J-1 visa processing at a U.S. consular office
You must obtain an J-1 visa in order to seek admission to the U.S. to conduct research, teach, consult or engage in long-term observation, unless you are a citizen of Canada or Bermuda. Citizens of Canada or Bermuda do not require J-1 visas but must present appropriate means of documentation at the U.S. port-of-entry to seek admission in J-1 status.

To apply for a J-1 visa, you must provide the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with Form DS-2019, passport, proof of funding, and other documents as required by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. In the case of Canadian and Bermudan citizens, you must use your Form DS-2019 to seek admission to the U.S. in J-1 status at a U.S. port-of-entry without a J-1 visa. Read page 2 of your Form DS-2019, examine the information on page 1 for accuracy, and sign the exchange visitor certification block on the bottom of page 1 prior to presentation to a U.S. consular official or immigration official.

The U.S. visa tells you until what date you may enter the United States. The expiration date of the visa has nothing to do with how long you may remain in the United States. That is determined by your DS-2019 and I-94. You need to renew the visa only if you are traveling abroad after the visa expiration date, so that you may again enter the U.S.

Specific information on J-1 visa application at U.S. Embassies and Consulates is available at the following address: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html
The websites of U.S. embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions is available at the following address: http://www.usembassy.gov

You cannot enter the U.S. on a B-2 (tourist) visa and expect to change to J-1 visa status after you arrive. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will likely deny this request, and you will have to leave the U.S. to obtain a proper visa. Also, you cannot enter the U.S. on a visa waiver and change to J-1 status after your arrival. Persons who enter the U.S. on a visa waiver are not eligible for change of status in the U.S.

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SEVIS Fee Requirement
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires J-1 visa applicants to pay a one-time fee to supplement the administration and maintenance costs of the Student and Exchange Information System (SEVIS). For information on who is subject to the SEVIS fee requirement and for SEVIS fee payment options, J-1visa applicants should read SEVIS Fee Payment Options for J-1 Exchange Visitors.

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Admission to the United States in J-1 Status
This section will provide you with information regarding reentering the U.S. after a temporary absence. If you plan to leave the U.S. and return to the University of Miami, you must have the necessary documents to permit entry to another country and reentry to the U.S.

Entry to another country
If you wish to temporarily visit your country of citizenship or permanent residency, you will be allowed to enter that country if you hold a valid passport. Before temporarily visiting a country other than your country of citizenship or permanent residency, you must check on entry visa requirements for said country. The addresses and phone numbers of all foreign embassies located in Washington D.C. are listed on the following website: http://www.embassy.org

Reentry to the U.S.
To reenter the U.S. after a temporary absence (i.e., an absence of five months of less), you must have a valid passport, valid J-1 visa, and a properly endorsed Form DS-2019.

Properly endorsed Form DS-2019: If you have already used your Form DS-2019 to enter the U.S. once, then you must have page 1 of your Form DS-2019 endorsed by your J-1 Responsible Officer (your International Student and Scholar, ISSS, Advisor if you are sponsored by UM). Your ISSS advisor will automatically endorse page 1 of your Form DS-2019 for travel during scholar orientation. For any subsequent travel endorsements of your Form DS-2019, please contact your ISSS advisor by telephone or e-mail. Your ISSS advisor will provide you with an appointment with her to have Form DS-2019 endorsed again. Page 1 of your Form DS-2019, when properly endorsed, may be used for reentry to engage in research, teach, consult or engage in long-term observation after a temporary absence from the U.S. Each certification signature is valid for only one year from date of signature, or until the Form DS-2019 expiration date, whichever comes first. For J-1 exchange visitors in the short-term scholar category, each certification signature is valid for only six months from date of signature, or until the Form DS-2019 expiration date, whichever comes first.
If your J-1 program is not sponsored by the University of Miami, then you must ask your J-1 program's Responsible Officer to endorse your Form DS-2019 for travel. Your ISSS advisor will not be able to endorse your Form DS-2019.

Valid Passport: You must have a passport that is kept valid at all times while you are in the U.S. If your passport will expire within six months, contact your embassy in the U.S. (http://www.embassy.org) and make arrangements to renew as soon as possible.

Valid J-1 visa: You must have a valid J-1 visa in your passport. If your visa has expired, you will need to make arrangements to renew your visa at the American Consulate/Embassy overseas.

Documents you will need for visa issuance: You will need a valid passport, a current photograph, a properly endorsed Form DS-2019, proof of financial capability for continuing research, teaching, consultation or long-term observation, and continued nonimmigrant intent. Please check the Department of State website to inquire what other documents you may need.

Where to apply: Although you may be able to secure an original or renewal of a J-1 visa in a foreign country other than your own, your chances of being issued a J-1 visa are greatest when you apply at a U.S. consular office in your country of citizenship or permanent residency. You may face more stringent requirements in a third country and should allow more time in case of delays. It is not possible to obtain a J-1 visa in the U.S.

