The University of Connecticut is approved to sponsor J-1 visas for international exchange visitors to come to UConn for the purpose of fostering cultural exchange through research, teaching, interning, consulting, observing or demonstrating special knowledge or skills. ISSS is responsible for managing the visa sponsorship for your visitor on behalf of UConn, and must issue a Form DS-2019 for your incoming exchange visitor to certify institutional sponsorship of the visa BEFORE he/she can apply for the J-1 visa. If you are inviting an international visitor to your department, please work closely with ISSS well in advance of the requested program start date to ensure that your visitor’s visa and pre-arrival needs will be met in time to start their program at UConn.
Who is Eligible for a J-1 Visa?
To be eligible for a J-1 visa, an international visitor must be qualified to undertake their exchange program at UConn and meet certain criteria set by the government. The department must ensure that any visitors they invite meet these criteria before placing the DS-2019 request, and that the proposed activity here is suitable to their background, needs, and experience. Please note that tenure track positions are not eligible for J-1 visa sponsorship.
UConn is approved to sponsor exchange visitor visas in the following categories, and will assess which category to use based on the information you and your incoming exchange visitor provide:
Research Scholar: For international visitors who are here to conduct research, observe or consult in connection with a research project. Must have at least a Bachelor’s degree. Stay must be at least 3 weeks, and no longer than 5 years.
Professor: For international visitors who are here primarily to teach, lecture, observe or consult. Must have at least a Bachelor’s degree. Stay must be at least 3 weeks, and no longer than 5 years.
Short Term Scholar: For international professors or research scholars who visit short-term for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, research, or demonstrating special skills. Must have at least a Bachelor’s degree. Maximum stay is 6 months.
Specialist: For international visitors who are experts in a field of specialized knowledge or skills who visit to observe, consult, or demonstrate special knowledge or skills. Department must demonstrate how the visitor meets the qualification of expert. Maximum stay is one year; minimum length of stay must be at least 3 weeks.
Student Intern: For international students enrolled in foreign degree programs (at any degree level) who will visit to participate in an internship that fulfills an objective of the home degree program. Maximum stay is one year, per foreign degree level; minimum length of stay must be at least 3 weeks. This is the only category option for visiting students who have not yet earned a Bachelor’s degree. See link to Student Intern program information.
All incoming exchange visitors must have sufficient English proficiency to be able to conduct their exchange visitor program activity at UConn, and to conduct daily life in the U.S. This means their proficiency must not only be enough to do their invited activity, but also to go grocery shopping, engage socially with Americans, go to the doctor, and advocate for themselves, as needed.
English proficiency can be assessed through a variety of methods:
• Sufficient test score from a recognized English proficiency test accepted by UConn:
TOEFL (79), IELTS (6.5), PTE (53) or a test score meeting the Common European Framework of Reference (B1 score for non-teaching duties/B2 with Teaching Duties)
• Through an objective, documented interview conducted in English in person, or by video conferencing, or by telephone if videoconferencing is not a viable option.
• By signed documentation attesting to the exchange visitor’s proficiency from an English language school or academic institution.
If the incoming exchange visitor’s first language is English, English proficiency does not need to be assessed through one of the above methods.
All incoming exchange visitors must demonstrate their ability to meet all estimated program and living expenses prior to Form DS-2019 issuance. Exchange visitors must show available funding to cover the entire duration of their program at UConn. The minimum amount that visiting scholars must demonstrate is:
Single exchange visitor: $1,800 USD/month
Exchange visitor and spouse: $2,850 USD/month
Accompanying children: $600 USD/month per child
ISSS will assess the acceptability of an incoming exchange visitor’s funding support documents, but departments must collect this from the incoming visitor prior to requesting the Form DS-2019.
Hosting Department Responsibilities
Purpose of Program: The purpose of the J-1 visa is to promote greater mutual understanding between people of the United States and other nations through the exchange of culture and knowledge. While your exchange visitor is allowed to be employed by the University as part of their exchange program activity (for example, as a visiting Professor, a Post Doc or a paid researcher), the J-1 visa is not intended to facilitate employment.
