Scholar 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., how to obtain your required legal documents, steps you must take to complete mandatory immigration check-in and orientation requirements, and how to maintain your J-1 visa status after you begin your program at UCLA.

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


Click below to get started!

Pre-Arrival Information

 

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 Form

Look at your biographical information and program dates (item 3) on your UCLA DS-2019 and sign at the bottom. Please contact DCISS immediately if there are any errors on the form. Return the form to our office if you decide not to come. 

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 $180 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 exempt*):

1. Fill out the DS-160 Application, pay the MRV (visa application fee), and schedule your appointment with a U.S. Embassy/Consulate at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/. The fee is generally $160, but there may be additional fees depending on the embassy. 

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 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

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 in the Visiting Scholar Benefits Plan (VSPB) through Garnett-Powers & Associates.

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 print and bring for check-in. Those approved for the waiver, must bring their waiver confirmation and proof of medical insurance used to waive. 

J-1 visitors who are required to enroll in another UCLA affiliated plan are exempt from enrolling in the VSBP plan. These groups include:

(A) Postdoctoral Scholars

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/.

(B) UCLA Staff & Faculty

Medical benefits coverage for UCLA hired staff and faculty must 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

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.

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

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.

Check-In & Orientation

Mandatory jPATH Orientation

As an international J-1 scholar you are required to complete a J-1 orientation per U.S. Department of State regulations. UCLA jPATH Orientation is composed of several components. Some of them are mandatory and some of them are highly recommended – but all of them have been created to help adjust you to life in the United States, Los Angeles and the UCLA campus:

  • Create a UCLA Logon ID (Mandatory)

  • Create DCISS Account / iSTART Registration (Mandatory)

  • Pay the jPATH fee of $59 (Mandatory)

  • J-1 Visa Workshop Video (Mandatory)

  • Getting Started at UCLA Video (Mandatory)

  • Getting Started in Los Angeles Video (Highly Recommended)

  • Cultural Adjustment Video (Highly Recommended)

  • J-1 Visa Check-in (Mandatory)

  • DCISS Programs (Highly Recommended)

jPATH is due by the end of week 2 of your UCLA program. An all services hold will be placed in your record if jPATH is not completed on time. Failure to complete jPATH may also lead to the cancellation of your J-1 visa status since orientation is a U.S. Department of State requirement.

Note: jPATH is required for UCLA J-1 scholars and non-degree students with a program duration of more than 3 months. jPATH is not for J-1 Degree Students, Exchange Students (e.g. EAP, LAW), and TFT Professional Program Students. Degree Students and Exchange Students must complete iSTART instead.

Mandatory Visa Check-In

The arrival of a J-1 scholar must be updated in SEVIS. This process is called ‘validation’ and must be completed within 25 days after the DS-2019 start date. In order to do this, the scholar is required to visit 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. Scholars are required to bring the following documents to DCISS:

  • Copy of UCLA initial or transfer DS-2019

  • Copy of I-94 Admission Record*

  • Copy of J-1 Visa (except Canadian citizens)

  • Copy of most recent U.S. Entry Stamp inside passport

  • Copy of Proof of Medical Insurance**

  • Original Passport & DS-2019

Copies of the documents listed above must be made only AFTER arrival to the U.S. and before reporting to DCISS. DCISS does not provide access to a copy machine or printer. Map of UCLA Copy Services


The following time slots are designated for the J-1 Visa Check-in requirement at DCISS (appointment not required):

Monday:   9:00 am - 12:00 pm; 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Tuesday:  2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Wednesday:  9:00 am - 12:00 pm; 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Thursday:  9:00 am - 12:00 pm; 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm


*J-1 visitors can print their I-94 Admission Record at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home only after arrival to the U.S. This website will only be accessible after the EV’s arrival. If EV receives a paper I-94 card instead, they must make a copy of both front and back sides of the card.

**VSBP 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. J-1 visitors exempt from the VSISP plan must provide proof of their UCLA affiliated medical insurance. See Health Insurance Section.

