Exchange Visitor (J) status is granted for a variety of activities intended to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
The J program has various categories into which a visitor may fit depending upon their primary activities while in the U.S. Lenoir-Rhyne University sponsors the following categories only:
- Research Scholar/Professor (up to 5 years) - provides foreign professors and research scholars the opportunity to engage in research, teaching, and lecturing with their American colleagues.
- Short-term Scholar (6 months or less) - provides foreign scholars the opportunity to exchange ideas with their American colleagues, participate in educational and professional programs, confer on common problems and projects, and promote professional relationships and communications.
If you are interested in exploring the possibility of inviting a Research Scholar/Professor or Short-term Scholar to your engage in research, teaching, lecturing, or other form of participation in educational programming, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to complete required paperwork and explore the possibilities.
The One Year Bar:
There is one-year bar rule which affects the research scholar/professor categories. The one-year bar is a feature of the J research scholar category that prevents someone from using the J program for an extended period of time without returning home. Any person who has been in the US in J-1 student or J-2 status in the preceding 12 month period will not be eligible for the research scholar or professor categories of the J visa for a period of one year. In other words, if you have been a J student and have just completed Academic Training, you may not continue your employment or training by applying to become a J-1 Exchange Visitor in the research scholar or professor category. Likewise, J-2 dependents whose spouse has just ended their J program may not apply for their own J-1 status in the research scholar or professor category for a period of one year. There is no waiver available for the one year bar rule.
When you receive your DS-2019 you must review your document for any corrections that need to be made. Check the spelling of your name, your date of birth, country of citizenship, birth, etc. Also check the dates of your program, etc. If corrections are needed please contact OIE via email, email@example.com. If everything is correct, sign your DS-2019 (at the bottom of the first page). Make sure to read the second page of your DS-2019 for important immigration requirements.
Paying the SEVIS Fee:
All J-1 exchange visitor visa applicants must pay the SEVIS (I-901) fee prior to going to the U.S. embassy or Consulate for the visa interview. The fee may be paid on the Homeland Security Website. The Exchange Visitor should print the receipt and bring it to the Consulate interview as proof of payment in order to be qualified for the J-1 visa.
Applying for a Visa:
Although LR has admitted you (or accepted to sponsor you as a scholar) and issued the DS-2019 form, if you are coming directly from overseas, you must first apply for a visa from a U.S. Embassy/Consulate. (NOTE: a visa is not required for Canadians).
What embassy or Consulate should you contact for an appointment?
The U. S. Embassy/Consulate closest to your home will usually process your visa application. You can use the Study in the States Website, to assist with locating an embassy/consulate.
When should you apply?
Check the embassy’s processing time to ensure your visa will arrive on time. Most Embassies/Consulates have specific hours to review non-immigrant visa applications. Applicants generally apply online, but then must to go to the Embassy/Consulate for an interview. Please check with the Consulate located closest to your home for their application procedures.
- Remember that the Embassy/Consulate will close for both U.S. and local holidays.
- All student visa holders are required to pay an additional MRV (machine-readable visa fee) before making an appointment for a student visa. (this is in addition to the SEVIS fee)
- Most U. S. universities begin their academic year in August, so this is a very busy month at the Embassy/Consulate. Plan ahead so you can arrive in time for orientation and class.
Online Form Required for Visa Application
In addition to paying the SEVIS fee, all non-immigrant visa applicants (that includes J student and scholar visas) must also pay a processing fee (non-refundable) visa application fee (this is called the MRV fee (see above)). See the State Department Website. You can also find information on the Study in the States Website.
What should you take to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate?
It is crucial that you take all of the required documents with you for your visa appointment. If you do not, you may be required to return for a second time, which may delay your visa for several weeks.
Be sure to take:
- An unexpired valid passport and all previously issued passports
- The receipt of SEVIS I-901fee payment, https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/.
- The DS-2019 form provided by LR or your sponsoring agency
- A letter of admission from LR
- Your valid passport, with at least six months validity on it from the date you will enter the U.S.