Cross Cultural Interaction: The hosting department must offer your exchange visitor opportunity for meaningful interaction with Americans as part of the exchange program experience. This could be done within the contact of the exchange program activity (for example, ensuring that your visiting scholar has the chance to attend department meetings and events of interest with American faculty and students, or to present their research) or outside of formal exchange program activity (for example, inviting your exchange visitor over for dinner with your family).
Housing, Transportation and other Logistics: The hosting department is responsible for assisting the incoming exchange visitor to make housing and transportation arrangements prior to arrival. Please be mindful that due to limited transportation, and the great difficulty for international visitors to obtain driver’s licenses and vehicles, that every effort should be made to find housing within close distance to campus. The Provost’s office has limited housing available for visiting scholars: http://policy.uconn.edu/2011/06/09/visiting-scholarsfaculty-housing-policy/. ISSS provides information on public transportation from local airports to the UConn Campus, under “Resources” and “Getting to UConn”.
Net ID and University Email: In order for your exchange visitor to participate in University life it is essential that they be assigned a Net ID and UConn email address. If your exchange visitor is coming on a paid appointment, these will be set up through the payroll approval process. However, if your visitor will not receive payment from UConn, then you must start the process to obtain the Net ID and UConn email address as soon as possible after receiving the Form DS-2019. Please refer to “Gratis Appointments section” in the “DS-2019 Request Procedures – Step by Step” below for more information.
Communicate Changes to ISSS: It is very important to maintain communication with ISSS regarding the welfare of your visiting scholars, or any changes in their program activity, location or dates. You must inform ISSS right away if your exchange visitor is unable to participate in their exchange program, or must leave earlier than anticipated. For Departments to have a sense of what changes may need to be communicated to ISSS, please refer to the section below labeled “J-1 Rules and Regulations: For Departments”.
ISSS Check In: Upon arrival to the University, please send your exchange visitor to ISSS during business hours for the mandatory “Check In”. Scholars who fail to check in within the first 30 days of their exchange program will have their SEVIS record/DS-2019 terminated, and they must depart the U.S. If your exchange visitor is based at a regional campus, then the department must confirm the exchange visitor’s arrival with ISSS and assist the exchange visitor to submit by email the required Check In documentation to ISSS. See http://isss.uconn.edu/check-in/ for further details.
Amend Program Dates: If your incoming exchange visitor is unable to arrive by their program start date listed in their offer letter and on Form DS-2019, the department must request an amended Form DS-2019 through the ISSS “Amend Program” web form before the start date. Please upload a copy of the new offer letter with your Amend Program request, and be sure to change the end date if that will be adjusted as well. ISSS will notify you when the new Form DS-2019 is ready for pick up.
Program Extensions: If you would like to invite your exchange visitor to stay longer than the period of time listed in their original appointment/DS-2019, the department must request an extension of the exchange visitor’s program BEFORE the DS-2019 expiration date. See the “Extend Program” link for full details on extension procedures.
Annual Department Report: All departments who have hosted a visiting scholar within a 12 month period will be required to submit a short report to ISSS by June 15th. This report will include information on how the hosting department provided opportunities for cross cultural exchange to their visiting scholars, and any noteworthy activities or impressions from your exchange visitors’ stay. The information you provide will be reported by ISSS to the U.S. Department of State in the Annual J-1 Exchange Visitor Report.
J-1 Rules and Regulations: For Departments
Location of Activity: Your J-1 exchange visitor’s exchange program activity must be based at UConn. Any exceptions to this must be justified by the hosting academic department and approved in advance by ISSS. Should your exchange visitor need to conduct “Off Site Activity” at another location, it must be in connection to their UConn program and approved in advance.
Employment: J-1 exchange visitors may not be employed except within the capacity of the J-1 program activity they were invited here to do (example: adjunct faculty or post-doc). If you decide to pay your exchange visitor for work that was originally unpaid, you must provide an updated offer letter to ISSS so that we can record this on the exchange visitor’s Form DS-2019. Once you offer payment to an exchange visitor for their work, this cannot later switch to an unpaid position.
