Visitor Overview

J-1 Visa Program Overview

The Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is "to promote international educational and cultural exchange in order to develop mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries".

The University of Indianapolis is designated to serve as Program Sponsor, thereby enabling us to issue Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility, to prospective Exchange Visitors.

Program Regulations in Brief

Exchange Visitors enter the United States in J-1 visa classification to participate in an educational or cultural program in a specific program category such as a student, professor, researcher, specialist, or short-term scholar. The program category and activity are clearly delineated on Form DS-2019. Exchange visitors are only permitted to engage in the fields of activity listed on their Form DS-2019 and must comply with all federal program regulations.


Exchange visitors may only be compensated as permitted by the regulations and are required to have a valid, un-expired Form DS-2019 and passport for the duration of the program.

Extension of Stay

A program extension may be granted by the University of Indianapolis as permitted under federal regulations.


Exchange visitors are permitted to transfer from one program sponsor to another only if the current program sponsor agrees to the transfer and releases its sponsorship via a valid signature on a new Form DS-2019 prepared by the new program sponsor.


Exchange visitors are required to maintain contact with the International Services and notify a representative of the International Services if they withdraw from, or complete the program prior to the date listed on Form DS-2019.

Termination from the Program

Exchange visitors may have their program terminated for violating federal regulations that govern the program. Reasons for termination include;

  • willful failure to maintain required medical insurance coverage;
  • engaging in unauthorized employment;
  • failing to pursue the activities listed on Form DS-2019; or,
  • engaging in activities not authorized by the program category.
  • Special Regulations for Exchange Visitors in Professor or Research Scholar Categories


Federal regulations prohibit us from issuing a DS-2019 in the professor or research scholar category to an individual who has been physically present in the US in J-1 visa status for six months or more of the twelve month period immediately preceding the start date of the new program. The only exception to this rule is if you are being transferred from one program to another.

Medical Insurance

Federal regulations require you to carry medical insurance for yourself and all accompanying dependents for the duration of your J-1 Program. All visiting faculty entering the United States on a J-1 visa issued upon presentation of a DS-2019 from the University of Indianapolis are enrolled automatically in the University of Indianapolis LewerMark Plus insurance program.

As a visiting faculty member, you are responsible for payment of the mandatory insurance program. If an academic department is covering this expense on your behalf, please ensure that the payment is.

The Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement

Some Exchange Visitors and their family members may be required to return home for a period of two years after completing their program before they can change to other non-immigrant visa classifications from within the US, or immigrate to the US as permanent residents.

This requirement applies to those Exchange Visitors whose:

  • program is financed wholly or in part by the US Government and/or the government of the home country;
  • occupation or skill has been listed by the home country as in short supply and indicated on an Exchange Visitor Skills List maintained by the US Department of State; or,
  • purpose in coming to the United States is/was to receive graduate medical education or training.

It is possible in some cases to obtain a waiver of this requirement, especially if the requirement is due to the Skills List. However, even when successful, waiver approvals can take 6 months to one year. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to obtain a waiver if the requirement is due to funding from the US government or if graduate medical training was the objective. The waiver application is made to the US Department of State.


Federal regulations require that the Program Sponsor provide an orientation to Exchange Visitors. All Exchange Visitors are required to check in with the International Services within one week of arrival for orientation and payment of health insurance.

Your Immigration Documents

  • your passport
  • US visa stamped in your passport
  • Form DS-2019 issued by your Program Sponsor
  • I-94 Card , Record of Arrival and Departure

These documents are extremely important as they are evidence of your lawful status in the US You will need to present these documents in the US and will need to carry them with you if you must leave the country and wish to re-enter. We strongly recommend that you make a photocopy of these documents — should you then lose the originals they will be easier to replace.

Your Passport

Federal regulations require that your passport be valid at all times while you are in the United States. If your passport will expire while you are still in the US, you must contact the Embassy of your home country to make arrangements to have your passport extended. You will not be permitted to re-enter the United States with an expired passport. The addresses and phone numbers of foreign embassies and consulates in the US are available online.

Your Visa

In some cases, the date of expiration on your Form DS-2019 and the expiration date on your visa stamp may not coincide. Please look at the expiration date on your visa. If your visa expires while you are in the US, but your Form DS-2019 and Form I-94 are still valid, and you are maintaining your program objective, you may remain in the United States and will be in legal immigration status. However, if your visa stamp has expired and you depart the United States, you must obtain a new visa before attempting to re-enter the United States.