- A copy of TOEFL Score, if you are a non-native English speaker
- Proof of finances documents
- Passport-sized photographs for your visa. See photo requirements here.
- Previous school transcripts, diplomas, or records (if requested)
- Proof of ties to your home country. The J-1 visas is a non-immigrant visa, which means you must be able to show you will return to your home country upon completion of your program of study at LR. Visit the embassy website where you will apply for the visa for information on what documentation will show your ties to your home country.
What happens at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate?
You will be required to speak with a consular official who reviews many visa applications every day. The consular officer will quickly review your documents and ask about your program at LR. Since you are applying for a non-immigrant visa, the officer will require documentation of proof of intent to return to your home country. The officer will then give you instructions about when to return to pick up your documents and your visa or when to expect them in the mail. If the officer feels additional information is required s/he will issue a request to submit additional information.
When you Receive it, Review Your Visa.
Make sure that the following information is correct:
- Your first, middle and last name is spelled correctly.
- Your date of birth (DOB) is correct in the mm/dd/yyyy format.
- Your visa type is F-1 or J-1, depending on your status.
You cannot apply for or obtain a visa in the U.S. This means that if you enter the U.S. and your information is incorrect you will need to exit the U.S., apply for a new visa and reenter with the correct visa. If your visa is not correct it will affect your ability to obtain a Driver’s License (DL) and/or a Social Security Number (SSN).
Do Not Enter the U.S. on a Tourist Visa
You should not enter the U.S. as a tourist using a B-l/B-2 visa or using the WT-Visa Waiver Process. You are intending to be a student or scholar, so you should not apply for, or enter the country with an existing, tourist visa. You may encounter immigration problems if you enter the U.S. using an inappropriate visa. Do not worry; if you already have a tourist visa in your passport, this will not prevent you from getting a student visa. You cannot attend LR if you enter the U.S. on a tourist visa without taking steps to correct your entry record.
Complete the Student Health Form
All students must complete the Student Health form which can be found on the Student Health Center Website. It is the first form (for Traditional Undergraduate Students) under the heading Immunization Forms. You must also provide a copy of your Immunization Record for review. Information on the required immunizations and the immunization forms are part of the overall Student Health Form discussed above.
For ease of processing, please send the form and immunization records directly to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as you can. Once the form has been reviewed by the Student Health Center, the OIE will communicate back to you any additional immunizations you may be required to complete in order to maintain enrollment in LR classes.
It is a good idea to have your immunizations taken care of before you arrive in the U.S. They tend to be cheaper for you at home, and since we do not provide immunizations on campus, you will need to arrange transportation to and from providers of immunizations in the U.S. The one item you are required by N.C. law to do in the U.S. is your TB screening (called a PPD test).
LR uses the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) for receiving international students, and OIE offers a complimentary shuttle the Saturday before a new semester’s classes begin to get you from CLT to campus. For shuttle reservations, email email@example.com. Please plan to arrive prior to 3 pm on the Saturday before classes begin. If you will arrive to CLT after 3pm, you may choose to arrive on the Friday before classes begin and stay at an airport hotel for one night. Please inform the OIE of your intended arrival date and time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: You must attend mandatory orientation Sunday through Tuesday before classes begin on Wednesday. Please do not arrive after the Saturday before classes begin.
Send us your Flight Information
You are required to provide your flight arrival information, even if you do not use OIE for transportation to campus. OIE needs to share your travel dates with the insurance company to ensure insurance coverage prior to the start of the semester. When you purchase your ticket and make your travel plans, email a scanned copy of your ticket or forward your flight confirmation information to email@example.com. We will need the full flight information to the U.S. starting with your city of departure and including flight numbers and times for each of your flights as well as any confirmation number associated with your booking.
Note: If you wish to purchase your return air ticket, you can plan on moving out of your dorm the day after the last day of exams. We will provide a return shuttle to the CLT airport on that day.
When booking your flight, keep in mind that J-1 students can arrive 30 days prior the start date listed on their DS-2019 and a 30 day grace period following the end date listed on their DS-2019.
