j-1 visiting

About J-1 visiting scholar program

What is a J-1 Visiting Scholar?

Choose the best J-1 scholar category

Choosing from the J-1 Scholar Categories

Application

Application Procedure

Apply for J-1 visa (external)

Apply for J-1 visa (external page)

prepare for scholars arrival

Prepare for Scholar's Arrival

additional immigration information

Immigration Terms

J-1 Visiting Scholar

UNCW (through the Office of International Programs) may sponsor visiting professors and research scholars as part of the Department of State's Exchange Visitor Program. The exchange of professors and research scholars promotes interchange, mutual enrichment, and linkages between research and educational institutions in the United States and foreign countries.

The steps for a UNCW department to host a J-1 Visiting Scholar include:

Choose the Appropriate J-1 Scholar Category

Comparison of J-1 Scholar categories

Short-Term Scholar Professor Research Scholar
Used for tenure track positions? No No No
Minimum program length 1 day 3 weeks* 3 weeks*
Maximum program length 6 months 5 years 5 years
Approved activities lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project
Subject to the 12 month bar after previous J participation? No Yes Yes
Subject to the 24-month bar on repeat participation? No Yes Yes
Subject to 212(e) two-year home country physical presence requirement? Yes, if EV meets the 212(e) criteria Yes, if EV meets the 212(e) criteria Yes, if EV meets the 212(e) criteria

*The Short-Term Scholar category is recommended for programs lasting 6 months or less.

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Submit J-1 Scholar Request Documents

Hosting Department's Responsibilities

To invite a J-1 scholar to UNCW, the hosting department must submit the following materials to the Office of International Programs:

Note, Extensions Only - If a department is extending a current J-1 scholar, the department only has to complete the Request to Extend a Current J-1 Scholar Form (PDF).

  • J-1 Scholar Request Form (PDF) which documents:
  • A letter of invitation (template here - PDF) from the hosting department that serves as the visa invitation letter for the visiting scholar. The letter should be printed on departmental letterhead and should include the following information:
    1. Objectives of the visit
    2. Dates of visit
    3. Site of visit
    4. Name and title of UNCW faculty who will oversee/supervise the visit
    5. Terms of financial arrangement, if any

Exchange Visitor's Responsibilities

To complete the J-1 scholar request documentation, the Exchange Visitor must submit the following documents along with the hosting department's request:

Once all required materials are received, the Office of International Programs will issue the appropriate immigration documents within 5 business days and mail them to the foreign national. The foreign national, with the immigration documents, will then need to obtain a J-1 visa at a US Embassy or Consulate abroad. This final step may take several weeks or months; please plan ahead!

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Scholar Applies for a J-1 Visa

See Apply for J-1 Scholar Visa (separate page)

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Host Department Prepares for Scholar's Arrival

Before Arrival

  • Secure Housing
    • On-Campus Housing - There is a one-bedroom apartment in Cornerstone Hall that visiting scholars may rent if space is available. Contact the J-1 Scholar Advisor to confirm price and availability.
    • Off-Campus Housing - Sort through local housing options based on your preferred criteria using the UNCW Off-Campus Housing Service. Pay attention to see if the listing is per apartment or per room (your only rent a bedroom in a larger apartment).

Upon Arrival

  • Check-In with the Office of International Programs - Upon arrival, J-1 Scholars must meet with the J-1 Scholar Advisor to "check-in". The advisor will photocopy the scholar's passport and DS-2019, and then change the scholar's immigration record from "Initial" to "Active." Failure to check in may jeopardize the scholar's ability to legally remain in the U.S.
  • Apply for a Social Security Number (required if scholar will be paid by UNCW) - Upon check-in, the J-1 scholar advisor will provide detailed instructions for obtaining an SSN. The hosting department may need to provide the J-1 scholar with transportation to the Social Security Administration (1528 S 16th St., Wilmington, NC 28401).
  • Obtain a UNCW ID Card
    • Employees - Follow the hiring department's instructions.
    • Non-Paid Visitors - Bring the completed Auxiliary Services ID Card Request form (PDF) and payment of $20 to the UNCW One Card Office (Warwick Center).
  • Request Computer Access
    • Employees - Follow the hiring department's instructions.
    • Non-Paid Visitors - Hosting department requests a guest account through the Technology Assistance Center (Go to the Guest Accounts information page, then click "Request Service" and enter the J-1 Scholar's information).
  • Request Library Access
    • Employees - Follow the hiring department's instructions.
    • Non-Paid Visitors - E-mail Dawn Brown in Randall Library explaining you are hosting a visiting international scholar in your department and would like to grant this person library access.
  • Open a Bank Account (required if scholar will be paid by UNCW) - The scholar must bring his/her passport and immigration document DS-2019 to a local bank branch to open a bank account. It is best if the scholar chooses a bank that is widely available throughout the U.S. and has a local branch within walking distance from UNCW (such as Bank of America or Wells Fargo).
  • Obtain a Cell phone (optional) - See the list of prepaid cell phone plans popular with UNCW exchange visitors (PDF).
  • Obtain a NC Driver's License (optional) - See Instructions for Obtaining a NC Driver's License (PDF).
  • Join the Campus Recreation Center (optional) - See Campus Rec Center Membership Information.
  • Purchase a Faculty/Staff Meal Plan (optional) - A faculty/staff meal plan offers a substantial savings over purchasing individual on-campus meals. For more information, see Faculty/Staff Meal Plans.