Form DS-2019

If you travel outside the US for any reason during your program you must have the back of your Form DS-2019 signed by your Responsible Officer before you leave. You will be required to present this signed form to the Immigration Officer when you re-enter the US

The Expiration Date on Form DS-2019

The end date on your Form DS-2019 (section # 3) is the last day you are permitted to receive any type of compensation in the United States. Regulations permit you to remain in the US for an additional thirty days beyond your expiration date. You may use this thirty-day period to prepare for your departure, or to travel in the United States. However, if you travel outside the US during this thirty day period, you will not be permitted to re-enter as a J-1 Exchange Visitor.

Your I-94 Card

Your I-94 Card is a record of your arrival and departure. This card lists your name, date and place of admission to the U.S, your visa classification, and the date of expiration. All J-1 exchange visitors should have the notation "D/S" on their I-94 cards instead of an actual date of expiration. The D/S stands for "duration of status" and means that you are permitted to legally remain in the US as long as you have a Form DS-2019 with valid program dates and are maintaining your program objective. (Your program dates can be found in section # 3 of your DS-2019.) Make sure that your program dates have not expired. If you need to have an extension of your program, you must talk to the department or faculty member to whom you report and ask them to contact the International Services to arrange for an extension. Do not attempt to travel outside the US with an expired DS-2019 as you will not be permitted to re-enter.

Employment in the US

You are only permitted to be employed or receive compensation for services performed for your Program Sponsor and are only permitted to receive compensation until the expiration date listed on Form DS-2019.

If you are asked to perform services by another academic institution or organization on a short-term basis, and, the services you will perform are directly related to your program objective, you must apply to your Program Sponsor for permission before you accept the offer. You will need to bring a letter from the outside institution describing the focus of your work, and a letter from your University of Indianapolis supervisor indicating how you will benefit from this particular activity. If you accept payment for services without obtaining advance permission from your Program Sponsor, you will violate your immigration status.


Within the US — You have the right to travel freely within the United States provided you maintain your legal J-1 status. Carry your passport and immigration documents with you.

Outside the US with return to the University of Indianapolis — In order to avoid problems re-entering the country, consult with a representative of the International Services before you leave the United States. You will need to have your DS-2019 signed and may also need a letter verifying your status as an exchange visitor. You may also need to obtain a new passport visa.

Outside the US with return to a different university — You must consult in advance with the Responsible Officer at the University of Indianapolis about your proposed travel and change to a new university. If the change is permissible, you must obtain a new Form DS-2019 from the university you will transfer to before you attempt to re-enter the US

Completion of Program

The University of Indianapolis is required by the US Department of State to keep them informed of your activities while you are an Exchange Visitor. Once you have completed your program, you have an additional thirty days within which to depart the US (even if the date on your Form DS-2019 has not yet expired). Your Program Sponsor is required to notify the DOS of any early departure from the program. If you choose to remain in the US for more than 30 days following the end of your program, you must apply to the INS for a change of visa status, or you will be in violation of immigration laws and could be subject to deportation and/or be barred from re-entering the US for three years.

Length of Time You May Remain in the US

You have the right to remain in the US to complete your Program Objective (provided it does not exceed the total length of time permitted by your program category) and you adhere to all regulations of your J-1 visa classification.

If it is necessary for you to remain in the US beyond the expiration date listed in section # 3 of your Form DS-2019 in order to complete your Program Objective, you have the right to request an extension of your stay. You must contact your host department at least sixty days before your expiration date to request an extension. Providing you submit all of the necessary documentation requested by your Program Sponsor, have not exceeded the maximum allowable stay for your program category, and have maintained lawful J-1 immigration status, you will be considered eligible to receive an extension.

Responsibility to Comply With Program Regulations

It is your responsibility to comply with all J-1 program and immigration regulations and to maintain lawful immigration status in the US. Failure to maintain legal immigration status in the United States will nullify your visa and your permission to remain in the country. Remaining in the United States beyond your date of authorized stay could subject you to a bar from re-entering the US for a period of up to 10 years. In addition, violating the terms and conditions of your immigration status will prevent you from obtaining a visa to enter the US at any US Consulate other than the one in your home country.