Scholar Services

The International Student and Scholar Office (ISSO) assists UMass Boston faculty and staff to bring international scholars to campus for a variety of purposes. ISSO advises on immigration matters, issues visa documents, and provides information and guidance on a wide range of issues such as employment, visa dependents, health insurance, and tax matters. Weekly orientation sessions for new scholars and their families are held throughout the year during scholar advising hours. Faculty, staff, current scholars, and incoming scholars will find information on various topics in the table below. Please feel free to email a scholar advisor for questions and assistance.


According to the Department of State (DOS), the purpose of the J-1 Exchange Program is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States (U.S.) and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges. The exchange of visiting scholars promotes interchange, mutual enrichment, and linkages between research and educational institutions in the U.S. and foreign countries. Participants in this program will enter the U.S. with a J-1 visa, identified as “exchange visitors.”

J-1 Categories

J-1 visiting scholar appointments at the University of Massachusetts Boston fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Professor: a professor is an individual primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting. A professor may also conduct research, unless disallowed by the program sponsor. Minimum stay of three weeks required with a maximum stay of five years
  2. 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, unless disallowed by the program sponsor. Minimum stay of three weeks required with a maximum stay of five years.
  3. Short-term Scholar: a short-term scholar is an individual coming to the U.S. for a period of up to six months to lecture, observe, consult, and participate in seminars, workshops, conferences, professional meetings, or similar types of educational and professional activities. No minimum stay required with a maximum stay of six months (NOTE: no extensions beyond six months under any circumstances)

Limitations for J-1 Professor and Research Scholar Categories

Twelve-Month Bar: 

A foreign national is ineligible to participate in a professor/research scholar exchange program if he or she has held any J nonimmigrant status within the 12-month period immediately preceding the start of the exchange program. This Twelve-Month Bar applies to J-2 dependents as well as principal non-immigrants. The following three exceptions exist:

  1. J-1 transfers to UMass Boston without any gap
  2. Prior presence in J status in the U.S. was of less than 6 months duration
  3. Presence in J status as a short-term scholar

24-Month Bar (also known as the Two-Year Bar):

An individual who participates in the Exchange Visitor Program as a J-1 professor or research scholar becomes subject to the 24-Month Bar on "repeat participation" in those particular categories after completing his or her program even if the program lasts less than five years. DOS has taken the position that the 24-Month Bar will also apply to J-2 dependents of J-1 professors or research scholars if the J-2 subsequently wishes to return as a J-1 professor or research scholar.

PLEASE SEE HANDOUT ON 12 & 24 Month Bars Explained


J-1 scholar status is limited to those who hold temporary, "visiting" academic positions. It cannot be used for tenure-track faculty positions, regular faculty or support positions, administrative positions, or staff positions.

Minimum Funding Requirements

These funds may come from UMass Boston, an outside organization, or the individual may be supported by his or her own resources. Immigration regulations require proof of sufficient supporting funds before visa documents can be issued. The funding documents must have been issued within the past 6 months. If the funding document is not in English, it should be translated.

Health Insurance Requirements

Health Insurance Handouts:  Health Insurance Options, Department of State Insurance Requirements

Unlike any other immigration category, DOS federally mandates all J-1 and J-2 status holders to carry adequate health insurance coverage. The J-1 scholar must purchase insurance for him/herself and his/her J-2 dependents immediately upon arrival in the U.S. If the J-1 scholar and/or dependents fail to maintain the mandatory health insurance coverage, they will be in violation of federal immigration regulations; will be subject to termination as a participant; and must leave the U.S. immediately.

U.S. government regulations require J-1 scholars and J-2 dependents to have health insurance that provides:

To comply with these regulations, health insurance policies must at a minimum be underwritten by corporations having one of the following: A.M. Best policy holder rating of A- or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. rating of A- or above, a Standard and Poor's claims-paying ability rating of A- or above, or a Weiss Research Inc. rating of B+ or above. Insurance backed by the full faith and credit of the exchange visitor's (J-1 scholars) government will meet this requirement. The regulations state that any exchange visitor (or accompanying dependent) who fails to maintain health insurance coverage as detailed above or who misrepresents such coverage will be in violation of U.S. Government regulations and shall be subject to termination as an exchange visitor.

