J-1 Reference Guide

You are joining several hundred international scholars from around the world who participate in the University of Washington’s teaching and research activities. You bring not just your skills and knowledge to our campus but your culture and traditions as well, and when you return home, taking your “Husky experience” with you, the ties between the United States and your nation will be strengthened.

  • Certificate of Eligibility, Form DS-2019
  • J-1 categories of participation
  • 12 and 24 months “bars” on repeat participation
  • Two-year home country physical presence requirement
  • Program duration and extension of stay
  • Your workplace rights
  • Overview of the visa process
  • The SEVIS fee
  • Initial documentation
  • At the port of entry
  • Returning after a temporary absence
  • Transportation to campus from the airport
  • Required check-in at ISO (Gerberding Hall, Room 239)
  • Housing
  • UW identification (Husky Card)
  • Washington State driver’s license/identification card
  • Cross-cultural activities
  • Form DS-2019
  • Effect of J-1 departure on J-2’s status
  • Termination of status
  • Childcare for young children
  • Children and schools
  • Study in J-2 status
  • Employment for J-2 dependents
  • Family activities
  • Two-year home country physical presence requirement

Money Matters

  • J-1 employment
  • J-2 employment
  • Taxes
  • Banking
  • Expenses
  • Managing your finances
  • Social Security number
  • Helpful websites
  • Insurance requirement
  • Make insurance arrangements before coming to US
  • “Statement of Compliance”
  • Healthcare in Seattle
  •     Emergency planning
  • Mandatory check-in requirement
  • Change of address
  • Don’t let your DS-2019 expire
  • Don’t let your passport expire
  • Work only with authorization
  • Maintain health insurance
  •     30 – day “grace period”
  •     Registration Documentation
  • Travel within the US
  • Transfer of program
  • Transferring to the UW
  • Transferring out of the UW
  •     Leaving the UW: Important visa and tax information

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The Exchange Visitor Program

The University of Washington (commonly called “U-Dub”) has been designated by the Department of State as an exchange visitor program sponsor. Please see the Department of State’s Welcome Brochure. The UW sponsors Exchange Visitors for a variety of educational purposes including teaching, research, observation, consultation, and student internships.

Certificate of Eligibility, Form DS-2019

The DS-2019 is your certificate of eligibility for exchange visitor status at the University of Washington. Check this document for accuracy, carefully read the instructions on page 2, then sign and date it. The DS-2019 was issued by an adviser (“Responsible Officer”) in the International Scholars Operations (ISO), and records your biographical data, identifies your UW academic department, and lists the beginning and ending dates of your exchange program, category of participation, and source and amount of funding. The DS-2019 serves several important purposes (for example, permitting you to apply for a visa) and must remain valid at all times. Keep every DS-2019 for your permanent record – do not discard the old ones.

J-1 Categories of participation

You have been assigned a J-1 “category of participation,” based on the nature and duration of your activity at the UW. This category is indicated in item 4 of your DS-2019 and should not be confused with your UW academic appointment title.  Exchange visitor categories available to international scholars at the UW include: Professor, Research Scholar, Short-Term Scholar, Specialist, and Student Intern. Your activities in the US must remain consistent with your category. You will not be able to change your category after you have entered the US.

12 and 24 month “bars” on repeat participation

Time spent in the US as a J-1 or J-2 might affect your eligibility for future J-1 status. The 12 and 24 month “bars” apply only to persons beginning an Exchange Visitor program in the categories of Research Scholar or Professor.

Two-year home country physical presence requirement

Exchange Visitors subject to the 212(e) two-year home country physical presence requirement must return to their home countries and be physically present there for an aggregate of two years before being eligible to return to the US in H, L, or immigrant (permanent resident/green card) status.

Program duration and extension of stay

The duration of your program is stated in item 3 of the DS-2019. ISO has the discretion to extend your program participation to the limit allowed by law (up to five years for persons in the Professor and Research Scholar categories, up to six months for persons in the Short-Term Scholar category, up to one year for persons in the Specialist category, and up to one year for persons in the Student Intern category). To request an extension, the sponsoring academic department submits the UW J Visa Request Form. ISO then issues a new DS-2019 reflecting the extension.

