Exchange Visitor (J-1) Program

The Exchange Visitor (J-1) Program was established by the U.S. Government to allow scholars from other countries to come to the U.S. to participate in educational and cultural programs. The objective of the Exchange Visitor 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.

Prospective scholars to UCLA will receive J-1 visa status for their programs. This population may include the following UCLA appointments:  Postdoctoral Scholars, Visiting Scholars, Lecturers, Teachers, Visiting Student Researchers, and Staff Research Assistants. Accompanying dependents (spouse and unmarried children of 21 years of age or younger) will obtain J-2 visa status.

All U.S. visitors holding J-1 visa status are referred to as Exchange Visitors (EV). 

Exchange Visitor (J-1) Unit Contact Email: dcissj1unit@saonet.ucla.edu

J-1 Visa Categories

Exchange Visitors who are scholars fall under one of five categories: Short Term Scholar; Research Scholar; Professor; Specialist; Non-Degree Student. Category descriptions and maximum length of stay allowed for each category are provided below:

Professor

Primary Activity at UCLA/Eligibility:  An individual whose primary activity is teaching, lecturing, observing or consulting on non-tenure track appointments. Participation in Departmental research is allowed. MA/MS required.

Length of Stay:  Maximum 5 years. Includes time spent at another institution on J-1 status. No extension of stay allowed beyond 5 years.

Bars: If they had completed a previous Exchange Visitor (J-1) program in the U.S under the Professor or Research Scholar category, they are subject to a 24-month bar (gap) to start a new Exchange Visitor (J-1) program under the Professor or Research Scholar category. 

Study Restrictions: May engage in temporary/incidental study only. Degree objective programs are not permitted.

Research Scholar

Primary Activity at UCLA/Eligibility:  An individual whose primary activity is conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project under the supervision of a UCLA faculty. Generally holds a Post-Doctoral position or Visiting Scholar appointments. MA/MS required or equivalent.

Length of Stay:  Maximum 5 years. Includes time spent at another institution on J-1 status. No extension of stay allowed beyond 5 years.

Bars: If they had completed a previous Exchange Visitor (J-1) program in the U.S under the Professor or Research Scholar category, they are subject to a 24-month bar (gap) to start a new Exchange Visitor (J-1) program under the Professor or Research Scholar category. 

Study Restrictions: May engage in temporary/incidental study only. Degree objective programs are not permitted.

Short-Term Scholar

Primary Activity at UCLA/Eligibility:  A professor, researcher, or person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the U.S. on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills. This category includes speakers at Conferences receiving an honorarium from UCLA. MA/MS required or equivalent.

Length of Stay:  Maxi­mum 6 months. No extension of stay allowed beyond 6 months.

Study Restrictions: May engage in temporary/incidental study only. Degree objective programs are not permitted.

Specialist

Primary Activity at UCLA/Eligibility:  An individual who is an expert in a specialized field of knowledge or skill coming to the U.S. for observing, consulting, or demonstrating special skills. Examples include visiting artists and musicians. Short-Term Scholars, Research Scholars and Professors are not considered specialists for the purpose of this category.

Length of Stay:  Maximum 1 year. No extension of stay allowed beyond 1 year.

Student Non-Degree

Primary Activity at UCLA/Eligibility:  An individual attending UCLA for a prescribed program of academic activity which does not lead to a degree from UCLA.  This category applies to visiting student researchers (e.g. VGRs). 

Length of Stay:  Maximum 2 years. No extension of stay allowed beyond 2 years.


Financial Support

At the time of processing the DS-2019 form, the scholar must present evidence of financial support for the duration of the period stated on the DS-2019 form. Minimum required financial support is given below:


  • Scholar: $26,968 per year / $2247 per month

  • Spouse: $6,000 per year / $500 per month

  • Each Child: $2,667 per year / $222 per month

    These amounts include mandatory health insurance and allowance for supplies. Amount is subject to change.

    Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

    This is a condition attached to some Exchange Visitors (EVs) who receive J visa status under the following circumstances:

    • the Exchange Visitor received funds from the U.S. government, his/her own government, or an international organization funded by government;

    • the education, training, or skills that the Exchange Visitor is pursuing in the U.S. appear on the Exchange Visitor Skills List for his/her country published by the Department of State.