Patient/Client Care Contact: Please note that the U.S. Department of State (DOS) explicitly prohibits J-1 visa holders to be involved in any activities that require patient or client contact or care, including providing therapy, medication or other clinical/medical care. DOS officials have listed the following fields as examples that may have this type of activity: sports/physical therapy, psychological counseling, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, social work, speech therapy, pharmacy or early childhood education.
Occasional Lectures/Short Term Consultations: It may be possible for your exchange visitor to give occasional lectures or perform short term consultations at off-campus locations. Such activity must be approved in advance by ISSS and the UConn hosting department must provide documentation supporting the request.
Classes: Your exchange visitor may not take classes. This includes course auditing, non-degree registration and “sitting in” on class sessions.
Dates of Exchange Program: Exchange visitors are expected to conducting their scholarly activity during the dates listed on their UConn offer letter. Those dates do not have to match their planned arrival/departure date. They may enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the start date of their offer letter in order to settle in, and they may stay in the U.S. up to 30 days after their contract end date to travel within the U.S., prepare for departure, and pursue non-academic or personal activities.
Travel outside the U.S.: UConn hosting departments must approve all international travel taking place during their exchange visitors’ program prior to departure. Exchange visitor travel both within and outside the U.S. should not exceed 30 days for any one trip in order to maintain their active status in the exchange program.
Insurance Requirements: All exchange visitors and their accompanying dependents are responsible to have insurance coverage meeting U.S. Department of State benefit requirements. Your exchange visitor’s insurance must be effective during their program dates, although it is strongly recommended that they maintain such insurance for all dates present in the United States. ISSS provides insurance information to your exchange visitor with their pre-arrival information.
Accompanying Dependents: Your exchange visitors may bring with them their qualifying dependents on J-2 visas. Qualifying dependent status means a spouse, or unmarried children under the age of 21. Dependents may enroll in school, study part- or full-time, and may apply for a work permit from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, provided that the basis of work is not financial need. Exchange visitors can contact ISSS for further information or refer to the ISSS webpage information for visiting scholars.
Immigration Related Services and Advising: ISSS provides all immigration related advising to your exchange visitor (see above). Please be sure to refer your exchange visitor directly to ISSS for ALL questions that may be related to the J-1 visa program rules. If you are unsure if an issue or question could have an impact on their immigration status, always check with ISSS.
J-1 Exchange Visitor Orientation: ISSS provides a required orientation for new visitors to the J-1 Visa Program on the first Friday of each month. When your exchange visitor checks in with our office, we will sign them up for the next available orientation. Please allow your exchange visitor time to attend this critical orientation program.
Driving, Taxes, SSN: ISSS will provide basic information to your exchange visitor about driving in the United States, filing required tax forms, and applying for a Social Security Number (if eligible). If your exchange visitor will be paid by the department, they must also meet with Karla Desjardins in payroll upon arrival to go over the necessary tax related paperwork. While ISSS provides basic information on tax requirements as a courtesy to exchange visitors, we are not tax experts and cannot provide tax advising or counseling. We do however coordinate with the UConn School of Business and the IRS VITA program an annual tax services session during which VITA volunteers can prepare your exchange visitor’s required tax forms. ISSS also provides at the beginning of each semester a “Services Day” event when local social security officers come to ISSS to accept SSN applications from international students and scholars.
Events and Programs for International Scholars: ISSS sponsors regular events throughout the year such as International Chat, Coffee Hour, trips and holiday related events. We encourage our exchange visitors to take part in these events, and also to come to the ISSS lounge to relax and meet other students and scholars on campus.
DS-2019 Request Procedures – Step by Step
Complete HR Processes
- Create an offer letter based on an established HR title, see: "Titles, Attributes, Definitions and Uses"/offer letter (can be gratis appointment) for your incoming exchange visitor. Please be sure to have any special approval processes (i.e. SPAR) done well in advance of the start date to ensure enough time for DS-2019/visa processing.