If you apply for a waiver of the two-year home country physical presence requirement, your DS-2019 cannot be extended beyond its current expiration date.

Following completion of the program, you are no longer in J status. However, immigration law allows a 30-day “grace period” beyond the program completion date to settle your affairs and return home. During the grace period employment is not permitted and if you depart the US you cannot return in J status.

Your workplace rights

Please review your workplace rights in the United States.

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Coming to the US

Whoever said that “getting there is half the fun” never applied for a visa. The process is complex, expensive, time-consuming, but worth the effort! Read the following information carefully, maintain a positive attitude, and don’t lose your sense of humor. Keep in mind that hundreds of J-1 Exchange Visitors arrive in Seattle every year. Soon, you will too!

Overview of the visa process

A “visa” is a stamp on a page of the passport that allows you to travel to the border of the US, where you ask an immigration officer for permission to enter the US. The visa includes biographical data, visa type (J-1 or J-2), location of the visa issuing office, date of issuance, number of entries allowed (or “M” for multiple entries), expiration date, photograph and fingerprint.

Applicants for visas are interviewed by a US consular officer. During the brief interview, you must satisfy the officer that you will leave the US at the conclusion of your visit. Schedule your interview appointment as early as possible, and know that consulates charge a fee for issuing the visa which is in addition to the SEVIS fee. If possible, apply for the visa at a consulate in your home country. The visa does not need to remain valid after you have used it to enter the US. Your DS-2019 and passport, however, must remain valid at all times.

  • To apply for the J-1 visa, present the DS-2019, a receipt confirming payment of the SEVIS fee, evidence of funding, and passport to the nearest US embassy or consulate. Anticipate delays due to security reviews. The consular officer may return the DS-2019 to you in a sealed envelope. Do not open this envelope!
  • Applicants for J-2 dependent visas present to the consular officer their DS-2019s, passports, and evidence of family relationship (marriage certificate if spouse of the J-1, or birth certificate if child of the J-1).
  • Canadian citizens do not require visas, but must present the DS-2019 and receipt showing payment of the SEVIS fee to the immigration officer upon entry into the US.

The $180 SEVIS fee

SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, is a government database that maintains and manages information on exchange visitors during their stay in the US. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires payment of a $180 SEVIS fee to cover operational costs of the SEVIS program.

  • Who must pay the fee? New J-1 Exchange Visitors who use a Form DS-2019 to “begin a new program” are required to pay the fee.
  • Who does not have to pay the fee? Continuing J-1 Exchange Visitors do not pay the fee. Dependents in J-2 status do not pay the fee.
  • When does the fee need to be paid? The fee must be paid at least three days prior to applying for a J-1 visa at a US consulate (or, for Canadian citizens, three days prior to entering the US).
  • How is the SEVIS fee paid? The SEVIS fee can be paid on-line with a credit card, or by mail with a check, or by using Western Union’s “Quick Pay” service. Another person can pay the fee on your behalf.
  • Will I be issued a receipt? Yes. You must present the receipt to the consular officer when applying for a visa, and to the immigration officer when entering the US. We suggest you staple the receipt to your DS-2019.

Initial documentation

To enter the US in order to begin an exchange visitor program, carry the following documents:

  • Passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay
  • J-1 (or J-2) visa stamp. (Canadian citizens are visa-exempt.)
  • Form DS-2019
  • Receipt evidencing payment of the SEVIS fee
  • Documentation of the source and amount of your financial support
  • You must enter the US within the 30-day period prior to the start date indicated in item 3 of the DS-2019. If unable to enter the US before the start date, contact your sponsoring department to request a new DS-2019 and enter using the new form.
  • Remember to visit ISO at 239 Gerberding Hall not later than 30 days after the start date (item 3 of the DS-2019) so that your arrival on campus can be reported to the government as required by law. Check-in is conducted every Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. and every Thursday at 10:00 a.m. Please arrive 10-15 minutes early so the one-hour session can begin promptly. Bring your passport, DS-2019, I-94 record, Seattle-area residence address and Insurance Compliance Statement.