Maintaining J-1 Status

Address & Contact Information Reporting

In compliance with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Exchange Visitors are required to have a valid address, email, and phone number during their studies/research in the U.S. DHS may terminate the EV's immigration status automatically if they do not maintain their information with UCLA. 

To update your information, please fill out and submit the following form to DCISS:

Address & Contact Information Update Form

Health Insurance

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 in the Visiting Scholar Benefits Plan (VSPB) through Garnett-Powers & Associates.

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 print and bring for check-in. Those approved for the waiver, must bring their waiver confirmation and proof of medical insurance used to waive. 

J-1 visitors who are required to enroll in another UCLA affiliated plan are exempt from enrolling in the VSBP plan. These groups include:

(A) Postdoctoral Scholars

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/.

(B) UCLA Staff & Faculty

Medical benefits coverage for UCLA hired staff and faculty must 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

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.

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

Valid Passport

All J-1 students must maintain a valid passport at all times. Your passport must always be valid for at least 6 months into the future.

Employment

Any employment opportunity must be reviewed and authorized by DCISS before such activity can take place. This includes receiving travel reimbursements and honorariums from an off-campus institute. Eligibility and instructions for employment authorization will differ based on the J-1 visa category.

J-1 Research Scholar/Professor/Short-term Scholar/Specialist

Employment authorization from DCISS is required for any activity taking place outside of the hosting UCLA academic department. Please contact DCISS if you plan to be employed by another UCLA department. 

Refer to Services for J-1 Scholars for detailed information on Off-Campus Employment eligibility and application procedures. These procedures also apply to travel reimbursement from non-UCLA institutes.

J-1 Student Non-Degree

Visiting Student Researchers on the J-1 Student Non-degree visa must request employment authorization from DCISS for any employment taking place on campus even if employment is taking place in the hosting academic department. Off-campus employment is not allowed. 

J-1 Student On-Campus Employment Authorization Form

Program Completion

Upon completion of your program, you do not need to inform DCISS of your departure unless you plan to leave earlier than 15 days prior to the expiration date on your DS-2019. You can contact DCISS by email dcissj1unit@saonet.ucla.edu to report your early program completion.

J-1 Exchange Visitors are 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.

Services for J-1 Scholars

DS-2019 Extension

Please refer to the DS-2019 Procedures section of this site for complete instructions on how to submit a DS-2019 Extension Request to DCISS. 

Travel Authorization

A student 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.

Travel Request Form

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.

  • You applied for a new J-1 visa while being out of the U.S. and it has not been issued.

  • You applied for a new J-1 visa and were denied.

  • You have a terminated or completed SEVIS record.

  • You have been out of the U.S. for more than 30 days.

  • You are a citizen from one of the following countries: Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, North Korea

Off-Campus Scholar Employment

Visiting Professor/Researcher/Short-Term Scholar/Specialist on J-1 visa status are authorized to receive compensation or salaries from UCLA for employment when such activities are part of his/her program. Acceptance of employment with an organization or institution other than UCLA without written authorization by DCISS is a violation of the exchange visitor's visa status and deems them subject to termination from participation in the exchange visitor program. 

Employment for monetary remuneration of Visiting Scholars/Professors is limited to occasional lectures and short-term consultations incidental to the exchange visitor's primary program activity.* 

Before employment can be authorized, following criteria must be met:

Such Employment must –

  • Be directly related to the objectives of the exchange visitor's program;

  • Be incidental to the exchange visitor's primary program activities; and

  • Not delay the completion date of the exchange visitor's program.

*Receiving travel reimbursements for short-term activity (e.g. conference attendance) is treated as a form of employment, and may be authorized by DCISS if aforementioned criteria is met. 

Procedures

To apply for permission to engage in occasional lectures or short-term consultations involving monetary compensation the EV must:

  • Fill out and complete the J-1 SCHOLAR OFF-CAMPUS EMPLOYMENT REQUEST FORM.

