Maintaining J-1 & J-2 Compliance

J-1 duration
J-1 extensions
Changes to J-1 programs
Incident reporting
Health insurance
Travel abroad & reentry to the U.S.
Reporting new home addresses
Nonimmigrant intent


J-1 duration

Exchange visitors (EVs) and J-2 dependents must comply with UH policies, rules and procedures and applicable state and federal laws for the entire time their programs are active. EVs must continually pursue their program objectives and may only conduct the program activities specified on their invitation letter and authorized on their Forms DS-2019.

Generally, an EV may stay in the U.S. in J-1 status for the period stated on the current DS-2019 plus an additional 30-day “grace period.” The EV may not conduct exchange program activities during the grace period. If an EV needs more time to achieve the program objectives, the UH sponsoring unit must submit a DS-2019 extension request to FSIS in a timely manner. Extensions may be granted up to the following program maximum limits, which differ by EV category:

  • Professor: 5 years
  • Research scholar: 5 years
  • Short-term scholars: 6 months
  • Specialist: 1 year

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J-1 extensions

If a faculty sponsor wishes to extend an exchange visitor’s (EV’s) program, the faculty sponsor should submit a DS-2019 extension request to FSIS no later than 45 days prior to the current DS-2019 end date. The faculty sponsor should work with the department to complete the following steps:

1 The UH department determines extension eligibility.

An extension is possible if:

  • The maximum limit for the specific EV category has not been exhausted;
  • Proof of adequate funding for the full extension period can be provided;
  • The EV is in good standing and is progressing satisfactorily in the program;
  • The program has not been ceased or interrupted;
  • The end date on the current DS-2019 has not yet passed; and
  • The EV has not been terminated from the program.
2 The UH department initiates a DS-2019 extension request.

The UH department prepares the DS-2019 Extension Request Form and its portion of the attachments and then sends the request packet to the HR specialist for the college/school/unit.

3 The HR specialist reviews the DS-2019 request and attaches documents.

The HR specialist reviews the request packet, adds any remaining documents, and forwards the complete request to an International Scholar Specialist at FSIS, PSB 102-106.

4 FSIS processes the request and sends the DS-2019 and other documents to the HR specialist.

FSIS reviews the packet and may seek clarifying information and/or additional documents. If the program activities, dates, funding, and other terms appear appropriate, FSIS issues extension DS-2019s for the EV and each J-2 dependent, attaches important information for them to read, and sends all documents to the department via the HR specialist.

5 The college/school/unit/department gives the DS-2019 and other documents to the EV.

The department gives the extension DS-2019s and other documents to the EV. The EV and J-2 spouse should sign their own DS-2019s and write in the location (i.e. city, state/province, and country) and date. J-2 children over 16 years of age should sign their own DS-2019s; the EV should sign DS-2019s issued for J-2 children under 16.

6 The EV or department sends copies of the signed DS-2019s and health insurance documentation to FSIS.

The EV or sponsoring department sends copies of the signed DS-2019s along with proof of extended health insurance coverage (if necessary) to FSIS so we can update our records.

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Changes to J-1 programs

If any changes to an exchange visitor’s (EV’s) program will take place, the department must notify FSIS immediately. In some cases, we will need to update the EV’s DS-2019 and may need certain documents from the department to make the revisions.

Additional sites of activities

EVs are required to report all sites of activities during their J-1 EVP. This includes all off-campus sites, conferences, and/or workshops. EVs and/or faculty sponsors can notify our office via email with the following information:

  • Conference/Workshop title
  • Conference/Workshop dates
  • Physical location of the conference/workshop (street number and name, city, state, zip code)
  • Purpose of conference/workshop

Work authorization for occasional lectures or consultations

EVs are expected to primarily conduct their activities within a UH department at a UH site and may receive compensation from UH when the activities are part of the EV’s program. However, EVs in the professor and research scholar categories may conduct occasional lectures or short-term consultations for non-UH entities as long as they receive prior authorization from FSIS. To receive wages or other remuneration, the EV must act as an independent contractor for the external organization. If the EV engages in unauthorized employment, this will constitute a violation of status and they will be subject to termination from the Exchange Visitor Program.

