Overview of the Program
The J visa is a nonimmigrant visa, and participants in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program are expected to return to their home countries when they complete their programs. Entry into the United States as a participant in the Exchange Visitor Program is granted with the understanding that participants will complete the objectives of a single program category.
The minimum duration of any exchange program is three weeks, except for participants in the Short Term Scholar category or those sponsored by the Federal Government. The maximum duration varies by category. The Form DS-2019 identifies the participant (block 1) and the sponsor (block 2 and block 7, which contains the name, signature and telephone number/address of the sponsor's responsible officer), provides a brief description of the program activity to be completed by the participant (block 2), indicates the begin and end dates of the program (block 3) and the program category (block 4), and provides a breakout of the total estimated financial support to be provided to the participant during his or her program (block 5).
The program participant is in current J visa status and may complete objectives relative to the program category indicated in block 4 only during the time period defined in block 3 unless the participant withdraws or is terminated from the program. The time period defined on the Form DS-2019 may not reflect the the maximum program duration permitted for a specific category; in such cases, the participant's program may be extended, as allowed by program regulations and at the discretion of the responsible officer. Program extensions beyond the maximum duration, if allowed for a program category, must be requested by the responsible officer and approved by the Department of State.
Program regulations of some categories permit the entry of the participant's dependents under the J-2 visa at the sponsor's discretion. Dependents are defined as the participant's spouse and minor unmarried children -- unmarried children under the age 21. Participants should contact their sponsors for additional information and to determine if their dependents may accompany them to the United States for the duration of their programs.
Alabama A&M University's exchange visitor program is to provide courses of study, lecturing, research and development opportunities in the various fields of instruction and research conducted by Alabama A&M University for qualified foreign students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars and specialists to promote the general interest of international educational and cultural exchange. To qualify for J-1 Exchange Visitor status at Alabama A&M University an applicant must be:
This category provides foreign students the opportunity to study at a Alabama A&M University. Students may participate in degree and non-degree programs. Foreign students are eligible to participate in this category if at any time during their college studies in the U.S. they or their program is financed directly or indirectly by the U.S. Government, the government of their home country, or an international organization of which the U.S. is a member by treaty or statute, or if they are supported substantially by funding from any source other than personal or family funds. Students are also eligible if their program is carried out pursuant to an agreement between the U.S. Government and a foreign government, or pursuant to written agreement between American and foreign educational institutions, an American educational institution and a foreign government, or a state or local government in the U.S. and a foreign government.
Students in degree programs may participate in this category as long as they study at Alabama A&M or participate in an authorized academic training program, as permitted in 22 CFR 62.23(f). Students in a non-degree program shall be authorized to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program for up to 24 months if they are studying at AAMU or participating in an authorized academic training program. Degree and non-degree program students must pursue a full-time course of study and maintain satisfactory advancement toward the completion of their academic program. Exceptions are (1) during official school breaks and summer vacations if intending to register for the next term; or because (2) of an illness or medical condition; (3) for academic reason; (4) or if they are engaged in authorized academic training; or (6) they require less than a full course of study to complete their academic requirements during the final term.
Academic Training: A student may participate in academic training with or without wages, however it must be authorized in writing and in advance by the Responsible Officer to include the duration and type of academic training. The training may take place during the student's studies or may begin no later than 30 days after the student completes his/her course of study. The student must be in the U.S. primarily to study rather than engage in academic training , the training must be directly related to the student's major field of study at AAMU and the student must be in good academic standing. The total Duration of the training is the length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training and must be approved by the student's academic dean or advisor and the Responsible Officer (Academic Training Application). Undergraduate and pre-doctoral students may not exceed 18 months, inclusive of any prior academic training in the U.S., or the period of full course of study, whichever is less. However, academic training for a longer period is allowed to the extent necessary for students to satisfy the mandatory requirements for their degree programs. Postdoctoral students' academic training may not exceed 36 months, inclusive of any prior academic training in the U.S., or the duration of the student's full course of study in the U.S., whichever is less.
Employment: Students in this category may engage in part-time employment under certain conditions, including good academic standing at AAMU. The employment must be on the AAMU campus. It may be off-campus only if the student is in serious, urgent, and unforeseen economic circumstances that have arisen since acquiring exchange visitor status. A student may only work for a total of 20 hours per week except during official school breaks and during the student's annual vacation (if applicable). A full course of study must still be maintained and the Responsible Officer must approve the employment in advance and in writing. Approval may be valid for up to 12 months, but is automatically invalid if the student's program is terminated.
A PROFESSOR OR RESEARCH SCHOLAR
Regulations pertaining specifically to the Professor and Research Scholar categories are found at 22 CFR 62.20.
As participants in these program categories, foreign professors and research scholars engage in research, teaching, and lecturing with their American colleagues. Alien physicians in graduate medical education or training and short-term scholars are not included in this category.
