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J-1 Scholar FAQ

Can I work outside of my department, such as a "side job" or on-campus job? No, J-1 scholars are only permitted to work in their host departments.
What is the two year home residency requirement 212(e)? Some scholars are not eligible to change to an H, L or Permanent Residency (PF) visa for two years following the completion of their J-1 program or spend two years in their home country before applying for an immigrant visa. 
Do I need health insurance? Yes, all J-1 visa holders are required to have University and Federally approved health insurance. Please review the following information
Do I need to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee? Yes, all J-1 Scholars are required to pay the SEVIS fee. Please look at the following link for more information. 
Do I need to attend an orientation or new scholar meeting? Yes, all scholars are required to attend the J-1 Orientation. Orientations are currently held on Zoom every Tuesday at 10 am CST. Please upload your arrival documents and check-in to our office virtually. Once we review and validate your program, you will receive the link to the orientation. 
What do I do for working remotely? Please contact your department administrator and submit a remote work agreement. Once you submit a remote work agreement to your local HR, please notify our office by email
I'm planning on traveling outside of the United States. What do I need to do to reenter?
  1. Check your DS-2019 end date. If your DS-2019 will be ending about 2 weeks from your reentry date,  Customs and Border Protection may question you. They may wonder if you have enough time to finish your J-1 program. 
  2. See if your DS-2019 has a valid travel signature. You can use a travel signature for 6 months from the date it was signed. For example, if your travel signature was done on 11/01/2020, you could use that travel signature until 05/01/2021.
  3. If you need to get a travel signature, you should submit the DS-2019 Travel Signature request in Terra Dotta.
  4. Make sure your passport expiration date is more than six months into the future from your reentry date. Your J-1 visa stamp must also be valid for your reentry. This means your J-1 visa stamp cannot be expired, and you must still have entries left.
  5. Nonimmigrants who are traveling by air will have to provide documentation of both the negative COVID test and that they are either fully vaccinated or are eligible for an exception to the vaccination requirement. Nonimmigrants who wish to enter the U.S. through land borders (Canada and Mexico) must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination.
How can I renew my J-1 visa stamp? 
  • If you plan to travel and reenter the U.S. after your visa has expired OR if you have run out of entries on your visa stamp, you need to apply for a new visa stamp. You can only apply for a visa stamp outside of the U.S. at a U.S. consulate. Your visa stamp is a travel document which allows you to enter the United States with a valid DS-2019.
  • Please, check with the consulate you want to visit for specific questions about your visa stamp appointment. There is a list of U.S. consulates around the world here. 
  • You only need to have a valid J visa when you are re-entering the U.S.; you can stay in the U.S. with your valid DS-2019 while having an expired visa stamp. 
How do I invite my family members to visit?
  • Family members who are not your children (under 21) or your spouse should apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa. The B-1/B-2 visitor visa lets people visit the United States temporarily for tourism or business. IFSS does not write invitation letters for B-1/B-2 visitor visas. You can write your own invitation for any family members applying for a B-1/B-2 visa stamp.  
  • Family members from certain countries may be eligible to travel to the U.S. for visits of up to 90 days without a B-1/B-2 visa. This is done through the U.S. Department of State Visa Waiver Program. You can find a list of Visa Waiver Program countries here. 
How does my J-2 Dependent apply for work permission?
  • J-2 dependents can apply for work permission from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by using Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.
  • Your J-2 dependent can only start working after they receive the approved Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. Your J-2 must have an EAD card even for unpaid positions on campus.
  • IFSS cannot provide any help with the I-765. For more information, please visit this website. 
What should I do if I need more time to finish my J-1 program?
  • You can qualify for an extension of your DS-2019 if:
    • You have not reached the maximum time of your J category
    • You have not applied for and received a waiver of the 2 Year Rule.
  • Your sponsoring department at UW- Madison must submit an extension request to IFSS for you. Talk to your host professor or your human resources contact if you want to extend your DS-2019.  
How can I move/transfer my J-1 status to another academic institution?
  • Talk to the human resources contact in your department about transferring.
    • If your new institution has a Transfer In form, please provide it to your human resources contact. They will include it with the Transfer Out request materials.  
    • Your human resources contact will submit a J-1 Transfer Out Request in Terra Dotta.
    • An IFSS staff member will check the transfer request, contact an international advisor at your new institution, and then approve the transfer. 
  • On your transfer release date, your J-1 program will belong to your new institution. Then, your new institution will be able to print a transfer DS-2019 that shows you belong to that institution. On your transfer release date, you will no longer be connected to UW-Madison from an immigration perspective, so you should no longer work for UW-Madison unless your new institution's international office grants you permission to do this. 
What should I do if I'm finishing my J-1 program before my DS-2019 ends? 
Please talk to your host department and IFSS. Your host department may need to request a DS-2019 with a new end date. 
Can I change my status from J-1 to a different immigration status while in the United States? 
Because of the home residence requirement and other immigration laws, changing your status might not be an easy process. You may wish to speak to an attorney before changing status. 
This list is not meant to be exhaustive, please email us with any personal or additional questions.