  • Obtain a letter from the prospective employer setting forth the terms and conditions of the offer including its duration, number of hours, field or subject, amount of compensation, and description of such activity. There is no limitation as to the maximum or minimum amount of compensation the exchange visitor may receive.

  • Obtain a letter from the Department Chair or Faculty Supervisor explaining how the activity would enhance his/her program and that it will not interfere with the activities at UCLA.

  • Drop off the above documents at the DCISS front desk or email documents to dcissj1unit@saonet.ucla.edu. If consistent with the purpose and objectives of the exchange visitor's program, DCISS will prepare the required written authorization and add the employer site to your SEVIS record.

Processing time is 5 business days. You will be emailed once documents are ready for pick up at DCISS. 

On-Campus Visiting Student Researcher Employment

Visiting Student Researchers on the J-1 Student Non-degree visa category  may work on campus part time (up to 20 hours per week). In order to be employed, visitors must be in good academic standing and obtain on-campus work authorization from DCISS.

Work authorization is given for maximum one year. If you wish to continue employment after one year you can request an extension to your work authorization within a month of the end date. In order for DCISS to issue you a work authorization letter, please fill out and sbumit the following form:

J-1 Student On-Campus Employment Authorization Form

If you change employment at any time, you must complete another request form. Allow 5 business days to process.

Certification of Status (CoS)

DCISS can provide scholars with a Certification of Status letter verifying visa status and field of research or sign home institution certification forms, if needed. To request a Certification of Status, please fill out the following form:

J-1 Certification of Status Request Form

If you are submitting a home institution certification form for signature, you must fill out the request form at the link above and choose to either upload a scanned copy for signature or drop off at the DCISS front desk. DCISS does not provide employment verification letters or transcripts. 

Social Security Letter

The Social Security Number (SSN) is an identification number that allows scholars to receive compensation and apply for a drivers license. Bring the following documents to your nearest Social Security Administration Office to apply for an SNN:

  • Original Passport

  • Original DS-2019 Form

  • I-94 Admissions Record

  • SSN Support letter (required only for J-1 Non-degree Students)

To request an SSN Support Letter from DCISS, please fill out and submit the following form:

SSN Support Letter Request Form

Click here to locate your nearest Social Security Administration Office. J-1 visa holders must wait at least 10 days after their visa check-in to apply at the SSA. 

DCISS will only process support letters for scholars on the J-1 Non-degree Student category. Scholars on the following J-1 visa categories do not require an SSN support letter from DCISS: Research Scholar, Professor, Short-term Scholar, and Specialist. 

Invitation Letter

DCISS no longer provides family invitation letters for visitor visas (B-1/B-2). The U.S. Department of State does not consider invitation letters when determining whether to issue or deny the visa:

"Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant's residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends. A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a visitor visa. If you choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember it is not one of the factors used in determining whether to issue or deny the visa." - https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visitor.html

Scholars who would like to write their own invitation letters for their family members can use the Sample Invitation Letter template here.

J-2 Dependent DS-2019 Request

Only a spouse and minor unmarried children under the age of 21 years are eligible for the dependent J-2 visa status. They may accompany the J-1 student or join them at a later date. Dependents will need their own DS-2019 form to apply for the J-2 visa stamp. The J-1 DS-2019 application includes a section for dependent information. DCISS will automatically provide DS-2019 forms for those dependents listed on the application

However, if you are requesting DS-2019 forms for your dependents after yours has already been issued, you can fill out and submit the following documents to DCISS:

*A J-2 Dependent Fee of $40 is required per year of appointment for issuing a DS-2019 for dependents. Fees can be paid by logging into your DCISS account. 

