Pre-Arrival Preparation

Pre-Arrival Preparation Tips for J-1 Visiting Scholars


Visa Application



The  J-1 visa interview is comprised of two main parts: assessing your purpose and plan for your J-1 program in the U.S. and evaluating strong ties to your home country.  With the first aspect, prepare to discuss  what you will be researching/teaching at UAlbany, why you chose UAlbany for this activity, and any issues around sensitive areas of research, countries of concern or other related information.

Pay the SEVIS Fee

Once you receive your DS-2019 you must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee online. You should print a copy of your receipt for this payment and bring it to your visa interview. 

Apply for the J-1 Visa

Complete the DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application and schedule an appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, preferably in the country where you live. ISSS recommends that you apply for a visa as early as possible. While the earliest a J visa may be issued is 120 days prior to the program start date you may submit the application before then. You can view wait times for visa appointments online. You will need to bring the following documents to your visa appointment:

  • Passport (valid at least 6 months into the future)
  • Two recent passport photos that meet the photograph requirements
  • Visa application form and fees
  • SEVIS I-901 fee payment receipt
  • Your original DS-2019 form
  • Invitation or offer letter from your academic department
  • Proof of financial support
  • Proof of English proficiency 
  • Evidence of ties to your home country (i.e. solid reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the US).  Examples include a job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, and investments.
  • For J-1 Student Interns: your DS-7002, signed by an ISSS advisor and your supervisor
  • Any other documents required by the Embassy or Consulate; see their website for details

If you will be bringing dependents in J-2 status they will need to apply for a J-2 visa. In addition to the documents above they should provide proof of their relationship to the J-1 Exchange Visitor (such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate). 

Looking for more information? Visit our Applying for a Visa webpage.

Travel to the U.S.

You should plan to arrive in the U.S. on or before your program start date on your DS-2019. You cannot arrive more than 30 days before that date. Be sure to carry your passport with your J-1 visa and your original DS-2019 in your carry-on luggage. You will need to show these documents to enter the U.S.

If your arrival date will be delayed more than two weeks after the start date on your DS-2019, you must contact your academic department and the International Student and Scholar Services office. We will advise you and your department on how to proceed.


Housing and Transportation

There is no on-campus housing option for visiting scholars. ISSS has compiled a list of resources for scholars and departmental sponsors to assist with finding long-term and short-term housing options for J-1 visitors.

All faculty, staff and students are eligible to ride the UAlbany shuttles (downtown via Western Ave., Walmart shopping center and Health Sciences Campus). For more information about shuttle service, visit the Office of Parking and Mass Transit. J-1 scholars and their dependents are generally not eligible for free CDTA bus transportation unless funded by UAlbany or the UAlbany Research Foundation. Other campus benefits (e.g., Fitness center access) also based on UAlbany affiliation. Only qualifying students, faculty, and staff are eligible for these benefits.


212e and 12/24 month bars for J Visa Holders

212(e) Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement

The Two-Year Home Residency Requirement is often referred to as the 212(e). Only the U.S. Department of State can determine if a J-1 and/or J-2 is subject to the 212(e). If subject, a J-visa holder will have to physically reside within their last country of legal permanent residence for two years before s/he may return to the U.S. as an H-1B visa holder, L visa holder, K visa holder or as a Permanent Resident. If subject, J visitors are unable to apply for a change of status within the US. Being "subject" to this regulation does not prevent a visitor from returning to the U.S. in certain other visa statuses, such as F-1 (student), B1/B2 (tourist/business) or under the visa waiver program.

There are two main reasons a J visitor may be subject to the 212(e) as a scholar at UAlbany:

  • The J program is funded in part or wholly by the United States government, the visitor's government, or an international organization (this does not include a U.S. government funded departmental grant such as NIH as long as the grant funds are routed through university payroll in support of the scholar).
  • The J-1 scholar is engaged in one or more of the skills listed on the Exchange Visitor Skills List (1997 Amendment) for his/her country

For more information on J-1 212(e) two-year home residency requirement and its associated waiver process, visit the Department of State website

12- and 24-Month Bars for Repeat Participation

The 12- and 24-month bars determine when a current or previous J-1 exchange visitor is eligible for a second visit to the US in the J-1 Professor or Research Scholar category.

A 24-month bar on repeat participation in the J-1 Professor or Research Scholar categories was instituted by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) for exchange visitors upon completion of their J-1 programs. This means that all J-1 Professors or Research Scholars (not those in the Short-term Scholar category) will be barred from participation in the same category for two years from the end date of their programs.

For example, a professor whose J-1 program is from September 1, 2019 - May 31, 2020, will not be able to return to the US as a J-1 Professor (or Research Scholar) until May 31, 2022. This is a different rule from the two-year home residency requirement (212e).

In addition to the 24-month bar on repeat participation, J-1 regulations prohibit participation of any exchange visitor coming for a new program in the category of Professor or Research Scholar (indicated in section 4 of the DS-2019 form) who has been in any J status during the 12-month period immediately before the start date on her/his new form DS-2019 with the following exceptions:

  • the new program is a transfer from another institution;
  • presence in the US in the previous program was for less than six months; or,
  • presence in the US in the previous program was under the category of short-term scholar.


If you've held a J Category Visa for LESS than 6 months

  • 12 or 24 month bars DO NOT APPLY if you are
    • Any J-1 Category Other than Research Scholar/Professor
    • A J-2 Dependent of any J-1 category other than Research Scholar/Professor
  • 24 month bar on repeat participation APPLIES if you are a
    • J-1 Research Scholar/Professor
    • J-2 Dependent of Research Scholar/Professor

If you've held a J Category Visa for MORE than 6 months

  • 12 month bar on repeat participation APPLIES if you are
    • Any J-1 Category Other than Research Scholar/Professor
    • A J-2 Dependent of any J-1 category other than Research Scholar/Professor
  • 24 month bar on repeat participation APPLIES if you are a
    • J-1 Research Scholar/Professor
    • J-2 Dependent of Research Scholar/Professor

Please note, ISSS will review details of any prior participation in J-1 programs before issuing a new DS-2019 to ensure that these programs are not being used to circumvent a bar on repeat participation. In addition to formal bars on repeat participation, eligibility assessment will include review of the dates, category, and program objectives of prior J-1 program.