When to apply: You usually cannot apply for a new visa until 90 days before the expiration of the old one.

Visa voidance: If you have overstayed or been unlawfully present during your research, teaching, consultation or long-term observation immediately prior to leaving the U.S., you might be subject to visa voidance. Such overstayer exchange visitors would be subject to payment of the $180 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee and would need to obtain a new J-1 visa stamp in the home country in order to reenter the U.S. The SEVIS fee must be paid online through use of a credit card, locally using the Western Union Quick Pay service, or by mail through use of a check or money order at least three days prior to the date SEVIS fee payment verification is required by the U.S. Consular Office. ISSS highly recommends that you file and pay the required SEVIS fee online with a credit card or in person through the Western Union Quick Pay service instead of by mail with a check or money order since the online option and the Western Union Quick Pay option result in speedier processing of your required fee payment. Please ask your ISSS Advisor for detailed information on options for payment of the SEVIS fee.

"Automatic revalidation of visa" benefit: Under certain circumstances, you may reenter the U.S. with an expired visa as though the visa were still valid. An expired J-1 visa may be considered to be automatically extended to the date of application for readmission to the U.S. (and therefore the visa in the passport need not have an expiration date that is in the future), provided you do the following:
  1. Apply for readmission to U.S. after an absence not exceeding 30 days in contiguous territory (Canada or Mexico) or adjacent islands (Saint Pierre, Miquelon, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea other than Cuba);
  2. Maintain lawful J-1 status and intend to continue doing so;
  3. Present a valid passport containing Form I-94 which authorizes a stay beyond the date of entry (e.g., D/S);
  4. Present a properly endorsed Form DS-2019.
Under these circumstances, you may be saved the necessity of applying for a new J-1 visa even if your visa has expired. An exchange visitor whose visa has been canceled or voided is not eligible for automatic revalidation of visa benefit. Citizens of "state sponsors of terrorism" cannot take advantage of the automatic revalidation benefit. Any non-immigrant who chooses to apply for a new visa while in contiguous territory is not eligible for the automatic revalidation benefit during the course of that trip, but has to wait until the visa is granted in order to enter the U.S.

Transfers: If you have lawfully transferred schools while in the U.S., the visa will specify the school for which it was initially issued. In this instance you may reenter with an unexpired J-1 visa and Form DS-2019 from the new school without having the new school's name endorsed on the visa.

Status Violation and Travel: If you have violated your J-1 immigration status prior to traveling abroad and wish to seek reentry to the U.S. with a new Form DS-2019 to resume your J-1 status, you must pay the $180 SEVIS fee prior to being able to seek reentry to the U.S. with proper documentation.

