Pre-Arrival Information

Welcome to UCLA! Now that you have received a formal invitation from a UCLA academic department to conduct your program activity, what's next? Navigate this site for assistance on what you must do prior to arriving in the U.S.

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


Step 1: Obtain a UCLA DS-2019 Form


Request fro a UCLA I-20

The UCLA Academic Department that is inviting you is responsible for providing DCISS with the DS-2019 Request Application. Once processed, DCISS will provide the DS-2019 form to the UCLA Academic Department. You will receive the DS-2019 form from the department.

Step 2: Review your UCLA DS-2019

Review your biographical information and program dates (item 3) on your UCLA DS-2019 . Contact DCISS if there are any errors on the form. Sign at the bottom of the DS-2019 form. J-2 Dependents should sign their own DS-2019 forms. Contact DCISS immediately if you are currently in the U.S. 

Step 3: Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee


Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee

You must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee before applying for the J-1 Visa. The fee is $220 and must be paid online at www.FMJfee.com. Print a copy of your payment receipt and have it with you when applying for your J-1 Visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate and when entering the U.S.

Step 4: Apply for a J-1 Visa from a U.S. Embassy/Consulate


If you are outside the U.S. and do not have a valid J-1 Visa, follow the steps below to apply for a J-1 Visa (Canadian citizens are exempt from this step*):

1. Fill out the DS-160 Application, pay the MRV (visa application fee), and schedule your appointment with a U.S. Embassy/Consulate. The fee is generally $160, but there may be additional fees depending on the embassy. Instructions are provided on the U.S. Department of State website

2. Take your UCLA DS-2019, valid passport, SEVIS fee receipt, MRV (visa application) fee receipt, passport style photos (if applicable), evidence of strong ties to your home country, and financial documents to your visa interview appointment. The following are examples of strong ties: proof of close family ties in your home country; proof of ownership of real property including stocks & investments; proof of guaranteed employment in your country or any other document that supports your intent to return home at the conclusion of your activities in the U.S.

If you intend to apply for J-2 Visas for your spouse or children, you must provide evidence of their full names, relationship to you, residence, nationality, and DS-2019s. Allow enough time to apply for the visa because the issuance of visas to some individuals could take longer due to security clearances. For more information about the visa application process, please visit http://travel.state.gov

Please do not purchase plane tickets until you have received your visa. Visa applicants should never assume their application will be automatically approved.

*Please Note: Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa application requirement, but must pay the SEVIS fee, and present their DS-2019 and SEVIS fee payment receipt at the port of entry to the U.S.

Step 5: Arrange 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. 

Do not begin the VSBP enrollment or waiver process until after you have received a DS-2019 from UCLA. 

(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 as part of the mandatory visa check-in session with DCISS. Refer to the PROOF OF HEALTH INSURANCE SAMPLE GUIDE to find out which types of documents DCISS can accept.

Step 6: Begin jPATH Orientation


UCLA jPATH is a mandatory orientation designed to meet U.S. Department of State requirements and to help you adjust to life in the U.S., Los Angeles, and on the UCLA campus. jPATH consists of 4 online video modules: J-1 Visa Workshop, Getting Started at UCLA, Getting Started in Los Angeles, and Cultural Adjustment. There is a mandatory fee of $59 to access jPATH.

Step 7: Prepare for U.S. Entry


Visitors entering the U.S. on J-1 status using an initial DS-2019 form may enter the U.S. up to (but no earlier) than 30 days before the start date on their DS-2019. 

Carry the following documents with you to present to immigration officials when entering the U.S.: DS-2019, passport, financial documents, & SEVIS receipt. Be sure that the immigration officer at the U.S. Port of Entry stamps the date of entry in your passport.