Get in Touch with your I-PAL
OIE will assign you a U.S. student to be your I-Pal. This student will show you how to get integrated into life at LR successfully, introduce you to friends, socialize with you, and answer your cultural adjustment questions. OIE will provide you with contact information for your I-Pal prior to your arrival.
Decide if you want OIE to Pre-Purchase Linens and Towels
Bed linens, pillows, blankets and towels can be purchased inexpensively at Wal-Mart upon your arrival. If you agree to pay the Business Office approximately $50 please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and she will gladly purchase a bedding set, towel, wash cloth and hand towel, and a few snacks so that you’re ready for your first night in your new residence hall. She will even make your bed!
Wait until after you receive your visa to make your flight arrangements. Remember, you cannot enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the start date listed on your DS-2019 form. Carry your ORIGINAL immigration documents with you onto the plane because you will be required to present your passport and these documents to the Immigration Officer at your Port of Entry (POE). When you arrive at your POE, you will be inspected for admission into the U.S. At this time you will present your passport, DS-2019 form and other requested information to the U.S. Immigration Officer. Remain patient and polite and answer all questions honestly. Your passport will be stamped with an entry date. Make sure that the stamp notes J-1 and D/S, which stands for Duration of Status. If your entry stamp is not correct, please ask the Immigration Officer to correct the stamp. Put these documents in a safe place because you will need to present them to OIE upon your arrival at LR. Loosing these documents will cost you significant time and money to replace.
Please Note: You are required by USCIS to attend the institution whose Immigration documents you use to enter the U.S.
If you do not have the documentation needed to enter the U.S. you may be given an I-515A and granted temporary admission to the U.S. If you receive an I-515A, notify OIE immediately for assistance. You can reach OIE via email at email@example.com
Reporting to LR
Once you enter the U.S. you MUST report to LR within 30 days. But keep in mind that OIE will host a mandatory immigration orientation on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before classes begin. Please make sure to be present for this mandatory orientation. At this orientation, you will ‘check-in’ with OIE, per immigration regulations, and your SEVIS record will be Registered or Validated, depending on your status. If you fail to check-in with OIE, you are not maintaining your status, which can lead to serious consequences.
Your First Few Days At LR
If you use OIE to get to campus there are a few important things to remember upon your arrival. To assist with getting you settled, OIE will arrange for a Walmart run on either the Saturday you arrive or the following day. Walmart is a local all-purpose store where you can purchase bedding, toiletries, food, pharmacy items, and anything else you may need to get settled immediately. You can pay with cash for your items or with a credit or debit card.
On Sunday and Monday, OIE will also hold orientation sessions that will focus on immigration requirements, student health forms and immunizations, campus safety, registering for classes and other items that will help you get acclimated to LR. And, you will meet your I-Pals. All segments of orientation are mandatory and students who fail to check in risk having their SEVIS record terminated, and will not be able to remain legally in the U.S.
While at LR, you are strongly encouraged to participate in cultural activities.
All J-1 students are required to participate in cross-cultural activities per the regulations of the Exchange Visitor Program. OIE will plan cultural, recreational, and educational activities throughout the semester.
During your stay at LR, the OIE will offer trips to:
- Asheville or a mountains music festival in the area.
- Charlotte for shopping and restaurants and cultural opportunities.
- Approximately three other evening outings.
- In addition, per your arrangements with I-Pals, other outings in the area to the mountains for hiking, to a Charlotte-area Amusement park, etc., may be arranged.
Housing at LR
Exchange Visitors studying at LR will be accommodated in double occupancy residence hall rooms with shared bathroom facilities.
Fees EVs may expect to pay
Typically, exchange students will be participating in a tuition exchange and will be expected to pay housing, meal plan and insurance fees, as well as purchasing required text books.
For the 2016-2017 Academic Year, fees at LR will be at, or just above, $5500 for housing and meal plan and $550 for health insurance. These fees are approximated, and are subject to an annual increase. Students should allow $400 per semester for books if they buy and rent most required books. Some students may pay more, others less, depending upon the types of classes they select.