FSIS may grant authorization to an EV if the occasional lecture or short-term consultation will:

  • Be directly related to the objectives of the EV’s program;
  • Be incidental to the EV’s primary program activities; and
  • Not delay the program completion date.

Before beginning the activity, the department must submit the following documents to an International Scholar Specialist at FSIS, PSB 102-106.

  • A letter from the external organization that states the duration, number of hours, subject matter, amount of compensation, and description of the activity; and
  • A letter from the EV’s faculty sponsor recommending the activity, discussing how the activity would enhance the EV’s program, confirming that the activity is directly related and incidental to the program, and affirming that the activity will not delay the program end date.

FSIS will review both letters to determine whether the proposed activity may be authorized. If the activity is appropriate, we will issue the department a written authorization, which must be presented to the external organization before the EV can begin participating in the activity.

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Incident Reporting

The  Office of Private Sector Exchange Administration Academic and Government Programs (OPA-AG) monitors and enforces full compliance with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) regulations and policies with a focus on EVs’ health, safety, and well-being; and responds to complaints and incidents.

EV, faculty sponsors, and/or departments must notify FSIS of any serious problems or controversies involving or impacting our EVs within 24 hours. Such problems or controversies may include, but are not limited to:

  • EV death
  • EV missing
  • EV serious illness or injury (e.g., brain injury, severe burn, major surgery, communicable disease, serious mental health incidents, any condition requiring hospitalization of 48 hours or more, etc.)
  • Litigation (related to UH’s EVP, in which UH or an EV may be a named party)
  • Lost or stolen immigration documents (i.e., passport and visa)
  • Incident involving the criminal justice system (e.g., arrest, DUI charges, law enforcement, etc.)
  • Theft of intellectual property or violations of export controls
  • Sexually-related incidents or abuse (an incident or allegations involving sexual exploitation, harassment or abuse)
  • Negative press involving the UH’s EVP
  • Foreign government involvement (including embassy officials)
  • Other situations impacting EV safety (e.g., natural disasters, civil unrest, outbreaks of violence)

Click here for more information on Incident Reporting.

If you are not sure whether a controversy is “serious” enough, please err on the side of caution and report it to an International Scholar Specialist.

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Health insurance

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) requires exchange visitors (EVs) and their J-2 dependents to maintain minimum coverage levels of health insurance as long as their programs are active. Each EV and J-2 dependent must enroll in an insurance plan or policy that:

  • Provides medical benefits of at least US$100,000 per accident or illness;
  • Provides at least US$25,000 for repatriation of remains to the home country in the event of death;
  • Provide at least US$50,000 in medical evacuation coverage to the home country in the event of serious illness or injury upon a doctor’s recommendation;
  • Requires a deductible of no more than US$500 per accident or illness;
  • May establish a reasonable waiting period before pre-existing conditions (health problems the person had before buying the insurance) are covered – “reasonable” is defined by current insurance industry standards;
  • May include co-insurance provisions, but must pay at least 75% of covered medical expenses;
  • Does not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which the EV participates; and
  • Is guaranteed through one of the following means: (1) underwritten by a health insurance corporation rated “A–” or above by A.M. Best, “A–” or above by McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying Ability, “B+” or above by Weiss Research, Inc., “A–” or above by Fitch Ratings, Inc., “A3” or above by Moody’s Investor Services, or other DOS-specified rating; (2) backed by the full faith and credit of the EV’s home country’s government; (3) is part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor; or (4) offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified HMO or eligible Competitive Medical Plan as determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

How to choose an insurance policy/plan

Medical treatment in the U.S. can be very expensive. Depending on the severity of a person’s illness or injury, a visit to a doctor or hospital can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. It is each person’s (and not the U.S. government’s) responsibility to pay for health care. Therefore, rather than choosing the least expensive plan that meets the DOS requirements, it is advisable for EVs to select a quality plan that will provide adequate coverage for their medical needs.

First, the EV should contact a few different insurance providers for premium quotes and to compare plans. The EV should feel free to ask the insurance representatives any questions and take the time to learn about each plan before making a decision. If the EV is uncertain or confused, they should not purchase anything until they fully understand the options. If needed, the EV may want to consult with a knowledgeable friend or the faculty sponsor for help.

