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.


Health Insurance


The U.S. Department of State 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 Exchange Visitors at UCLA are required to enroll in one of the following health insurance plans depending on their UCLA appointment title:

(A) Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan (VSBP)

J-1 Exchange Visitors at UCLA such as Visiting Scholars and Visiting Student Researchers (VGRs) are required to enroll in the Visiting Scholar Benefits Plan (VSPB) through Garnett-Powers & Associates. Scholars may begin the enrollment process only after receiving the DS-2019 form. (Postdocs and employees receiving medical benefits through UCLA do not qualify for this plan). 

Information regarding eligibility, requirements, enrollment and the waiver approval process can be found on the Garnett-Powers site at http://clients.garnett-powers.com/vs/ucla/. VSBP enrollment confirmation will be sent to the J-1 visitor by email. Visitor must upload document through the online visa check-in application. Those approved for the waiver of VSBP, must also upload their waiver confirmation and proof of medical insurance they used to waive out of the plan. 

The earliest you can begin the VSBP enrollment or waiver process is 31 days prior to the DS-2019 start date. You must first receive your DS-2019 form before enrolling or waiving.  

(B) Postdoctoral Scholar Benefit Plan (PSBP)

Postdoctoral Scholars are required to enroll in the Postdoctoral Scholar Benefits Plan (PSBP). Information regarding eligibility, requirements, and enrollment process can be found on the Garnett-Powers site at https://clients.garnett-powers.com/pd/uc/Your UCLA academic department will assist you with enrollment when you arrive as part of the hiring process.

(C) UCLA Employee Medical Benefits

Your UCLA academic department will assist you with enrollment when you arrive as part of the hiring process. Medical benefits coverage for UCLA hired staff and faculty do not include the following:

  • repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000

  • expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000

Medical evacuation and repatriation of remains coverage may be purchased separately through BETiNS to fulfill the J-1 visa requirements.

If you are not sure of which category above you fall into, please contact your department for clarification.

Proof of enrollment in a health insurance plan is required for the online J-1 Visa Check-in Application. Refer to the PROOF OF HEALTH INSURANCE SAMPLE GUIDE to find out which types of documents DCISS can accept.

J-2 Dependent Resources


J-2 DS-2019 Request Procedures

Partner & Children's Handbook

J-2 Employment Application Guide

J-2 Employment Quick Guide

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.

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!

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

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 https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/study/exchange/waiver-of-the-exchange-visitor.html. 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.

ALIEN - INDEPENDENT PERSONAL SERVICE PAYMENT ELIGIBILITY BY VISA STATUS

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.