J-1 Visa Overview
In October 2014, the United States Department of State announced changes to J-1 regulations, meant to better protect program participants, which will be implemented in two phases starting on January 5, 2015. Changes include new reporting requirements, an objective measurement of English Language Proficiency, and new insurance coverage amounts. Click here for a summary of the changes that will directly affect J-1 holders.
The Exchange Visitor Program was established by the U.S. Government to facilitate the visitors from other countries to come to the U.S. to participate in Educational and Cultural programs. The objective of the program is to increase mutual understanding between the citizens of the U.S. and the Exchange Visitors’ countries. The visitors may participate in studies, research, teaching, or receive training. Universities, research institutes, and organizations can be recognized by the U.S. Department of State as Exchange Visitor Program Sponsors.
Exchange Visitors will get the J-1 visa from their program sponsors. Accompanying dependents (spouse and unmarried children of 21 years of age or younger) will get J-2 visa status. UCLA offers J-1 status for the following categories:
Dashew Center will issue a DS2019 form "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status" which the prospective visitor takes to a US Embassy/Consulate to apply for J-1 visa.
At the time of processing the DS2019 form, the EV must present evidence of financial support for the duration of the period stated in the DS2019 form. Minimum required financial support is given below:
A DS2019 form is required 1) to obtain a J-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad, 2) to extend the stay in the U.S., 3) to transfer from another institution to UCLA and 4) to change visa status from another non-immigrant visa, such as B-1 or F-1, to the J status. The U.S. Department of State monitors the Exchange Visitor Program; compliance with the regulations and purpose of the program rests with the DCISS.
For prospective visiting researchers who are currently pursuing a degree abroad and have not yet completed their PhD studies, UCLA departments must first contact UCLA Graduate Division or the Undergraduate Research Center for guidelines, eligibility requirements, and application procedures
For visitors through the Education Abroad Program (EAP), departments need to contact the Universitywide Office of EAP.
UCLA School of Medicine Visa and Licensing Office processes J-1 visas for visitors to the School of Medicine and other affiliated hospitals.
The arrival of a newly admitted UCLA J-1 scholar/student must be updated in SEVIS. This process is called ‘validation’ and must be completed within 30 days of the starting date stated on Box #3 on the DS2019 form. In order to do this, the Exchange Visitor is required to check-in with DCISS upon arrival to UCLA. Failure to validate one’s arrival will result in automatic termination of their J-1 status in the SEVIS system. Exchange Visitors are required to bring the following documents to DCISS:
The following time slots are designated for the validation of arrival at DCISS:
An Exchange Visitor on J-1 visa status needs a valid passport, a valid visa stamp (except when returning from Mexico, Canada or adjacent islands after a trip lasting no longer than 30 days) and a valid DS2019 form with a travel validation signature to re-enter the U.S. after a trip abroad. In order to obtain a travel validation signature, the Exchange Visitor must fill out the Travel Request Form, to be turned in at DCISS with original DS2019 form at least a week prior to leaving the U.S.
Automatic Visa Revalidation allows J-1 holders to enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, or one of the adjacent islands to the U.S. (other than Cuba) on an expired J-1 visa if the trip is not exceeding 30 days. If you meet one of the following criteria, you will NOT be able to use the automatic revalidation rule.
An EV can apply for extension of stay if he/she will continue with same research or study program. A DS2019 Request Form must be submitted to DCISS at least 30 days prior to the expiration of the DS-2019. DCISS approves extension of stay only for EVs whose I-94 forms show "D/S" as ending date of authorized stay. If I-94 does not show “D/S” or indicate a date, EV must contact DCISS immediately. Extension beyond the maximum duration of EV category is not possible.
Note: Any EV who was admitted as a Visiting Graduate Researcher (VGR) must first contact their academic department to request an appointment extension with Graduate Division.
Title 22CFR62.14 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations governing Exchange Visitor Programs requires that the exchange visitor obtain health, accident, medical evacuation and repatriation of remains insurance. The insurance policies must cover the exchange visitor and all accompanying dependents for the EV’s entire duration in the U.S. starting with the date of arrival and ending with the date of departure. Any exchange visitor who willfully refuses to comply with this requirement shall be considered to be in violation of his/her exchange visitor status. The program sponsor is obligated to inform the United States Department of State of the exchange visitor's noncompliance.