The EV may choose to enroll in the UH Student Health Insurance Plan through HMSA. Although enrollment in this plan is on the more expensive end, it provides very comprehensive coverage, which greatly limits the amount of money the EV would need to pay out of pocket for medical care. Another option is to choose a pre-screened plan or any other plan that meets DOS’s requirements. The EV may also contact a NAFSA-suggested health insurance company that regularly assists international scholars. If an EV already has a primary plan that is missing the repatriation and medical evacuation coverage, they will only need to purchase a separate repatriation and medical evacuation plan that provides the necessary coverage.

Once the EV purchases a plan, the insurance company will issue a card for the individuals covered under the policy. This card should be presented when one of the covered individuals goes to a hospital or doctor for medical treatment.

How health insurance works

After enrolling in a health insurance plan, the EV will make regular payments to the insurance company – these payments are called the “premiums.” The premiums from everyone enrolled in the plan are combined to form a pool of money. That money is used by the insurance company to pay the medical bills of the plan participants who need medical treatments. A person’s insurance coverage will continue only as long as the premiums are paid.

If the EV or a family member needs to go to the doctor for medical treatment, they should present the insurance card at the appointment. After the appointment, the person will usually need to pay the bill and then seek reimbursement from the insurance company, which is called “filing a claim,” by providing documentation for qualifying medical expenses. The company will evaluate the claim and pay the person the appropriate amount as determined under the particular policy. In some cases, the person will not need to file a claim and will only need to pay the co-payment to the doctor, who will bill the insurance company for the rest of the costs.

Providing health insurance documentation to FSIS

As a condition of participating in UH’s Exchange Visitor Program, each EV and J-2 dependent must maintain the DOS-required insurance coverage for the entire duration of sponsorship. Whenever EVs purchase or extend health insurance coverage, they must submit a signed Health Insurance Compliance Form and the applicable type of evidence of coverage to an International Scholar Specialist at FSIS, PSB 102-106. 

Type of insurance Plan
Documentation
UH Student Health Insurance Plan No documentation needed. FSIS will confirm enrollment with the UH Student Health Insurance Coordinator.
Pre-screened plan Enrollment confirmation email or letter from the insurance company showing the following information:

  • Insurance company’s name;
  • EV’s name;
  • Each J-2 dependent’s name (if applicable);
  • Plan type; and
  • Coverage start and end dates.
UH EUTF plans (employees only)
Proof of enrollment in a repatriation and medical evacuation plan (see a few options). Documentation must show the following:

  • Insurance company’s name;
  • EV’s name;
  • Each J-2 dependent’s name (if applicable);
  • Dollar amounts of coverage; and
  • Coverage start and end dates.

No EUTF plan documentation is needed. FSIS will confirm EUTF enrollment with the HR specialist.

Any other plan not listed above Health Insurance Provider Certification Form signed by a representative of the insurance company or a signed letter from the insurance company printed on letterhead that includes the following:

  • Statement certifying the plan meets the DOS requirements;
  • EV’s name;
  • Each J-2 dependent’s name (if applicable);
  • Plan type; and
  • Coverage start and end dates.

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)

The PPACA, often referred to as the “Affordable Care Act” (ACA), is a U.S. federal law intended to provide individuals with increased access to higher quality and lower cost health insurance through subsidies, exchanges, and the establishment of minimum coverage standards. It includes the Individual Shared Responsibility Provision, which requires each person who is subject to the ACA to comply with one of the following: (1) have qualifying health coverage (minimum essential coverage); (2) qualify for a health coverage exemption; or (3) make a shared responsibility payment when filing a federal income tax return.

EVs and their J-2 dependents who file tax returns as resident aliens may be subject to the ACA. If they do not qualify for one of the exemptions from the Individual Shared Responsibility Provision, they will need to either purchase an ACA-compliant insurance plan or make a Shared Responsibility payment. EVs and J-2s who determine they are nonresident aliens for tax purposes are not subject to the ACA. To determine whether they are resident or nonresident aliens, they should apply the Substantial Presence Test.

For more information on the ACA, see the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Care website.

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Travel abroad & reentry to the U.S.