- Gratis appointments: If your Exchange Visitor will come on a Gratis Appointment, the SPAR does not have to be completed. However, departments must still choose a valid Special Payroll title for your gratis appointee, and submit the Gratis SmartHR transaction along with an uploaded signed offer letter in order for your incoming exchange visitor to obtain a University NetID.
Please submit this transaction well in advance of your exchange visitor’s start date. The SmartHR transaction requires the Exchange Visitor’s SSN. If the exchange visitor does not have an SSN, you may wait to receive the exchange visitor’s Form DS-2019 with attached “International Visiting Scholar Information Form”, which includes a Temporary National ID number that can be used in place of an SSN on the SmartHR Transaction.*Please note, the “Addendum to Gratis Appointment for J-1 Exchange Visitors” is no longer required. See the job aid for hiring Special Payroll employees into Core-CT.pdf.
Request Form DS-2019 from ISSS
- Before your exchange visitor can apply for their visa, ISSS must issue a Form DS-2019 for your incoming exchange visitor and any accompanying family members who qualify for dependent visas. The Form DS-2019 is requested through an online form accessible by Net ID. The form is available on this webpage above in the menu option labeled “Online Request Form.”
- Prepare the following DS-2019 request form support documents, to be uploaded with your online DS-2019 request. These include:
•Exchange Visitor Information Form ISSS 266.pdf (To be completed by the Exchange Visitor)
• DS-2019 Department Support Documents ISSS 271.pdf (To be completed by the Supervising Faculty Member and Department Head)
• Copy of exchange visitor’s passport
• Copy of dependents’ passports (if applicable)
• Copy of UConn offer letter
• Supporting financial documents, required if: UConn does not provide funding for the exchange program, if UConn funding is not sufficient to meet the estimated expenses for the program, or if the exchange visitor will receive financial sponsorship from any other sponsoring institutions/organizations.
• Supplemental forms for J-1 Student Interns ONLY (Required if your incoming Exchange Visitor is at the Bachelor’s level and meets all eligibility for the Student Intern program)
- Sponsoring Department’s Attestation for J-1 Student Intern Request ISSS 259.pdf (To be completed by Department)
- J-1 Student Intern Home Institution Certification ISSS 260.pdf (To be completed by student’s home institution Academic Dean or Academic Advisor)
- DS-7002.pdf To be completed first by UConn internship site (hosting department), then emailed to student for completion of student section, THEN submitted to ISSS. Please note: J-1 student interns must have paid positions at UConn because the Department of State requirement that student interns be covered by worker’s compensation policy. See Student Intern Program Information and the Guide to Submitting Form DS-7002 in the menu above.
- Complete the Online DS-2019 request form. Upload the required support documents into the form.
- After your submission is reviewed, you will receive an email from the system either confirming that your submission is complete, or requesting further documents.
- If your exchange visitor is here on a gratis appointment, complete the necessary SPAR form to obtain a NetID for your exchange visitor.
Send Form DS-2019 to your Exchange Visitor
- ISSS will notify the hosting department when the Form DS-2019 is ready for pick up. Processing can take up to two weeks from the time the completed application is received. If the documents are missing or require further clarification, the process can take longer. Departments should mail all Forms DS-2019, with the attached “International Visiting Scholar Information Form”, to your exchange visitor.
- Please mail your Forms DS-2019 to the exchange visitor using a trackable, express mail service.
- ISSS sends the exchange visitor a pre-arrival email notification that informs the exchange visitor how to make their visa appointment, and other important information needed to make arrangements before departing their home countries.
Update ISSS with Changes
- If your exchange visitor is unable to arrive by the start date of their program listed on the Form DS-2019 and offer letter, you must notify ISSS before the start date. Please use the “Amend DS-2019 Form” link to request that a new form be issued with new start/end dates. You will need to upload a copy of the updated offer letter, signed by the department, with the amend request.
Check In with ISSS upon Arrival
- Upon arrival, your exchange visitor is required to check in at ISSS, bringing their Form DS-2019, passport, and proof of insurance with them. Failure to check in within 30 days of their program start date will lead to a termination of their J-1 visa/SEVIS record.