At the port of entry

Smart travelers plan ahead and know what to expect. Here are some tips:

  • If you are beginning your Exchange Visitor program, arrange to enter the US within 30 days prior to the start date indicated in item 3 of your DS-2019. If you cannot enter the US within those 30 days, contact your sponsoring department to request an amended DS-2019 and enter using the new form.
  • Always hand-carry your documents (you will not have access to your baggage until later) and be prepared to present them to an immigration officer at the airport. These documents will be returned to you.
  • Upon entry into the US, you will be issued an I-94 Record of Departure. If you are issued a paper I-94 card, you will be asked to write your address on the I-94 (where you will live in Seattle).
  • An immigration officer may ask why are you coming to the US. Tell the officer that you will be an Exchange Visitor at the University of Washington. Answer all questions honestly and completely.
  • The officer will stamp your DS-2019 and passport and issue you an I-94 record.
  • The officer will also take your fingerprint and photograph.
  • If you do not have all the required documentation, the officer cannot initially verify your information, and you may be directed to an interview area referred to as “secondary inspection.” Be patient and cooperative. If the officer has questions about your affiliation with the UW, suggest that he or she contact ISO.
  • Federal law requires that J-1 Exchange Visitors report in person to their program sponsor within 30 days of the start date indicated in item 3 of the DS-2019. Do not forget to visit ISO in 239 Gerberding Hall so that your arrival on campus can be reported to the government as required by law. Check-in is conducted every Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. and every Thursday at 10:00 a.m. Please arrive 10-15 minutes early so the one-hour check-in session can begin promptly.  Bring your passport, DS-2019, Insurance Compliance Statement, I-94 record, and local Seattle-area residence address.

Returning after a temporary absence

These documents are needed to re-enter the US in Exchange Visitor status after a temporary absence:

  • DS-2019, endorsed for travel by ISO (bottom right hand corner of the form). The travel endorsement is valid up to 12 months. Carry all DS-2019s ever issued, not just the most recent one.
  • Valid passport
  • Valid J-1 or J-2 visa. If the visa has expired, request a new visa at a US consulate prior to returning to the US. Anticipate delays due to security reviews.
  • Under certain circumstances, you may be able to return to the US from brief trips to Canada or Mexico or islands in the Caribbean even though the visa has expired. This is known as automatic visa revalidation. To qualify, you must be applying for readmission to the US after a temporary absence of not more than 30 days and have a valid I-94 record, DS-2019, and passport with an expired visa stamp. With automatic visa revalidation, your visa will be considered “extended” (and “converted” to the proper visa category if you previously changed status while in the US) to the date of re-entry, eliminating the need to obtain a new visa at a US consulate before that particular re-entry.  If you apply for a new visa while in contiguous territory (Canada, Mexico, and islands in the Caribbean), you will not be able to return to the US unless the visa is granted. Also, citizens of countries identified by the US government as supporting terrorism are ineligible for automatic visa revalidation.
  • Visit ISO before leaving the US so we can review your documents and discuss travel procedures.
  • Trips over 30 days outside the US are not usually viewed as “temporary.” An absence of over one month at one time (except J-2 dependents) is permissible only if it is consistent with the purpose and goals of your UW J-1 program. If you anticipate being outside the US longer than 30 days to perform research or other collaborative UW activity, you must complete and ISO must approve an Out of Country Request before you leave the US. You can then return to the US after an absence of more than 30 days to continue your J-1 program. If the Out of Country Request is not completed and approved, your exchange activity will be considered ended, and you may be subject to 12 or 24 month bars on repeat participation in J-1 status.
  • The Department of Homeland Security allows all Exchange Visitors 30 days of lawful status in the US following completion of the program. This “grace period” is not included in the dates listed in item 3 of your Form DS-2019. During the grace period, you are expected to settle your affairs and prepare to return home. Employment is not permitted during the grace period. If you travel outside the US during the grace period, you will not be permitted to re-enter the US in J-1 or J-2 status.