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Definitions of Immigration Terms

J-1 Scholar Categories

  1. Short-Term Scholar - a short-term scholar is an individual coming to the United States on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills. There is no minimum stay required; maximum stay of six months.
  2. Professor - a professor is an individual primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting. A professor may also conduct research. Professors may give occasional lectures and short-term consultations incidental to their primary activities. If such activities will involve wages or other remuneration, the scholar must obtain written authorization in advance from the Office of International Programs (OIP). Minimum stay of three weeks required. Maximum stay of five years.
  3. Research Scholar - a research scholar is an individual primarily conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project. The research scholar may also teach or lecture. Research Scholars may give occasional lectures and short-term consultations incidental to their primary activities. If such activities will involve wages or other remuneration, the scholar must obtain written authorization in advance from the Office of International Programs (OIP). Minimum stay of three weeks required. Maximum stay of five years.

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Possible Restrictions Impacting the J-1 Scholar

Twelve-month bar after previous J participation

An alien is not eligible to begin a new J-1 Research Scholar or J-1 Professor program if he/she was physically present in the U.S. in any J status within the past 12 months UNLESS the J status was for less than 6 months or the J status was in the J-1 Short-Term Scholar category (which by definition is for 6 months or less).

Twenty-four month bar on "repeat participation"

Exchange visitors in the J-1 Research Scholar or J-1 Professor category are not eligible to participate in a the J-1 Research Scholar or J-1 Professor category for a period of two years immediately following the completion of their J-1 Research Scholar/Professor program.

212(e) Two-year home country physical presence requirement

Exchange visitors who meet the 212(e) criteria must "reside and be physically present" in their "home" country for a total of two years before being eligible for certain immigration benefits.

Criteria for being subject to 212(e):

  1. Government funding - An exchange visitor is subject to 212(e) if "participation in the program for which he came to the United States was financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the United States Government or by the government of the country of his nationality or of his last legal permanent residence..."
  2. Exchange visitor skills list - The Exchange Visitor Skills List (external page) outlines specialized skills that foreign countries indicate are necessary for the development of their country. If the EV is in the U.S. to develop a skill on his/her country's skills list, then the EV is subject to 212(e).

Impact of being subject to 212(e):

While subject to 212 (e), aliens are not eligible for the following benefits:

  1. They are not eligible for an immigrant visa or for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident (immigrant/green card) status.
  2. They are not eligible for an H visa (temporary workers and dependents), an L visa (intracompany transferees and dependents), or a K visa (fiance and dependents).
  3. They are not eligible to change their nonimmigrant status within the United States from J to any other nonimmigrant category except A (diplomatic), G (international organization), or U (victims of qualifying criminal activity) statuses.

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Explanation of Required Supporting Documents

English Proficiency

As per 22 CFR 62.11(a)(2), hosting departments must verify the visitor has sufficient proficiency in the English language, as determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency, to successfully to participate in his or her program and to function on a day-to-day basis.

Minimum Funding

To sponsor a foreign national as a J-1, the sponsoring department must demonstrate how the J-1 and, if applicable, his/her dependents (spouse and children) will financially support themselves while in the US. Proof of financial support may come from UNCW, a US government agency, the J-1's government, or another organization. The foreign national may support his/her visit.

J-1 Exchange Visitors funding must total a minimum of:

  • $1,500/month
  • Plus an additional $7,000 per year for each dependent 

Health Insurance

The U.S. Department of State federally mandates all those in J-1 and J-2 status to carry health insurance coverage that meets U.S. Department of State minimum health insurance requirements.

All international students and scholars (and their visa dependents) are required to have sickness and accident insurance and medical evacuation and repatriation insurance in effect for the duration of their program at UNCW. Failure to carry insurance is considered a serious violation by the US government. Because of this, all international students and scholars are automatically enrolled in, and will be charged for, an insurance plan that meets the following minimum requirements: medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness, repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000, expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000, a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
If students and scholars feel they have insurance coverage that meets the minimum requirements, they may submit a waiver so they do not have to purchase the UNCW plan. To be eligible for a waiver of the UNCW plan, students and scholars must complete, sign and submit the International Health Insurance Waiver Form to the Office of International Programs.
All international students and scholars who fail to submit a waiver will be automatically enrolled in the UNCW insurance plan and will be responsible for the costs of insurance. Waivers turned in after the due date will not be honored.

There are two options available:

  • Waive your insurance

All international students and scholars (and their visa dependents) are required to have sickness and accident insurance and medical evacuation and repatriation insurance in effect for the duration of their program at UNCW. Failure to carry insurance is considered a serious violation by the US government. Because of this, all international students and scholars are automatically enrolled in, and will be charged for, an insurance plan that meets the following minimum requirements: medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness, repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000, expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000, a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
If students and scholars feel they have insurance coverage that meets the minimum requirements, they may submit a waiver so they do not have to purchase the UNCW plan. To be eligible for a waiver of the UNCW plan, students and scholars must complete, sign and submit the International Health Insurance Waiver Form to the Office of International Programs.

Below is a list of members of NAFSA: Association of International Educators "Global Partners" who provide health insurance for international students and scholars. You can contact these companies directly for insurance quotes:

Insurance Company Contact information
Ascension Benefits & Insurance Solutions 800.404.4969
Compass Benefits Group 800.767.0169
Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) 800.303.8120
GeoBlue 855.682.7965
International SOS 800.523.8662
Inext insurance 855.578.6398
International Student Insurance 877.758.4391
International Student Protection 877.738.5787
ISO - International Student Organization 800.244.1180
LewerMark Student Insurance 800.821.7715
PGH Global 888.251.6253
RCM&D 800.346.4075


All international students and scholars who fail to submit a waiver will be automatically enrolled in the UNCW insurance plan and will be responsible for the costs of insurance. Waivers turned in after the due date will not be honored.

  • Purchase insurance through BlueCross and Blue Shield. For more information regarding plans, coverage and cost, please click here.

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