*Please note that medical evacuation and repatriation of remains is covered free of charge to all scholars visiting the University of Massachusetts. It is not necessary to enroll of complete an application for this.

Two-Year Home Country Residence Requirement (212e)

J-1 individuals who have received funding from their government or the US government for J-1 program participation, or whose skills are deemed to be in short supply by the home country, are obliged to leave the U.S. upon completion of their programs. Scholars can check the “Skills List” to see if their skills are listed as subject to the Two Year Home Residency requirement. The two-year home country residence requirement does not, however, apply in all cases, since there are many countries that do not maintain a list of skills in short supply. Exchange visitors who are subject to the Two-Year Home Country Residence Requirement must "reside and be physically present" in their "home" country for an aggregate of two years before being eligible for certain immigration benefits.

While they are subject to the Two-Year Home Country Residence Requirement, they are ineligible for the following benefits:

In some cases, this requirement may be waived upon recommendation of the home government or on other grounds.

Please note that once a J-1/J-2 receives either a waiver approval notice (from USCIS) or a waiver recommendation (by DOS), he/she is no longer eligible for any extensions, etc. as he/she is no longer considered as a bona fide exchange visitor by DOS, which oversees the J exchange visitor program. He/she can, of course, finish his/her current exchange program until the end date listed on the current DS-2019. Thus, a J-1/J-2 should plan the timing of a waiver application carefully.

Special Documentation for Scholars with Non-UMass Boston Site of Activity

In general, all J-1 scholars will conduct their activities at UMass Boston. In rare situations, the J-1 activity might occur at a non-UMass Boston site under the full, day-to-day supervision of a regular full-time UMass Boston faculty member.  In such cases, attach a letter from the chair of the hosting department that includes the following:

Information for Faculty

Departmental Responsibilities


Please download the above department guide for detailed information regarding the hosting of J-1 Exchange Visitors in the professor, research scholar, and short-term scholar category. 

The hosting department must consider the following responsibilities and criteria of J-1 visitors before appointing a scholar in J-1 status:

The exchange visitor may only perform duties limited to the pre-established program objectives as stated on the DS-2019 form. Any additional employment must be incidental to the visitor's primary program activities, must be directly related to his or her original objectives, and must be authorized in writing by the ISSO in advance.

Be aware of ISSO application deadlines: The hosting department should submit the request to the ISSO 3-4 months in advance, but no later than 6 weeks in advance.

Departments must ascertain that the international scholar has appropriate academic credentials (including English language proficiency) to be appointed to and benefit from his/her J-1 stay at this university. Also:

The primary advantages of J-1 status are that it can be obtained relatively easily and quickly, and that it usually allows the spouse and dependents holding J-2 status to work while in the US.

Scholars who are unsure of their future plans with respect to employment at UMass Boston or in the U.S., and who would be subject to the two-year home country residence requirement would do well to consider alternative immigration classifications prior to being granted J-1 visa status.

Form DS-2019 is the document required for a scholar to obtain a J-1 visa. This form is issued by the ISSO upon receipt and review of the J-1 Scholar Request submitted by the hosting department.

Plans to invite a J-1 scholar should begin three to four months in advance of the start date of the appointment to allow for case review, document preparation, department mailing, and visa processing. In some cases, scholars may experience significant delays in visa processing abroad due to possible U.S. government security clearances. 

If the J-1 scholar is outside of the U.S., the department should send the form DS-2019 to the scholar via certified mail with a tracking number. The scholar will then take the DS-2019 to the US Embassy or consulate to get their entry visa.

If the J-1 scholar is in the U.S. under the sponsorship of another J-1 program and wishes to transfer their J-1 status to UMass Boston, the hosting department should submit a J-1 Scholar Request to ISSO at least 4-6 weeks before the scholar’s current J-1 status expires.

