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Compliance for Departments Sponsoring J-1 scholars

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It is important to understand and to comply with all J-1 program and immigration regulations and to maintain lawful immigration status in the United States. Failure to maintain legal immigration status in the United States will nullify Exchange Scholar's visa and their permission to remain in the country. Remaining in the United States beyond the date of authorized stay (plus grace period, if applicable) could subject Exchange Scholar to a bar from re-entering the United States for a period of up to 10 years. In addition, violating the terms and conditions of their immigration status might prevent them from obtaining a visa to enter the United States at any United States Consulate other than the one in their home country. Please refer to USCIS Memo Guidance effective August 9, 2018.

Health Insurance Requirements

The U.S. Department of State administers the J-1 scholar program.  One of their regulations is that all J-1 students and scholars and their J-2 dependents must have adequate health insurance coverage throughout their stay.

Participants must maintain the level of insurance coverage required of all participants in the J-1 scholar program (including J-2 dependents). 

  • Medical coverage of at least $100,000 per person per accident or illness
  • Medical evacuation coverage of at least $50,000
  • Repatriation of remains coverage of at least $25,000
  • Deductible that does not exceed $500 per accident or illness

Anyone in J-1 or J-2 status may also be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Scholars must maintain health insurance coverage for the entire length of the program. Renewing the insurance coverage and submitting proof of continuing coverage to the ISSC is the scholar's responsibility. 

English Proficiency Requirements

Sponsors are required to verify that a J-1 scholar possesses sufficient proficiency in the English language, as determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency, successfully to participate in the program and to function on a day to day basis [22 CFR 62.10(a)(2)].

The provision goes on to require sponsors to use one of the following “objective measurements of English language proficiency” to determine an applicant’s language proficiency:

  • A recognized English language test
  • Signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school; or
  • A documented interview conducted by the sponsor either in-person or by video conference, or by telephone if video conferencing is not a viable option

Financial Requirements

Prospective scholars are required to certify the availability of sufficient funds prior to issuance of a form DS-2019. Minimum required funding per month is $1,400 for the scholar, $350 for the spouse, $350 per child 13 and over and $200 per child under 13.

2-Year home residency requirement 212 (e)

The 2-year home residency requirement does not apply to all J-1s. It applies only if any of the two criteria are applicable:

  1. Government funding, such as if the scholar is receiving home government or third-country government funding or are named in a U.S. government grant or award designed to facilitate exchange.
  2. If the area of expertise and training is determined by the home country as being in short supply and is listed on the U.S. government skills list.

Being subject to this requirement does not prevent a return in another visa status (for example as a tourist or student) at any time without a waiting period, however such a change of visa status can happen only through international travel and re-entry and cannot happen within the U.S.

12- and 24-month bars

There might be a wait time before a J-1 scholar may begin their program at ASU if the scholar has been in the U.S. in a J-1 category. The category is listed is section 4 of the DS-2019. These wait times are referred to as the 12- and 24-month bars. The J-1 scholar program supports its underlying premise of fostering mutual exchange by preventing immediate repeat participation through these bars.

The bars do not apply to anyone coming from or to a Short-Term Scholar category.

The 12-month bar

An individual is not eligible for the J-1 category of professor or research scholar if he or she has been physically present in the U.S. in J-1 or J-2 status for all or part of the 12-month period immediately preceding the intended start date of a program unless:

  • The participant is transferring to the sponsor's program and has not exceeded the maximum allowed time of five years
  • The participant's presence in the U.S. was of less than six months duration; or
  • The participant's presence in the U.S. was pursuant to a short-term scholar exchange activity.

The 24-month bar

Those who complete a J-1 or J-2 program, regardless of the duration of the program, are barred for two years from beginning a new J-1 Research Scholar or Professor program.

This bar does not apply to those who are in the J-1 Short-Term Scholar category.

Program Extension

The J-1 scholar has the right to remain in the U.S. to complete the program objectaive, provided that does not exceed the total length of time permitted by the program category and the scholar adheres to all regulations of the J-1 status. Detailed extension information and instructions can be located here.

Ending Program Early

Prior to a J-1 scholar’s leaving ASU, ISSC asks that the scholar complete and submit the Early Departure e-form. The e-form must also be endorsed by department contact or faculty supervisor to acknowledge the early departure.

We encourage a scholar to schedule an appointment with an advisor if the scholar has a plan to end the program early.

Out of Country Status

The U.S. Department of State considers a J-1 scholar’s program participation to be valid and ongoing as long as ASU, as the program sponsor, maintains the record as “active” in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. ISSC, as the designated administrator for ASU’s Exchange Visitor Program, will routinely consider a program active as long as J-1 scholars are pursuing their programs inside the U.S., or are absent temporarily for brief trips abroad defined as 30 days or less. SEVIS has an Out of Country functionality that allows ISSC to indicate J-1 scholar records as “active” during periods outside the U.S. of longer than 30 days. To warrant the exception, official exchange program activities must require J-1 scholars to travel outside of the U.S. to participate in collaborative research projects and/or associated program activities.

 To request, review and establish “Out of Country Status” eligibility, host departments must provide the information listed in the Out of Country form prior finalization of any J-1 scholar travel plans abroad that exceed 30 days. If approved, the department must also inform ISSC of any subsequent changes to the approved plan and update the information as necessary.  ISSC is required to maintain accurate data regarding the circumstances of the J-1 scholar’s time outside the U.S., or an J-1 scholar’s program may be terminated by the Department of State. 

 As a reminder, federal regulations require J-1 scholars to conduct exchange activities only at the site(s) of activity identified in SEVIS, and to maintain specified medical insurance throughout their program period. Regulations also require program sponsors to monitor the program progress and welfare of J-1 scholars throughout the program.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Incident Reporting

Departments must promptly notify the ISSC of any serious incident, allegation involving a J-1 Exchange Visitor sponsored by Arizona State University in the same day the incident, or allegation occurs.  Incidents are defined as situations that have or could endanger the health, safety, or welfare of an exchange visitor or otherwise could be expected to bring the Department of State, the Exchange Visitor Program, or Arizona State University’s exchange visitor program into notoriety or disrepute.

Examples of reportable incidents or allegations include, but are not limited to:

  • J-1 Death
  • J-1 is Missing
  • J-1 suffers serious illness or injury (e.g., brain injury, severe burn, major surgery, communicable disease, serious mental health incidents, any condition requiring hospitalization of 48 hours or more, etc.)
  • Litigation (related to a sponsor’s exchange visitor program, in which sponsor or a J-1 scholar may be a named party)
  • Incident involving the criminal justice system (e.g., arrest, charges, law enforcement, etc.)
  • Sexually-related incidents or abuse (an incident or allegation involving sexual exploitation, harassment or abuse)
  • Negative press involving ASU
  • Foreign government involvement (including embassy officials)
  • Other situations impacting J-1 safety (e.g., natural disasters, civil unrest, outbreaks of violence)