United States. 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 possibly an updated printout from Person Management in iO).
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 United States. Keep these items in your carry-on luggage. Do not pack them in your checked bags.
Your official Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record will be issued electronically. You should visit the CBP website to download or 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 check-in 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
- Printout of the action submitted in iO to update the projected end date that reflects the extension (not needed for unpaid positions processed through the Visitor Management System)
- Updated funding in the amount of $2300/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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Meeting with an OISS Advisor
Please see https://oiss.rice.edu/appointment.
- Cultural Activities
Make sure to read 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://bit.ly/OISSdeparture.
- 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 that 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 United States. 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.