SEVIS Transfer Out

You may request a transfer out of your J-1 SEVIS record to another U.S. Exchange Visitor (J-1) designated institution by filling out and submitting the following form to DCISS:  

Transfer Out Request Form (DCISS can also accept the new institution's Transfer Form in lieu of the DCISS Transfer Out Request Form)

A transfer request can only take place if your J-1 visa category will remain the same at the new institution, your subject of activity is similar to your current UCLA activity, and you do not exceed the maximum program duration of your J-1 visa category. Your new institution will make these determinations when accepting the transfer-out request from UCLA. 

Advisory Opinion

Scholars can submit an advisory opinion request to the U.S. Department of State if they feel that the U.S. Embassy has wrongly determined that they are subject to the 2 year home residency requirement or if the applicability of the residency requirement is unclear. Instructions are provided on the U.S. Department of State website here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/advisory-opinions.html

Scholars can consult with DCISS in obtaining a support letter. DCISS can provide a support letter only if in agreement that the scholar should not be subject to the 2 year home residency requirement. Appointment with a J-1 counselor is required. 

FAQs

I want to come to UCLA as a J-1 researcher, how do I apply?

You must contact the UCLA Department you are interested in visiting. The sponsoring department will submit the DS-2019 Request Form to DCISS. Upon approval from the Department of Homeland Security, the DS-2019 will be processed and mailed to you by your department. UCLA School of Medicine Visa and Licensing Office processes DS-2019 requests for visitors to the School of Medicine and other affiliated hospitals. 

I am a student in my home country and want to come to UCLA as a researcher, how do I apply?

If you are a graduate student, your sponsoring UCLA department needs to contact the Graduate Division regarding the application, requirements, and fees. If you are an undergraduate student, your sponsoring UCLA department must contact the Undergraduate Research Center regarding the application and requirements. Once registered, your sponsoring UCLA department will need to contact DCISS to begin the J-1 DS-2019 application process.

After my arrival at UCLA, how soon must I check-in at DCISS?

It is mandatory that you check in with DCISS as soon as possible after your arrival, but no later than 30 days after the starting date listed on your DS-2019. If you fail to report to our office within the 30-day time period, your DS-2019 form will be voided automatically by the US Homeland Security Department making your stay in the U.S. illegal.

How can I find housing?

DCISS does not provide housing assistance, but UCLA Community Housing Office or our corporate sponsor Zuma Housing can provide you with housing options. Eligibility for university housing is dependent on your UCLA appointment title. Please contact your UCLA academic department for more information.

My spouse and children do not plan to come with me to the U.S. Can they join me later?

Your spouse and children can join you on J-2 visa status at any time during your stay in the U.S. You do not need to request a DS-2019 form at the same time you are getting one. They can request a DS-2019 form to apply for the J-2 visa when they are ready to visit you.

How do I make an appointment?

Appointments can be made by calling our front desk at (310)-825-1681 (or 51681 from a campus phone). Please be aware that during peak periods, the waiting time for an appointment can be up to 2 weeks. 

What services need an appointment?

Appointments with a counselor are required for the following: Any detailed questions regarding your visa status, home residency requirement, change of status or other out-of-the-ordinary requests, transfers and work permits/academic training. 

What services do NOT need an appointment?

Paperwork for the following can be dropped off at the DCISS front desk: Requests for a DS2019 (new program or extension), travel validation, separate entry of family member, certification of status, parent invitation, social security number request.

I have some tax questions..

Each year – normally in the months of February, March and April – DCISS coordinates workshops with campus and outside professionals to assist UCLA scholars and students with the preparation of non-resident tax returns. Once available, the dates will be announced by email as well as on this website. You will also find other information, including on-line forms and references, on our website, specifically the Non-Resident Tax Information page. You will also find a list of professional tax preparers on our website as well as on the UCLA Tax Services website, should you require personal assistance for your individual tax returns. 

Can I buy Health Insurance from a carrier in my country?

As long as the coverage meets J-1 visa regulations. Coverage requirements are listed at UCLA’s affiliated insurance agency website: http://www.garnett-powers.com/vs/ucla/. Through the waiver process, Garnett-Powers will review your purchased plan to determine if it meets the J-1 visa regulations.