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Arrival in Seattle

Seattle officially calls itself “The Emerald City,” but locals usually refer to it as “the rainy city.”  We’ll let you decide which description is more accurate!

Transportation to campus from the airport

  • Shuttle Express is a van service from the airport to your destination. After collecting your luggage, follow signs to “Ground Transportation” on the 3rd floor of the parking garage. Proceed to the Shuttle Express booth. Expect to pay $30 plus a 15% gratuity per person.
  • Taxi service is available 24 hours per day. To the UW, expect to pay $40 plus a 15% gratuity.
  • If you don’t have much luggage, light rail from the airport to downtown with public bus service connections to the UW is available during business hours at low cost.

Required check-in

Exchange Visitors who are new to the UW (including transfers from another school in the US) must visit ISO in Gerberding Hall, Room 239, for a scheduled check-in so their arrival on campus can be reported to the Department of Homeland Security as required by federal law. Scheduled check-in sessions take place on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. and Thursday at 10:00 a.m. Please arrive 10-15 minutes early so the one-hour check-in session can begin promptly. Bring your passport, Form DS-2019 (including family DS-2019s), I-94 record, Insurance Compliance Statement, and local Seattle-area residence address. The check-in session must occur not later than 30 days after the program start date indicated in item 3 of the DS-2019. If the scheduled check-in sessions are inconvenient, phone (206) 685-8847 to schedule an appointment. Failure to check-in with ISO results in automatic revocation of your lawful status. Register on-line to attend a J-1 Scholar Check-in Session.

Housing

Before you arrive in Seattle, contact your host academic department for assistance in locating off-campus housing. Many apartments in the U-District (the neighborhood surrounding the UW) are within walking or biking distance to campus. Other neighborhoods have good bus service to the UW. Useful resources include:

UW identification card (Husky Card)

Request from your sponsoring academic department an employee identification number so you can get a UW ID card (Husky Card), permitting access to most UW facilities.

Washington State driver’s license/identification card

For a small fee, the Washington State Department of Licensing issues driver’s licenses, and also photo identification (ID) cards for non-drivers. Identification cards can be issued at any age and are valid for 5 years. As a J-1 scholar, you may drive in Washington State with your valid home country driver’s license for one year. After one year, you will need a Washington State driver’s license.  The Washington State driver’s license also serves as an official identification card.

The Department of Licensing has reinstated the proof of local residence requirement for individuals without a Social Security number who are applying for a Washington State driver’s license. (If you have a Social Security number, or if you are applying for a Washington State ID, additional proof of residency is not required.) Prior to visiting a Department of Licensing location, you must obtain a printout of your electronic SEVIS record which indicates your current address. Please fill out this Sevis Printout Request  and return to the ISO office.

Cross-cultural activities

During your visit to Seattle, we encourange you to participate in activities providing opportunities to share the culture and history of your home country with Americans. Located on campus, the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS) provides many ways to become involved in the global community at the UW.

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J-2 Dependents

Your dependents (spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age) are eligible for J-2 dependent status. Although dependents usually enter as J-2s, they are not required to do so. They may enter in other visa classifications for which they qualify, such as F-1, J-1, B-2 or H-1B.

Form DS-2019

Each J-2 dependent must be in possession of a DS-2019. To request a DS-2019 for a dependent who did not accompany you to the US, complete the Request for Family DS-2019, and deliver it to ISO in Gerberding Hall, Room 239. DS-2019s can be issued only if the family members have adequate financial support and health insurance.

Effect of J-1′s departure on J-2′s status

The J-2′s status remains valid only while the J-1 is in the US. Therefore, it is not appropriate for your J-2 spouse or children to remain in the US if you will be out of the US for more than just a few days.

Termination of status

A J-2′s status in the US terminates when the J-1′s status terminates. Also, a child’s J-2 status terminates upon reaching his or her 21st birthday.