The eligible participant shall not be a candidate for a tenure track position. Also, professor and research scholar participants may not be in the United States in J-visa status for any part of the 12-month period preceding the start date of their programs, indicated on their Form DS-2019. The 12-month bar is waived if the participant is 1) present in the United States no more than six months; or 2) participating in the Short-Term Scholar category.
At the discretion of the responsible officer, professors may freely engage in research and research scholars may freely engage in teaching and lecturing; this will not be considered a change of category. Incidental lectures or short-term consultations are permitted with the approval of the responsible officer so long as they are directly related to the objectives of the participant's program, and do not delay its completion date. Please consult the regulations for details.
The maximum Duration for both categories is three years. The responsible officer may extend a participant's program for up to six months to allow the research scholar or professor to complete a specific project or research activity. Extensions for a period longer than six months must be approved in writing by the Department of State. The responsible officer should submit a written request to the Department on behalf of the participant, no less than 60 days prior to the expiration of the participant's permitted three-year period. The fee for extension requests, payable to the Department of State at the time of application, is $198.
A SHORT-TERM SCHOLAR
Regulations pertaining specifically to the Short Term Scholar category are found at 22 CFR 62.21.
A short-term scholar is a professor, research scholar, or person with similar education or accomplishments who visits the United States to lecture, observe, consult, train, or demonstrate special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions, or similar types of institutions.
The Duration of the program is the time needed to complete the objective, up to a maximum of six months. The minimum program duration of 3 weeks for any Exchange Visitor Program category is waived for participants in this category. Extensions are not permitted.
Short-term scholars may participate in the Exchange Visitor Program at conferences, workshops, seminars, or other events listed their Forms DS-2019. Participants may also lecture or consult at institutions not listed on the Form DS-2019 if the responsible officer issues a written authorization for such activity. The authorization must be attached to the participant's Form DS-2019.
Regulations pertaining specifically to the Specialist category are found at 22 CFR 62.26.
Specialists are experts in a field of specialized knowledge or skill, who come to the United States to observe, consult, or demonstrate special skills. (Professors, research scholars, short term scholars, and alien physicians are excluded from this category.) Some examples of fields represented include mass media communication, environmental science, youth leadership, international educational exchange, museum exhibitions, labor law, public administration, and library science.
The purpose of the specialist category is to facilitate exchange among experts at scientific institutions, government agencies, museums, corporations, libraries, and similar types of institutions. The maximum Duration of this category is one year.
DS-2019 FOR J-1 REQUESTS
In addition to requirements as set forth above, other determining factors will need to be met before a DS-2019 can be issued for a potential J-1 Exchange Visitor.
FINANCIAL SUPPORT: Adequate financial support while in the U.S. must be shown and documented before a DS-2019 can be issued to a potential J-1 Visitor. An exchange visitor must have at least $1200 per month in support while in the U.S. on the Exchange Program. The amount needed for dependents of J-1 visitors will be decided at the time of application. Proof of support (i.e. appointment letter from AAMU) must be attached to any request for DS-2019 or shown at time of orientation when the visitor arrives on the campus of AAMU.
MANDATORY INSURANCE REQUIREMENT: All exchange visitors and any accompanying dependents must have proof of health and accident insurance as required by the Department of State.
(a) Minimum Coverage - At a minimum insurance shall cover: (1) medical benefits of at least $50,000 per person per accident or illness; (2) repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500; and (3) expenses associated with medical evacuation in the amount of $10,000.
(b) Additional Terms - A policy secured to fulfill the insurance requirements shall not have a deductible that exceeds $500 per accident or illness, and must meet other standards specified in the regulations.
(c) Maintenance of Insurance - Exchange visitors must maintain the required insurance during the duration of their program.
TWO-YEAR HOME-COUNTRY PHYSICAL PRESENCE REQUIREMENT: Certain Exchange Visitor Program participants and family members must return home for at least two years after completing their educational or cultural program before they can change or adjust to certain non-immigrant or immigrant statuses. This requirement applies to those (1) whose exchange visitor program has been financed to some extent by the U.S. Government or their home country, (2) whose skills are needed by their home country as indicated in the Exchange Visitor Skills List, or (3) whose purpose in coming to the U.S. is to receive graduate medical education or training. Grounds for applying for a waiver of this requirement are limited.
TRANSFERS: The transfer of a participant from one program (sponsor) to another may be allowed at the discretion of the responsible officers and must be within the same category. The responsible officer here at AAMU will verify the participant's visa status and eligibility, issue a new Form DS-2019 reflecting the transfer, and will obtain the release of the participant from the current responsible officer, who indicates approval of the transfer by completing and signing block 8 of Form DS-2019. Transfers are not permitted in all categories, and a transfer does not extend the maximum duration of the program. Participants should address all inquiries regarding change of category to the responsible officer of their programs. [22 CFR 62.42]. To request a Transfer of Form DS-2019 for AAMU sponsorship please complete a Request for Transfer for J-1 Visa. Scholars or students wishing to transfer their program to another institution from Alabama A&M University should complete a Request to Transfer J-1 Sponsorship form.