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Documents Needed for Your ISSS File
You are required by law to provide International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) with copies of the following documents (yours as well as documents of any dependents in J-2 status, if applicable) for your file:
  • Passport
  • Form I-94
  • Form DS-2019
  • J-1 visa
You must bring these documents to ISSS when you come to ISSS to attend your scholar orientation.
You must provide ISSS with any updates to the information contained in the documents listed above throughout your J-1 program at the University of Miami. You are also required to update ISSS with information pertaining to your program termination date and reason (transfer, dismissal, withdrawal), and other information such as financial status necessary for document issuance. Also, be certain to inform ISSS via e-mail within 10 days of moving if you change your local address during the course of your J-1 program at the University of Miami and to update your local address in the University Records or you will fail to receive important information from the University of Miami. You can update your address information in the University's Records through the CaneLink system.
ISSS is located at 5600 Merrick Drive, Building 21-F, and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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Change to J-1 status in the United States
In order to apply for a change to J-1 status, you must complete and submit the following documents to International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), and ISSS will forward them to the appropriate U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Lockbox for adjudication. CIS takes three months or more to adjudicate an application for change of status to J-1.
  1. Receipt for payment of $180.00 SEVIS fee. The SEVIS fee must be paid online through use of a credit card, locally using the Western Union Quick Pay service, or by mail through use of a check or money order. ISSS highly recommends that you file and pay the required SEVIS fee online with a credit card or in person through the Western Union Quick Pay service instead of by mail with a check or money order since the online option as well as the Western Union Quick Pay service option result in speedier processing of your required fee payment. Online payment option: To pay the SEVIS fee online and obtain the required receipt for payment, you must (1) complete and submit the Form I-901 online at www.fmjfee.com with the required Visa, MasterCard or American Express information for payment of the $180.00 SEVIS fee (please make sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your Form DS-2019); and (2) print a copy of the online payment receipt for your records and for submission of your application for change of status.
    Western Union Quick Pay Option: To pay the SEVIS fee through Western Union Quick Pay and obtain the required receipt for payment, you must (1) print out and bring a copy of the instructions for SEVIS Form I-901 fee payment by Western Union Quick Pay along with a copy of the sample form, Form DS-2019, and the $180.00 SEVIS fee, to a local participating Western Union Agent location (instructions and sample form can be found online; the nearest Western Union Agent location can be found online; (2) request and complete the Blue Form at the Western Union Agent location according to the instructions provided on the SEVIS website; (3) submit the Blue Form and $180.00 SEVIS fee to the Western Union Agent who will transmit the payment and information on your behalf; and (4) obtain the properly completed Western Union receipt for your records and for submission of your application for change of status.
    Mail payment option: To pay the SEVIS fee by mail and to obtain the required receipt for payment, you must (1) download and print Form I-901, available at www.fmjfee.com; (2) complete Form I-901 (please make sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your Form DS-2019); (3) prepare a check or money order in the amount of $180.00 payable to the "Department of Homeland Security;" (4) mail the completed Form I-901 and payment to I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee, P.O. Box 970020, St. Louis, MO 63197-0020, or, for expedited delivery of your payment, mail the completed Form I-901 and payment to I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee, 1005 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63101, United States, Phone number: 1-314-418-8833 (U.S. country code: 011); and (5) wait for Form I-797 receipt notice for your records and for submission of your application for change of status.
    Please note that payment coupons are generated only when you complete your Form I-901 online and choose to pay by check or money order, in which case you should print and mail the coupon with your payment. You will not need to fill in a paper Form I-901 as well. When your payment is received at the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), the coupon will be used to match your payment to the information you entered.
    Whether you pay online with a credit card, in person through the Western Union Quick Pay service, or by mail through of check or money order, please note that the website dedicated to the I-901 fee (www.fmjfee.com) allows you to verify online that your SEVIS I-901 fee payment has been received and when the official receipt for the payment was issued.
    For detailed and helpful information on the SEVIS fee, required Form I-901 information, payment options, processing times and other related issues, please read the information provided through the SEVP website.
  2. Form I-539 (Also available from ISSS).
  3. Form G-1145: (Also available from ISSS). Applicants filing a Form I-539 at a USCIS Lockbox facility may elect to receive an e-mail and/or text message notifying them that their application has been accepted.
  4. Original Form DS-2019 (you must sign and date the exchange visitor certification section on the bottom of page 1 of your Form DS-2019).
  5. Photocopy of your Form I-94 and copies of Forms I-94 of any dependants.
  6. Photocopy of financial support documents for yourself and any dependants.
  7. Letter addressed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requesting the change of status, and explaining why the change is needed.
  8. Photocopy of your passport and passports of any dependents (include photo page, biographical page, expiration date page, entry visa page and page bearing stamp of last entry to the U.S.).
  9. Copy of current registration, if available.
  10. Money order for $300.00 made payable to the "Department of Homeland Security."
If you are in a status in which you are not authorized to work (e.g., F-2), you may not be employed in any capacity until you receive notification from USCIS that your status has been changed to J-1. This process can take several months.
If your change of status application is denied, you may be required to leave the United States on short notice and obtain an J-1 visa (usually in your home country), and re-enter the U.S.

Please note:

Change from B-2 Status to J-1 Status
If you request a change from B-2 (tourist) status to J-1, be aware that this change is normally denied, unless the B-2 visa bears the notation "prospective student." If your request is denied, you must leave the U.S. and obtain a J-1 visa (usually in your home country), and re-enter the U.S. You are not permitted to enroll in classes until such time as USCIS has approved your change of status to J-1 or you have obtained a J-1 visa and entered the U.S. in J-1 status.

Visa Waiver Program "WT"
Also, if you entered the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, designated "WT," you may not request any change of status in the U.S., but must follow the same procedure described above in case of denial of the change of status from B-2. The Visa Waiver Program allows nationals of some countries to enter the U.S. without a tourist visa and to remain for 90 days without being able to extend their stay, change status, be employed or enroll in classes in the U.S.

Change from a Dependent (J-2) Status to J-1 Status
If you request a change from a nonimmigrant dependent (e.g., J-2 spouse) to J-1 status, you must provide additional documents to USCIS such as copies of your spouse's (e.g., J-1 status) Form I-94, Form DS-2019, school transcript, proof of enrollment, passport and visa entry page.Please note that a J-2 dependent who has been in J-2 status for more than six months is not eligible for a change of status to J-1 or J-1 visa in the research scholar or professor program categories. Also, a J-2 dependent who is subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement is not eligible for a change of status to J-1.
If your change of status application is denied, you may be required to leave the United States on short notice and obtain an J-1 visa (usually in your home country), and re-enter the U.S.