Childcare for young children

Many childcare services are available on-campus and in the community.

Children and schools

To enroll your children in school, contact one of the Seattle Public Schools Enrollment Service Centers. Be prepared to produce your child’s immunization records, verification of date of birth, and prior academic records.

Study in J-2 status

There is no restriction on study for persons holding J-2 status.

Dependent employment

Dependents in J-2 status may request employment authorization from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Income from the J-2′s employment may be used to support the family’s customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Employment will not be authorized if the income is needed to support the J-1. Employment may be authorized up to twelve months, and may be renewed annually.

Family activities

The Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS), a community organization located on campus, provides a variety of activities designed to enhance interactions between UW internationals and Americans. FIUTS also offers programs of interest to spouses, including conversation groups, cooking classes, and trips and tours.

Two-year home country physical presence requirement

The J-2 is subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement if the J-1 is subject to that requirement. If you apply for and receive a waiver of the two-year requirement, the waiver also covers the J-2, unless the J-2 has a separate home residence requirement based on his or her own previous J-1 status. In some cases, a J-2 can get a waiver independent of the J-1.

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Money Matters

Indeed it does! Managing finances is a challenge faced by many Exchange Visitors.

J-1 employment

J-1 Exchange Visitors may receive compensation for the employment stated in item 5 on the DS-2019. Additionally, occasional lectures or short-term consultations that involve wages or other remuneration may be authorized by ISO on a case-by-case basis. The occasional lectures or consultations must be authorized in advance and in writing. The off-campus activity must be directly related to the objectives of your program, be incidental to your primary program activities, and not delay the completion date of the program.

J-2 employment

Dependents in J-2 status may request employment authorization from USCIS. Income from the J-2′s employment may be used to support the family’s customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Employment will not be authorized if the income is needed to support the J-1.

Taxes

All J-1 Exchange Visitors who received US-source income are required to file Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ by April 15 for the previous calendar year. US tax laws are confusing, and the laws that apply to internationals are not the same as those that apply to US citizens. To help make tax filing easier, ISO provides an on-line tax preparation service designed for J Exchange Visitors. This web-based program provides step-by-step instructions and assistance with preparation of the appropriate tax forms.

Banking

To transfer money to the US, your financial institution will need to make arrangements with a bank that has an office in Seattle. There may be a limit to the amount of funds which may be transferred. Banks within walking distance of campus include:

Expenses

Living expenses include food, lodging, public transportation, clothing and other personal items. The amounts listed below represent modest but adequate costs for most international scholars at the UW. Expenses can be expected to increase over time. Be prepared to document source and amount of funds when applying for a visa or entering the US.

  • J-1 scholar: $1,800 per month
  • J-2 spouse: $1,200 per month
  • J-2 child: $600 per month

Managing your finances

Managing your finances will be one of your biggest challenges in the US. Not only will the currency be unfamiliar to you (a dollar is referred to as “a buck,” a dime is smaller than a nickel but worth twice as much), but the variety of payment options (cash, personal checks, traveler’s checks, debit cards, credit cards, money orders) can be similarly confusing. But you’ll learn quickly that spending money in the US is really quite easy. It’s paying the bills that’s difficult! We recommend you prepare a monthly budget for yourself, stick to it, and carefully track your expenditures. Seattle is an expensive city, and financial caution is advised.

Social Security number

Exchange Visitors employed by the UW must apply for a Social Security number (SSN). Payment of salary may be withheld until the number is issued. To obtain a SSN:

  • Report to ISO for a scheduled check-in session as soon as possible after arrival on campus. This must be done prior to applying for a SSN.
  • Visit the local Social Security Administration Office no sooner than 10 days after entering the US. The office closest to campus is located downtown at 915 2nd Ave., Suite 901. Bring your Form DS-2019, I-94 record, and passport.
  • J-2 dependents who are authorized to work in the US may apply in person for a SSN at a local Social Security Administration Office. J-2 dependents do not need to report to ISO prior to visiting the Social Security Administration Office. They should bring their passport, DS-2019, I-94 record, and employment authorization card issued by USCIS.
  • If you are a participant in the UW VISIT or VISER program, you are ineligible for a SSN. If you receive a stipend from the UW, you may apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)

The primary purpose of the SSN is to track earnings over a worker’s lifetime. A SSN is not required to obtain a driver’s license, cell phone, insurance, admission to an academic institution or other “nonwork” reason.