Before an exchange visitor (EV) or J-2 dependent leaves the U.S. on a temporary trip abroad, they should review the immigration requirements for the countries they will visit to ensure the necessary visas and/or immunizations have been obtained. The EV or dependent must also have an unexpired FSIS travel validation on their DS-2019 to return to the U.S. in J-1/J-2 status. Travel validations are good for one year or until the DS-2019 expires (whichever date comes earlier).

If an EV will travel outside the U.S. for a long period (more than 30 days), the J-2 dependents must also depart the U.S. J-2 dependents’ legal status in the U.S. is only valid as long as the EV continues to pursue the program objectives in the U.S. J-2 dependents cannot remain alone in the U.S. for an extended period.

Departments must follow these procedures at least two weeks prior to the departure date to obtain DS-2019 travel validations for EVs and J-2 dependents:

1 The faculty sponsor issues the EV a letter of good standing.

The faculty sponsor confirms the EV is in good standing in the program by writing a short letter on UH letterhead. The letter may be addressed “To Whom It May Concern” and must include:

  • A statement that the EV is in good standing;
  • The country the EV (and/or J-2) will visit;
  • The reason for the trip (e.g. business, vacation, etc.); and
  • The travel dates. (Tentative dates are fine.)

If an EV who is in the research scholar or professor category will be outside the U.S. for more than 30 days and will continue conducting program activities during that time, the faculty sponsor must sign off on a completed Out of Country Request Form. This form will enable the EV to keep the program active while they are abroad for a long term.

2 The department/HR specialist submits the original DS-2019 and copy of good standing letter to FSIS.

The EV keeps the original letter of good standing, but submits a copy of the letter and the original DS-2019 to the department/HR specialist. If applicable, the EV should also submit the signed Out of Country Request Form with these documents. The department/HR specialist sends all documents to an International Scholar Specialist at FSIS, PSB 102-106. 

If J-2 dependents are traveling abroad, they should submit a copy of the EV’s letter and their original DS-2019s to the department for FSIS travel validation.

3 FSIS validates the DS-2019 and returns it to the EV through the HR specialist.

FSIS validates the DS-2019, attaches a memo with further instructions, and sends the documents to the EV via the HR specialist.

Travel emergencies

If there is not enough time for an EV to complete the usual travel validation procedures due to an emergency, the original DS-2019 may be left with the faculty sponsor or a trusted colleague and the EV may depart the U.S. immediately. The UH department should work with the faculty sponsor to issue the good standing letter and Out of Country Request Form (if necessary) and send those documents with the original DS-2019 to FSIS for travel validation. After FSIS validates the form, the department should mail all of the documents to the EV in the home country so they can be used for visa application and/or admission to the U.S.

Reentering the U.S.

EVs and J-2 dependents should follow the steps below to return to the U.S. in J-1/J-2 status:

1 Apply for J-1 or J-2 visa(s).

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda or persons who qualify for automatic visa revalidation may skip this step and proceed to “2. Apply for J-1/J-2 admission at a U.S. port of entry” below.

An EV who already has a J-1 visa issued for the current UH program and that will be valid on the date of arrival in the U.S. does not need to apply for a new one and may also proceed to “2. Apply for J-1/J-2 admission at a U.S. port of entry” below. The same principle applies to J-2 dependents with valid UH J-2 visas.

Citizens of all other countries and persons who do not qualify for automatic visa revalidation must obtain the appropriate visa at the nearest U.S. embassy/consulate before they can enter the U.S. The EV must apply for a J-1 visa; accompanying family members must obtain J-2 visas.

To apply for a J-1/J-2 visa, the EV/dependent should visit the U.S. Department of State’s U.S. embassies and consulates website to view the visa application requirements and to make an appointment for a visa interview. It is best to try to apply at the U.S. embassy/consulate having jurisdiction over the place of residence, though they may apply at any U.S. embassies/consulates worldwide that permit third country nationals’ applications. Anyone who was ever a visa overstay in the U.S. must apply for the visa at a consular office in their country of nationality.