J-1 visitors at UCLA (other than those visitors who fall under the designated groups below) are required to enroll OR opt out of the Visiting Scholar Injury and Sickness Insurance Plan (VSISP) through Garnett-Powers & Associates. In order to opt out of the VSISP plan, J-1 visitors are required to show proof of health insurance with the following minimum coverage:
Information regarding eligibility, requirements, enrollment and the waiver approval process can be found on the Garnett-Powers site at
VSISP enrollment confirmation will be sent to the J-1 visitor by email. Visitor must print and bring for check-in.
Those approved for the waiver, must bring their waiver confirmation and proof of medical insurance used to waive.
(A) Postdoctoral Scholars
(B) Degree, EAP, UCLA Exchange (IEO) students
(C) UCLA Staff & Faculty
Exchange Visitor must verify with their department administrator whether this coverage is included in their plan. Medical evacuation and repatriation of remains coverage may be purchased separately through A-G Administrators, Inc. Click here for information regarding eligibility, requirements, and enrollment process.
If you are not sure of which category above you fall into, please contact your department for clarification.
Department sponsors need to determine English proficiency for J-1 Scholars and Students in one of 3 ways:
The Certification of English Language Proficiency form must be included with all NEW and TRANSFER DS-2019 Requests. English Certification is not required for EXTENSION requests. An applicant whose first language is English and is a citizen of a country in which English is the primary spoken language of daily life (e.g., Australia, Barbados, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, United Kingdom) is exempt from this requirement.
This is a condition attached to some Exchange Visitors (EVs) who get J visa status under the following circumstances:
EVs who become subject to the Two-year Home Residence Requirement are not eligible to change their visa status from J-1 to H (temporary worker), L (intra-company transferee), or an immigrant visa ("green card"), unless they return and reside in the country of their last permanent residence for two years after completing their programs in the U.S.
EVs who become subject, but do not wish to comply with the residence requirement may apply for a waiver from the U.S. Department of State during or after the completion of the program.
Note: Information and guidelines are available at www.state.gov. DCISS will not be involved with the process of waiver application of EVs in any form. If an EV’s waiver application is approved by the Department of State or USCIS, DCISS will no longer issue a DS-2019 extension for a current EV.
In compliance with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the EV is required to have a valid address during their studies/research. DHS may terminate EV immigration status automatically if he/she does not maintain their address information with UCLA in this proper format. While holding a UCLA-sponsored J-1 visa, the EV is required to provide the University the following addresses and, if a student, keep them up to date through URSA at
The DCISS will update the SEVIS system with the EV address. EV may email new address to a J Visa staff member or fill out a Travel Validation & Address Change Request Form at DCISS.
Spouse and minor unmarried children under the age of 21 years will get J-2 visa status. They may accompany the J-1 Exchange Visitor or join the EV at a later date.
All J-2 visa holders are eligible (subject to any existing labor regulations) to apply for a work permit in the U.S. The J-2 holder must apply for a work permit through USCIS. DCISS is not involved in the J-2 work permit procedure. If permission is granted, the J-2 person may work anywhere in the U.S., for any number of hours, in any occupation, and at any wage/salary rate. Employers must deduct Social Security tax from his/her earnings. Guidelines are provided here.
Upon completion of EV program, the exchange visitor does not need to inform DCISS of their departure unless he/she plans to leave earlier than 30 days prior to the expiration date on their DS2019. The EV is allowed an additional 30-day grace period to prepare for their departure from the U.S. During this grace period, employment or study is not allowed. Upon departure of the U.S. within these 30 days, the J Visa status automatically expires and you will not be able to re-enter the country to reclaim the rest of your grace period time.
For more detailed information regarding J-1 Visa Regulations and other practical matters please read the Exchange Visitor (J-1) Regulations Handbook
DS-2019 Request Form
DS-2019 Request Form Instructions
Travel Validation & Address Change Request Form
J-2 Employment Guidelines