The purpose of the J-1 visa is to increase mutual understanding between people of the US and people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges, thereby strengthening the ties between the nations. Every year the UW sponsors several hundred “Exchange Visitors” for full-time, temporary activities that include teaching, lecturing, observing, conducting research, consulting, or demonstrating special skills. At the time of appointment, the expectation is that the Exchange Visitor will return home upon completion of the activity.

UW departments carefully select and screen prospective Exchange visitors to ensure that their English language proficiency and academic background are suitable for the intended activity, and that they have adequate financial support including health insurance.  J-1 status can be obtained relatively easily and quickly, though plans to sponsor a J-1 Exchange Visitor should begin three or four months in advance of the start date to allow for document preparation and visa processing. In some cases, Exchange Visitors experience delays in visa processing due to U.S. government security reviews.

Depending on their category of participation, Exchange Visitors may hold J-1 status for just a few days or up to five years plus a 30-day “grace period” following completion of the program. They are then expected to return home to exercise the skills and knowledge acquired in the United States. Employment is not permitted during the grace period.

Visiting faculty and other academic staff

J-1 visa sponsorship is limited to the faculty and academic staff titles listed below:

The UW does NOT sponsor J visas for tenure-track and other long-term faculty, for clinical programs of graduate medical education or training, or for other programs that require direct clinical patient care or contact (e.g., veterinary  medicine, nursing, dentistry, psychological counseling or speech therapy). For questions regarding J-1 visas for clinical training programs sponsored through the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), contact the UW Graduate Medical Education Office.  

Visiting students

Students pursuing degrees at foreign universities are ineligible for the faculty and academic staff titles listed above. They may apply for admission to the UW, or participate in full-time supervised research and work-based learning opportunities through the Visiting International Student Internship and Training program (VISIT) or the Visiting International Student Engaged in Research Program (VISER) program.