Scholars are required to purchase insurance that meets all federal requirements for themselves and dependents. They must cover their living expenses. They are not subject, however, to other fees.
To maintain valid J-1 status, all exchange visitors (and their dependents) must:
- Report to the Office for International Education any change in their telephone numbers, email addresses, actual and current U.S. address and site of activity within 10 days of the change being made;
- Maintain a full course of study and satisfactory academic progress (if students participating in academic year-long exchange);
- Avoid doing unauthorized employment; and
- Maintain insurance coverage that meets the requirements explained on page two of the DS-2019 throughout their stay in the U.S.
It is important to remember that all exchange visitors, whether students or scholars, in the J program, have a specific program to fulfill. Their immigration record and their program have both a "begin" date, and an “end” date when you are scheduled to have completed your original program objective at LR and specific program. Any aspects of the SEVIS record should be updated as information changes.
This may involve requesting an extension of program. The request for an extension must be made in a timely manner, such that the extension can be granted before the end date of the EV’s program. Extensions cannot be granted during the grace period after the end of the program.
Sometimes circumstances in academic or personal life may prevail over program pursuits so that the need arises to end a program earlier than planned. In order to appropriately "end" a SEVIS record, the Office for International Education will need to speak with the EV about plans and advise the EV appropriately for the situation, keeping in mind all the requirements of J-1 visa status and the likely desire to avoid negative short and long-term consequences to an immigration record.
If an EV simply stops attending school, his or her record will be terminated as required by law. Termination can seriously affect chances for successful future applications for U.S. immigration status.
Please note that gaps in the J program are not permitted. EVs must be continuously enrolled in a full course of study, or fully engaged in their program.
All exchange visitors may enjoy the benefit of a 30 day grace period following the completion of their program. The 30 day grace period after completion of your degree is intended to give you time to pack your belongings, make travel arrangements for home, or to travel around the U.S. prior to departure. Exchange visitors must exit the US before the end of your 30 day grace period. Note that completion of program, not program end date indicated on the DS-2019, marks the beginning of the 30-day grace period.
Please remember that any transfer to another J program and another J institution must be completed prior to the ending date on your DS-2019 form. Transfers during the grace period are not possible.
To maintain valid J-1 status, you must report to the Office for International Education any change in your physical address.
To maintain valid J-1 status, all exchange visitors (and their dependents) must maintain insurance coverage that meets the requirements outlined on page two of the DS-2019 form.
The insurance offered by LR meets these requirements and will automatically be purchased on behalf of and billed to each exchange visitor unless (for scholars only) proof of alternative insurance that meets all requirements is provided. Additional information about the specifics of coverage may be requested at any time and will be provided via email upon request.
All exchange visitors may also be subject to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act as well.
To maintain valid J-1 status, a student must maintain a full-course of study.
Full-time enrollment for undergraduates at LR is defined for immigration purposes as 12 hours minimum during fall or spring semester, with none of those course credits earned through enrollment in a fully on-line course, and for graduates as 9 hours minimum. If you are enrolled for a full academic year, you must also maintain satisfactory progress.
Registered students may add or drop a course during the drop/add period in the first week of classes, as long as a full course load is maintained. After the drop/add period, you must obtain prior authorization from the Office for International Education for a reduced course load. Immigration regulations allow an immigration officer (at LR, the Director of the Office for International Education) to authorize reduced enrollment for J students for the following specific reasons only:
- A bona fide academic reason, as documented in writing by the academic advisor;
- Medical condition defined by a licensed physician or psychologist/psychiatrist.
Students sponsored by ISEP must consult ISEP’s immigration officers regarding procedures and program rules for dropping below a full course of study.
To maintain valid J-1 status, you must avoid unauthorized employment.
It is important to understand that, employment is any type of work performed or service provided in exchange for any benefit, including but not limited to money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room and board. Employment might include informal tutoring, babysitting, teaching someone to drive or play a musical instrument if an exchange of benefit is involved.
Any employment (including paid and unpaid internship type opportunities, for academic credit, or not for academic credit) done without specific written authorization, and authorization in SEVIS, from the program sponsor (LR or ISEP) indicated in box 2 of the DS-2019 form is illegal.
