J-1 Exchange Visitors

Prospective J-1 Visa Exchange Visitors 

You begin the process by contacting the Texas A&M University or Texas A&M University System member department of interest. International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) will only accept J-1 requests directly from sponsoring departments. If your invitation request is approved and the host department generates an invitation letter, the department will request and collect all requisite documents and information from you and forward your invitation packet to our office. Once your request is approved by our office, we will process your initial Form DS-2019 and will mail the form along with important information to the address you will provide on the nonimmigration questionnaire. The form DS-2019 or “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status” is the basic document used in the administration of the exchange visitor program. This form will allow you to seek an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad in order to obtain a J visa to enter the U.S. The form will contain your biographical information and information about your designated sponsor or host department. The DS-2019 also provides a short description of the exchange visitor’s program, including the start and end date, category of exchange, and an estimate cost of the program. Note that the issuance of the J visa is at the discretion of Consular Officers at U.S. embassies and consulates.

It is important that you provide up-to-date documents, i.e., valid passports, etc. All documentation should be gathered according to the checklist and then forwarded by the hosting department to International Student and Scholar Services. Exchange Visitors participating in the Research Scholar, Short-Term Scholar and Professor categories should refer to the Documentation Checklist for J-1 Scholars. If you will be visiting as a Student Intern, refer to the Documentation Checklist for J-1 Student Interns.
ISSS charges a $350 operational fee to support the services our office provides to sponsor and host J-1 exchange visitors at Texas A&M University. Our office charges this one-time fee for all new approved J-1 requests. The fee will not apply to J-1 program extensions or J-2 dependents. If you come as an employee (on payroll) then the hosting department will pay the fee. If you come as a non-employee, ISSS will charge you the fee unless the hosting department is willing to pay the fee for you. The fee will be collected at the time we approve the request and are ready to issue and send you the form DS-2019.

New J-1 Exchange Visitors 

This information will be mailed to you along with your initial Form DS-2019. The process for applying for a non-immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad varies from country to country and based on individual circumstances. If administrative processing is necessary, the wait time for your visa to be processed could take up to 60 days or longer. For information about specific wait times to receive an interview and for your visa to be processed at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, visit the Department of State’s website.
You are eligible to arrive in the U.S. no earlier than 30 days prior to your program start date as indicated on your DS-2019 form. Upon entry in the U.S., be prepared to present your DS-2019, passport, proof of finances, and any other supporting documents to the Custom and Border Protection officer.

IMPORTANT: If you encounter travel delays and cannot arrive in the U.S. by your program start date, CONTACT OUR OFFICE so we take the necessary actions to keep your SEVIS record Active.
You will receive an email approximately two weeks prior to your program start date with the link to our registration form. You will have the option to check-in remotely via email or in-person. For our J-1 exchange visitors who will be located outside our main College Station campus, you will complete your immigration check-in remotely. 
IMPORTANT: Note that you will not be able to start your research activities at Texas A&M until you check in with our office.
For resources on arriving to the U.S. and settling in the College Station area be sure to visit our Resources page.

Current J-1 Exchange Visitors 

To maintain your lawful J-1 status, it is your personal responsibility to abide and comply with the U.S. federal regulations. Make sure to read the instructions on page 2 of your DS-2019 and follow the guidelines below.
  • Attend a mandatory check-in session at ISSS
  • Report your US residential address changes to ISSS
  • Be employed only iwht authorization from your program sponsor (ISSS)
  • Submit your transfer and extension request to our office at least 15 days prior to your transfer
Before you and your J-2 dependent(s) travel abroad while you are on J status, have your DS-2019 signed for travel validation by an ISSS staff. You and your J-2 dependent(s) must have a valid passport, J-1 visa, and endorsed DS-2019 to reenter the U.S. For more information about travel requirements, visit our international travel page.
Your J-1 status expires when your DS-2019 form expires. Extensions of stay (EOS) are initiated by the host department and forwarded to ISFS.
  • EOS requests should be made at least 30 days before the DS-2019 expires
  • You must provide proof of continued funding and proof of extended health insurance coverage.
  • You must submit a summary of the research projects that you have been working on with your host faculty at TAMU.
You may transfer to another U.S. program sponsor if the purpose of the transfer is to complete the objective for which you were admitted to exchange visitor status and you remain within the same participant category. Plan your transfer in advance to avoid any delays. ISSS will coordinate your transfer with the new institution after you submit a completed Transfer-Out Form.
If you are a current J-1 visitor at a U.S. institution and wish to transfer to TAMU, you will need to contact the hosting department so they can prepare a request for you.
Consider the following visa options when inviting your family to join you in the U.S.:
1. J-2 Visa If your dependents are eligible for J-2 status, ISSS will issue a Form DS-2019 for them so they can apply for a J-2 visa to enter the U.S. J-2 visa holders do not have to pay the SEVIS fee. For ISSS to issue a J-2 DS-2019, you need to submit the following documents to ISFS:
  • Request form for DS-2019s for Dependents
  • Current document showing evidence of funds: $550 per month for the spouse and $300 per month for each child
  • Copy of passport identity page(s)
  • Proof of health insurance for each dependent
  • Copy of marriage license (for spouse)
2. Other Options
If your dependents will be in the U.S. for less than 6 months, a tourist visa may be appropriate. For more information you can visit the Department of State’s page on visitor visas.
Upon completion of your program, you must depart the U.S. within 30 days of your DS-2019 end date. If you complete your program more than 30 days prior to your DS-2019 end date, notify ISSS immediately. All J-1 visitors (professor, scholar, and student intern) must submit a departure notice to our office before completing their J-1 program. Instructions will be sent to you by email the month of your departure.
Many exchange visitors are subject to what is known as the two-year home country residence requirement because of their J-1 status. If you are subject to this requirement, upon completion of your J-1 program in the U.S., you must return to your home country for at least 2 years before you are eligible to change status to an H-1B or apply for permanent residence. You can be subject to this requirement for 3 reasons:
  • Government financing (either foreign or U.S.)
  • Exchange Visitor Skills List (list of critically needed skills by home country)
  • Foreign medical training
 The U.S. Department of State (DOS) in Washington, D.C makes all final determinations regarding the two-year home residence requirement. It is sometimes possible to obtain a waiver of this requirement so that you do not have to spend the 2 years in your home country. It is your responsibility to apply for your waiver. Visit the DOS website for information on waivers and for the datasheet required to begin the waiver process.
If you participate in a J program for more than 6 months, you are not eligible to enter the U.S. as a J-1 Research Scholar for 12 months after completion of your current program.
If you participate in a J program in the Research Scholar or Professor category, you are subject to a 24-month bar on repeat participation in those categories. This bar also applies to J-2 dependents.