Helpful websites

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) are issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to Exchange Visitors who require a number for tax treaty, tax return, or certain other reasons. The UW is authorized by the IRS to issue ITINs to Exchange Visitors who may receive an honorarium or other non-salary payment during their stay. To apply for an ITIN, contact itin@u.washington.edu.

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Healthcare and Insurance

Many countries bear the expense of health care for their residents, but individuals in the U.S. are responsible for these expenses themselves. A single day of hospitalization can cost thousands of dollars. A good insurance policy gives you access to excellent medical facilities and provides protection against the enormous costs of health care.

Insurance requirement

It is not only unwise to be in the US without adequate health insurance, for J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents it is also illegal. You and your family are required by federal law to have sickness and accident insurance for the duration of your program. Minimum coverage must provide medical benefits ($50,000 per accident or illness), a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness, expenses associated with the medical evacuation to the home country ($10,000), and repatriation of remains ($7,500). If you will receive salary and benefits from the UW during your stay, that will cover the medical benefits requirement. However, many domestic health insurance policies, including policies provided by the UW to benefits-eligible employees, do not include medical evacuation and repatriation insurance. You will have to purchase medical evacuation and repatriation coverage separately.

Make your insurance arrangements before coming to the US

Exchange Visitors are often able to obtain inexpensive international travel insurance in their home country. In the US, many insurance companies offer policies designed for Exchange Visitors, but benefits vary and policy details are often available only in English. It is important that you consider what type of coverage is needed and who will be included on the plan. For example, some policies cost less because they do not provide coverage for J-2 dependents. Some policies exclude coverage for pregnancies, or coverage for care received in the home country. Before choosing a plan, carefully consider your personal and family health needs.

There are many insurance providers both within and outside the US, including those listed below. It is possible to enroll in most insurance plans by completing an on-line registration form, using a credit card for payment. The policies listed below do not represent an endorsement by the UW. You are solely responsible for procuring and maintaining suitable health insurance.

International SOS offers a policy that provides medical evacuation and repatriation benefits only.

Statement of Compliance

At the check-in session, you must present to ISO a Statement of Compliance with the Insurance Requirements of the Exchange Visitor program.

Healthcare in Seattle

After you arrive in the US, choose a medical clinic and physician according to your health insurance provisions. The Hall Health Center, conveniently located on campus, is a preferred provider for many health insurance plans. It provides service to UW students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Twenty-four hour care is available at several nearby hospitals, including the University of Washington Medical Center. For life-threatening emergencies, dial 911 on any telephone (9911 from a campus telephone).

Emergency Planning

Review these emergency plan resources for tips on how to respond in an emergency situation.

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Maintaining Legal Status in the US

It is your responsibility to understand and comply with the terms of your J-1 or J-2 visa during your stay in the US. A violation of the immigration regulations (for example, failure to check in with ISO within 30 days of your program start date) could have serious consequences. Review this information carefully, and contact ISO if you have questions.

Mandatory check-in requirement

Federal law requires that J-1 Exchange Visitors report in person to their program sponsor within 30 days of the start date indicated in item 3 of the DS-2019. You must visit ISO in Gerberding Hall, Room 239, so that your arrival on campus can be reported to the government as required by law. Check-in is conducted every Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. and every Thursday at 10:00 a.m., followed by a one-hour presentation of information. Register on-line to attend a J-1 Scholar Check-in Session. Bring your passport, DS-2019, I-94 record, Seattle-area residence address and Insurance Compliance Statement.