LR does not allow on-campus work for J-1 students and only allows off-campus work in rare cases where Academic Training (paid or unpaid training specifically in your field of study) is deemed an essential and integral part of the student’s academic program at LR.
Many exchange visitors in J status (including J-2 dependents) are subject to what is commonly referred to as the two-year rule or two-year residence requirement. The regulatory cite used on visas and I-94 cards is 212(e).
Each time an exchange visitor in J status receives a visa from a U.S. consulate abroad, the consulate should indicate on the DS-2019 form and/or the visa whether or not the person is subject to the two-year rule. The indication on the DS-2019 form occurs in the bottom left box of the DS-2019 form for endorsement of the consular officer (extensions and amended forms issued by LR will generally not include this indication until one applies for a visa abroad). The notation on the visa will generally say something like "Two-year rule applies" or "212(e) does not apply". Occasionally, the consulate will not mark either document, but the rule will still be in effect if it applies.
The two-year rule applies to those who have received U.S. or foreign government funding specifically intended for international educational exchange or to those whose specialty appears on a skills list for their last country of permanent residence. The skills list contains lists of certain occupations/fields of study for each country. Exchange visitors whose field appears on the list for their country of last permanent residence should return to that country for a period of two years before applying for any type of immigrant visa - H, L, or permanent residency. The skills list is at http://exchanges.state.gov/education/jexchanges/participation/skills_list.pdf. Time spent outside the U.S., but not in the last country of permanent residence, does not count toward fulfillment of the two-year rule.
The two-year rule affects the following statuses only:
- H and L statuses
- any form of permanent residency (including spouse of U.S. citizen or permanent resident and winners of the diversity visa lottery); and
- change to any other status while remaining in the U.S.
The two-year rule does not affect eligibility for non-immigrant statuses, such as B - tourist, A-diplomat, F - student, or J - exchange visitor, but the form I-539 does not allow those subject to the two-year rule to submit the form for a change of status while remaining in the U.S. Those wishing to change status must either receive a waiver of the two-year rule or apply for a new status at a U.S. consulate abroad. For more information on the waiver issues, though, please visit http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1296.html.
Please note that once the Department of State's recommendation for approval of a waiver is received by a sponsor, no further extensions of one's J status are permitted.
If an exchange visitor plans to travel with the intent of returning with the same DS-2019 to continue the same program, before traveling, he or she must arrange to get the Director of the Office for International Education’s signature on the travel endorsement line of the DS-2019.
Students sponsored by ISEP should work with the Office for International Education to get their travel signature done as soon as drop/add is over after the first week of classes. ISEP students will need to bring their DS-2019s to the Office for International Education so that it can be mailed to the immigration officer at ISEP, signed, and mailed back to them again.
When a travel signature is given an exchange visitor, enrollment is checked, insurance coverage is checked, and other issues involving an exchange visitor’s status are checked. For scholars insurance coverage is checked. Exchange visitors who cannot provide proof of their own and their J-2 dependents' continuous insurance coverage will not be eligible for a travel signature. Insurance requirements are listed on page two of every DS-2019 form.
If you arrive at the port of entry without proper student documents (e.g., you left your DS-2019 in the luggage you checked, or you only had a copy rather than the original), the immigration officer will probably give you a Form I-515A with instructions to send the original DS-2019 to the SEVP office in Washington, D.C. The officer will only admit you to the US for 30 days. (Look at your I-94 and you should see a date, rather than "D/S".)
Please see the Office for International Education immediately if you receive the I-515A form, even if you are sponsored by another agency. The OIE will help you send the correct documents to SEVP or direct you to your ISEP immigration officer, if necessary.
- Upon entry to the U.S., students will receive a stamp in their passport indicating their date of entry, immigration status granted, and duration of stay permitted (should be D/S).
- Paper I-94 cards are no longer issued upon entry. Instead, students will need to print out their own I-94 card at www.cbp.gov/i-94
- It is always a good idea to print out the I-94 card, either on paper or in pdf format, upon each re-entry to the U.S. and save these in your permanent records. You may need that to complete tax forms and future immigration forms that require every U.S. entry and exit date.
