J-1 Exchange Visitor Categories at UW

The US Department of State (DOS) requires that J-1 Exchange Visitors coming to perform research or teaching at the UW be assigned a “category” which reflects their academic activities on campus. Federal regulations give us these categories to choose from:

These categories are not UW academic appointment titles, but all J-1 visas will be assigned one of these categories. When selecting the category, International Scholars Operations (ISO) considers the Exchange Visitor’s academic background, UW appointment title, position responsibilities, immigration history, possibility of repeat visits to the US, and anticipated length of stay. The category that best meets the needs of the sponsoring department and most accurately reflects the Exchange Visitor’s primary activity at the UW is stated in item 4 of the Exchange Visitor’s DS-2019 form. The Exchange Visitor’s UW appointment title is not listed on the DS-2019. The categories are described below:

Research Scholar/Professor

Qualifications: The DOS requires Exchange Visitors in the Research Scholar/Professor category to have academic credentials (generally at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent) and experience appropriate to the field of endeavor. Exchange Visitors must additionally qualify for the UW appointment title offered to them.

Activity: The activity must be full-time and temporary. Emphasis on research, observation or consultation, but may also teach and lecture if the UW appointment title permits this.

Length of Stay: The minimum stay in the US is three weeks, and the maximum stay is five years. No extension beyond five years is possible. Research Scholars/Professors have a 30 day grace period after their program ends to leave the US.

Eligibility for Repeat Participation: Exchange Visitors who complete a J-1 program in the Research Scholar/Professor category, regardless of the program’s duration, incur a two-year window of ineligibility before a new program in the Research Scholar/Professor category can begin. Exchange Visitors (including J-2 dependents) in any category except Short-Term Scholar incur a one-year window of ineligibility before beginning a program in the Research Scholar/Professor category if they were in the US at any time during the 12-month period immediately prior to the start of the new program unless the total stay was less than six months. The one-year bar does not apply to those who are subject to the two-year bar. In other words, individuals who are subject to the two-year bar are not additionally subject to the one-year bar. Neither the two-year nor the one-year bar to eligibility for the Research Scholar/Professor category apply to exchange visitors who transfer to the UW from another institution within the US to continue their current J-1 program.

Short Term Scholar

Qualifications: Department of State requires Exchange Visitors in the Short-Term Scholar category to have academic credentials (generally at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent) and experience appropriate to the field of endeavor. Exchange Visitors must additionally qualify for the UW appointment title offered to them.

Activity: The activity must be full-time and temporary. Short-Term Scholars may teach, lecture, observe, consult or perform research, and participate in seminars, workshops, conferences and other types of educational or professional activities.

Length of Stay: Short-Term Scholars may participate in the exchange visitor program for the length of time necessary to complete the program, not to exceed six months. Extensions beyond six months are not permitted. Short-Term Scholars have a 30 day grace period after their program ends to leave the US

Eligibility for Repeat Participation: Regulations permit individuals who have previously participated in an exchange visitor program in the Short-Term Scholar category to begin a new program in any category without delay. Departments which invite exchange visitors for 6 months or less but anticipate extending their stay beyond 6 months should request the Research Scholar/Professor category instead of the Short-Term Scholar category. Departments which invite exchange visitors for 6 months or less and do not plan to extend them beyond six months should request the Short-Term Scholar category, especially if future visits to the US in the J-1 Professor or Research Scholar categories are anticipated within the next two years.

The Department of State, which administers the exchange visitor program, has indicated that repeat participation in the Short-Term Scholar category is allowed only when the proposed new activity differs substantially from the prior activity. UW departments sponsoring exchange visitors for repeat visits in the Short-Term Scholar category should include with the J Visa Request a memorandum explaining the differences between the prior and the proposed new activity (for example, that there is a change in the subject matter, or that the research project is entering into a new stage.)

Specialist

Qualifications: Exchange Visitors in the Specialist category must have academic credentials and experience appropriate to the field of endeavor. Additionally, they must qualify for the UW appointment title offered to them. This category requires ISO approval prior to submission of a J-1 visa request.

Activity: Specialists are experts in a field of specialized knowledge or skill coming to the US to demonstrate their special knowledge/skills, or to observe or consult with colleagues.

Length of Stay: Specialists may participate in the exchange visitor program for the length of time necessary to complete the program, not to exceed twelve months. A minimum stay of three weeks is required.

Eligibility for Repeat Participation: Regulations permit individuals who have previously participated in any exchange visitor program to begin a new program in the Specialist category without delay. Individuals who completed an exchange visitor program in the Specialist category may be delayed in beginning a new program in the Research Scholar or Professor categories because of the 12-month bar.

Student

Qualifications for students enrolled at the University of Washington

Qualifications for students performing an internship at the University of Washington