Change of address

Report your address (where you live in Seattle, not where you work) to ISO at the scheduled check-in session. Report any change of address to ISO within ten days of the change. Failure to report a change of address may result in revocation of your exchange visitor status.

Don’t let your DS-2019 expire

This document allows you to apply for a visa, to enter or re-enter the US, and establishes your legal eligibility to remain in the US. The DS-2019 must remain valid at all times. The duration of your program is stated in item 3 of your DS-2019. Request a new form prior to the current form’s expiration date. To request an extension, contact your sponsoring academic department. Keep every DS-2019 for your permanent record.

Don’t let your passport expire

Your passport must be valid at all times. Keep it and other important documents in a safe place. Report a lost or stolen passport to the police, as your government may require a police report before issuing a new passport. To renew or replace your passport, contact your country’s consulate in the US. While in the US, always carry with you a photocopy of your passport’s identity page, and a photocopy of your DS-2019. When traveling, carry the original documents, but guard them carefully against theft.

Work only with authorization

J-1 Exchange Visitors may receive compensation for the employment stated in item 5 on the DS-2019. Additionally, occasional lectures or short-term consultations that involve wages or other remuneration may be authorized by ISO on a case-by-case basis. The occasional lectures or consultations must be authorized in advance and in writing. Dependents in J-2 status may request employment authorization from USCIS. Income from the J-2′s employment may be used to support the family’s customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Employment will not be authorized if the income is needed to support the J-1.

Maintain health insurance

The US government requires all J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents to carry health insurance. Failure to maintain health insurance will result in termination of your Exchange Visitor program.

30-day “grace period”

The Department of Homeland Security allows all Exchange Visitors 30 days of lawful status in the US following completion of their program. This 30-day “grace period” is NOT included in the program dates listed in item 3 of your DS-2019 form. During the grace period you are expected to settle your affairs and prepare to return home. If you travel outside the U.S. during the grace period you will not be permitted to re-enter the U.S. in J-1 or J-2 status. Employment is prohibited during the 30-day grace period.

Registration Documentation

You may be surprised to learn that US law requires foreign nationals 18 years of age and older to carry “registration” documentation with them “at all times.” For individuals in J-1 and J-2 status, evidence of registration is your most recent Form I-94 Record of Departure. If you were issued an electronic I-94 record, the stamp in your passport is your registration document. The law is found at INA § 264(e) and the list of documents that qualify as evidence of registration is found at 8 CFR § 264.1(b).

Travel within the US

If you travel by air, train, bus or ship within the US, you may be required to show your passport and I-94 record when boarding. Keep photocopies of your passport and I-94 in a separate location from the original documents. Photocopies do not substitute for the originals but can make replacing them a bit easier in the event they are lost or stolen. Guard your documents carefully!

Transfer of program

You may transfer from one program sponsor to another if the purpose of the transfer is to complete the academic objective for which you were admitted. The transfer process requires coordination between the Responsible Officer of the current J-1 program and the Responsible Officer of the new J-1 program. The Responsible Officer is the administrator of an institution’s Exchange Visitor program and is typically a staff member in a university international student and scholar office.

Transferring to the UW

  • Contact your university’s J-1 Responsible Officer to find out about any special forms or procedures you must complete.
  • Provide copies of your Form DS-2019 to the UW department that is sponsoring you, and request that they submit a UW J Visa Request Form on your behalf.
  • Maintain your Exchange Visitor status under your current J-1 sponsor until the effective date of transfer.
  • Obtain your new DS-2019 from the UW within 30 days after the transfer date.
  • Register online  to attend a check-in session at ISO. Your new DS-2019 will be provided to you after check-in.

Transferring out of the UW

  • Complete a Transfer Verification Form and submit it to ISO.
  • Maintain your Exchange Visitor status at the UW until the effective date of transfer.
  • Report to the international students and scholars office at the new university to collect your new DS-2019 within 30 days after the effective date of transfer.

Leaving UW: Important visa and tax information

Please review this important information. It was our pleasure serving you and we wish you success in your future activities.

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