Making Travel Plans
When making travel arrangements, exchange visitors should ask themselves:
- Do I need a new visa? How long will it take to get an appointment and be issued the visa? Within what timeframe can I change my tickets if I am delayed? Note: the visa stamp in the passport must indicate validity for multiple entries and still be valid upon return to the U.S. (If the exchange visitor has received an extension of their program end date, their visa may well have expired. Visas are not always issued for the full length of the program. There is no way to renew a visa in the U.S.)
- Do I need a new passport (passport expires in less than 6 months from re-entry date)? How long will passport processing at home or at a foreign consulate in the U.S. take?
- Is my DS-2019 still valid for at least a few weeks beyond the date of entry to the U.S. and containing a valid travel signature from the program sponsor?
- Does my layover at my Port of Entry to the U.S. (Atlanta, Miami, New York, for instance) leave enough time for immigration processing (3-5 hours)?
- Am I traveling back with anything I will need to declare in Customs? If so, allow extra time at Port of Entry when traveling back into the U.S. (Atlanta, Miami, New York, etc.)
If needed, plan appropriately for visa renewal, visiting www.travel.state.gov for an overview of the process, visa wait times, and specific U.S. consulate's web sites, noting that each country has slightly different procedures for scheduling an appointment, paying visa application fees, and processing the visa application forms
It is always advisable to have a refundable and changeable air ticket if the exchange visitor will be renewing a visa or renewing a passport while abroad. Visa delays are always possible. To renew your visa, and to re-enter the U.S., you will need to have on your person (in your carry-on luggage):
- A valid DS-2019 form with an end date in the future;
- A passport valid for at least 6 months;
- Documentation of the funding which appears on your DS-2019 form (award letter from government sponsor, FSU department, and/or personal bank statements;
- Evidence of your ties to and intent to return to your country of last permanent residence at the end of your J program (job offers, assets, immediate family members at home - not in the U.S.);
- Copies of previously issued DS-2019s and/or I-20s from other programs
And for students, only if asked to present this information, it is also helpful to have and present:
- A current official transcript
- Verification of enrollment in a full-course of study
- If in post-completion Academic Training, a letter from your employer verifying that you are currently employed, the end date of your employment, what you will be doing explained briefly in layman's terms, where you are working, and any faculty with whom you are working collaboratively, and a letter of authorization for the Academic Training from the Office for International Education.
Students should never use a tourist visa or the Visa Waiver program to enter the U.S. if they intend to continue their J program.
Travel (other than home country)
Exchange visitors traveling to locations other than their home country should check to see if the country to which they are traveling requires them to apply for a visa.
Automatic Visa Revalidation
Students whose visas have already expired may still be able to travel to Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands under a program called Automatic Visa Revalidation.
Federal regulations "permits aliens who are traveling in territories contiguous to the mainland U.S. or, in some cases, in adjacent islands and whose visas have expired to re-enter the United States without obtaining a new visa. The alien may do so provided that s/he has been outside the U.S. for not more than thirty (30) days and the alien's I-94 remains valid." Recently revised regulations also "prohibit ... re-entry using an automatically revalidated visa of any alien who has applied for a new visa while outside the United States. In order to utilize automatic visa revalidation, the student must:
- Have a return ticket for travel back into the U.S. (unless crossing at a land border);
- Have an expired non-immigrant visa;
- Have a valid passport and a valid and signed DS-2019 form. It is advisable to take evidence of financial support, which could include a bank statement or an assistantship/scholarship letter; and
- NOT be applying for a visa while traveling. Students may apply for a visa or use Automatic Visa Revalidation, but not both.
INCOMING EXCHANGE STUDENT APPLICATION FORM
*If you are applying to LRU as an exchange student through the Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration (CONAHEC) or as a student from one of our bilateral partners: University of Magdeburg-Stendal, Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, TU Dortmund University, University of the Basque Country, or the Autonomous University of Coahuila.