    • Foreign medical graduates receiving training in the U.S. under the sponsorship of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

    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. 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. 

    DCISS cannot extend a DS-2019 if an EV’s waiver application is approved by the Department of State or USCIS.

    24-month and 12-month Research Scholar / Professor Bar

    24-month Research Scholar / Professor Bar:  J-1 Exchange Visitors (and their J-2 dependents) in the Professor or Research Scholar category are subject to the 24-month bar. This means that the EV will not be able to begin a new J-1 program as Professor or Research Scholar until 24 months after their current Professor or Research Scholar Program ends.

    12-month Research Scholar/ Professor Bar:  J-1 Exchange Visitors (and their J-2 dependents) in any J-1 category other than Professor or Research Scholar (e.g. Degree Student, Student Non-degree) for more than 6 months are subject to the 12-month bar. This means that the EV will not be able to begin a new J-1 program as Professor or Research Scholar until 12 months after their current J-1 program ends.

    Exceptions to this rule exist for those Exchange Visitors who are transferring programs or who have been present in J status in the Short-Term Scholar category.

    Other bars include:

    3-month Short-term Scholar Bar: J-1 Exchange Visitors at UCLA in the Professor or Research Scholar category are subject to the 3-month bar. This means that the EV will not be able to begin a new J-1 program at UCLA as Short-term Scholar until 3 months after their current Professor or Research Scholar Program ends.  EV will also need to demonstrate that objectives under Short-term Scholar program will not be a continuation of previous program. A new subject of activity is required.

    1-month bar: There must be at least a 1 month gap between any J-1 categories. 

    Business/Tourist Visa (B1/B2) vs. Exchange Visitor (J1) Visa

    On select cases where the visitor is invited to come to UCLA as a speaker or will be attending a meeting, interview, conference or workshop for a duration of 3 weeks or less, the B1/B2/WB/WT visa may be an option. With regards to payment eligibility under B-1 visa, contact UCLA payroll for restrictions and limitations.

    A tourist visa (B1/B2/WB/WT) status may be, at first glance, thought as appropriate for certain visitors who are invited to UCLA. These visits can be short in duration, the visitor may not be paid, and they will not have a formal appointment at the university. However, if the university is benefiting from the visit, if equipment and facilities used are owned or operated by the university, the contents of the visit and/or research activity undertaken might result in the form of published work, patent or discovery at a later date, and/or the visitor is involved in a formally structured program, use of B1/B2/WB/WT visa will contradict U.S. Department of State guidelines. In such cases a J-1 visa would be the appropriate visa status. The Department of State has made clear that any visitor to a U.S. academic institution who engages in a collaborative activity or research, and whose activity will benefit the hosting institution should be sponsored for a J-1 visa.

    Exchange Visitors to UCLA School of Medicine

    UCLA School of Medicine Visa and Licensing Office processes J-1 DS-2019 requests for visitors in the School of Medicine and other affiliated hospitals.

    English Proficiency

    Department sponsors need to determine English proficiency for J-1 Scholars in one of 5 ways:

    • A UCLA recognized English language test;

    • Certification by home academic institution where English is used;

    • Certification by English Language School where English training was completed within the past 2 years;

    • Copy of signed diploma or signed transcript from U.S. universities or universities in countries where English is the native language; or

    • A documented interview conducted by the UCLA faculty advisor either in-person or by videoconferencing, or by telephone if videoconferencing is not a viable option.

    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.

    J-2 Dependent Resources

    About the J-2 Visa - U.S. Department of State Website

    UCLA Connect: A Network for Relocated Spouses and Partners - The group has a weekly meeting on Fridays at 11 am at the UCLA Dashew Center and events such as happy hours to workshops, throughout the year!

    I-765, Application for Employment Authorization - The spouse or unmarried child (under 21 years of age) of an Exchange Visitor holding a valid J-2 visa status may work in the United States with authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Applications must be sent to the USCIS Service Center.

    J-2 Employment Guidelines