J-1 and J-2 visa application requirements differ by embassy/consulate, so the EV should check directly with the specific U.S. embassy/consulate on the requirements for the visa application if there are any questions. The EV and J-2 dependents should apply for their visas as soon as possible because it may take awhile for the consulate to issue the visas. All visa applications undergo a security check and some may require a more extensive security clearance that may take several weeks.

Generally, all J-1 and J-2 visa applications must include:

  • DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application confirmation page;
  • Visa interview appointment confirmation page;
  • Proof of payment of visa fees;
  • A passport-style photograph that meets DOS’s nonimmigrant visa photo requirements;
  • A valid, unexpired passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the DS-2019 end date;
  • Original Form DS-2019 issued and validated by FSIS;
  • Invitation letter from UH sponsoring unit;
  • Letter of good standing from the faculty sponsor;
  • Evidence of financial support, such as letters or documents proving receipt of a fellowship, grant, salary from employer in the home country, bank statements, or affidavits of support; and
  • Any other documents required by the specific U.S. embassy or consulate.

When the EV and family members receive their visas, the consular officer should return the original DS-2019s and other documents to them.

2 Apply for J-1/J-2 admission at a U.S. port of entry.

The EV must enter the U.S. on or up to 30 days before the start date on the DS-2019. If an EV cannot enter the U.S. on time, the department or HR specialist must notify FSIS immediately so we have enough time to change the start date in SEVIS and issue a new DS-2019. If an EV is unable to come to UH for any reason, the DS-2019s for the EV and any J-2 dependents must be returned to FSIS.

The EV and each accompanying J-2 family members must present these documents to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at a U.S. port of entry to apply for admission:

  • Original DS-2019;
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months after the DS-2019 end date;
  • J-1 or J-2 visa in passport (N/A for Canadians and Bermudians); and
  • Faculty sponsor’s letter of good standing for the EV and/or J-1 dependents.

Individuals are not guaranteed entry to the U.S. The CBP officer will review all documents and ask each person about the purpose of the visit. These officers have the discretion to admit an EV in J-1 status and any family members in J-2 status and may refer them to a more detailed secondary inspection.

When the EV is admitted into the U.S., all documents should be returned and an admission date stamp should be placed in their passport with the notations “J-1” (EV) or “J-2” (dependents) and “D/S,” which stands for “duration of status” and indicates the person is authorized to stay in the U.S. according to the DS-2019 presented. The CBP officer should instruct each person to access and print an I-94 arrival record on CBP’s I-94 website. The admission stamp with notations and the I-94 printout are proof of admission to and legal immigration status in the U.S. In some cases, a person may be issued a paper I-94 card at entry, but CBP is phasing those out. If anyone is issued a paper I-94, that card is evidence of legal status in the U.S.

EVs and J-2 family members should keep copies of their DS-2019s, passport biodata/expiration pages, visas, admission stamps, and I-94 records permanently in case any of these documents are lost or stolen.

3 Send copies of entry documents to FSIS.

After the EV or J-2 dependent is readmitted into the U.S., send the following documents to fsis@hawaii.edu so we can update our records and check their admission:

  • Copy of I-94 from CBP’s I-94 website;
  • Copy of admission stamp with notations in passport;
  • Copy of J-1/J-2 visa in passport; and
  • Copy of passport biodata page (if new/renewed).

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Reporting new home addresses

Exchange visitors (EVs) and J-2 dependents are required to notify FSIS and the UH department within 10 days of moving to a new home address. FSIS will report the new address to the U.S. Department of State by updating the EV’s record in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

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Nonimmigrant intent

Built into the Exchange Visitor Program is the idea that exchange visitors (EVs) will return to their home countries after completing their programs to carry out the exchange of knowledge, skills, and ideas they acquired in the U.S. Moreover, at the time of applying for a J-1 or J-2 visa or entry to the U.S., EVs and their dependents must overcome the presumption of immigrant intent — that is, they must establish “nonimmigrant intent.” Each person will need to demonstrate the intent to leave the U.S. at the end of the J-1 program. The filing of an immigrant petition or permanent labor certification application on the person’s behalf may cause the denial of a J visa or entry to the U.S. In some cases, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have taken into account other factors, such as the maintenance of a residence in the U.S., acceptance of a tenure-track position, and a long history of working in the U.S.

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