If the scholar is in the U.S. in another immigration status, the hosting department should consult with the ISSO, as change of status requests take many months to be approved with USCIS.

Information on Inviting a Visiting Fulbright Scholar to UMass Boston

Detailed Information on the Visiting Scholar Program can be found on the CIES website.

J-1 New Scholar

Arrival at UMass Boston

All J-1 Exchange Visitors (EV) must report to their sponsoring academic department immediately following their arrival in te4h US for a department check-in. The sponsoring department will assist the Exchange Visitor with all required paperwork needed to on board that scholar at UMass Boston; this includes  securing a UMass email, ID card, building access. and library privileges. Once the UMB email is obtained, the Exchange Visitor will complete the electroniic government scholar. Instructions provided by the immigratoin office.

GOVERNMENT  CHECK-IN: once the J-1 scholar has obtained a UMass email s/he may access the UMass secured system to complete the electronic check-in and upload the required documents.  Should the check-in not be completed within two weeks from the program start date, the scholar will receive notification from the ISSO to prompt completion of the check-in. 

Payment of I-901 SEVIS Fee

A scholar must have proof that they have paid this fee to the U.S. government before you visit a U.S. consulate to apply for a J-1 visa or enter the U.S.

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need visas to enter the U.S., but they must have proof of payment of the SEVIS fee when they enter the U.S. in J-1 status for the first time.

If they are already in the U.S. and will apply for a change of status to J-1, you must also pay the SEVIS fee before submitting their change of status application to USCIS.

A scholar may use a major credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, issued in any country to anyone) to pay the SEVIS fee online and print out a confirmation receipt that you can used as proof of payment.

To pay the SEVIS fee online, go to For “Program Number,” enter P-1-05673.

Current J-1 Scholars

Maintaining Legal Status

The J-1 scholar must take care during his/her stay in the U.S. to maintain lawful J-1 status, as failure to do so can have serious short-term and long-term consequences.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps the J-1 scholar can take to ensure that his/her stay in the U.S. remains valid:

Occasional Lectures and Consultations

Professors and Research Scholars may give occasional lectures and short-term consultations incidental to their primary activities, if approved by the ISSO in advance. Please see the Occasional Lecture/Consultation Request and information sheet.

To work for any organization other than UMass Boston in the position described on your DS-2019 form, the J-1 scholar must first obtain approval in writing in advance from his/her J-1 scholar advisor.

The J-1 scholar advisor must evaluate the proposed occasional lectures or consultations in terms of the J-1 scholar’s program objectives, and then decide whether or not it would be appropriate.

If the J-1 scholar is being sponsored by an agency (e.g. IIE/Fulbright), and if uncertain how to reach the appropriate scholar advisor, an ISSO adviser will help identify the contact person, but UMass Boston has no authority to grant permission to accept an occasional lecture or consultation opportunity.


The term occasional embodies the concept of single events rather than an ongoing activity. To ensure that "occasional lectures or short-term consultations" do not interfere with, and are in keeping with, the activities of the J-1 program, they:

Extension of J-1 Sponsorship

If the hosting department wishes to extend the J-1 scholar’s appointment/affiliation with the university, the scholar must work with the host faculty to complete the DS2019 Extension Request and submit to ISSS at least six weeks before the current J-1 status expires (date as noted in section 3 of Form DS-2019).  Click here to download extension form.

Transfer of J-1 Sponsorship

If the J-1 scholar wishes to transfer from one J-1 sponsor to another, he/she must seek clearance from the original/current program sponsor. Once the program sponsor (ISSO for UMass Boston) has transferred the J-1 scholar's SEVIS record and the new institution has processed a DS-2019, the J-1 scholar is then considered under the sponsorship of the new program.

The scholar may not take up appointment with the new program until the transfer process has been successfully completed. The transfer of J-1 program sponsorship must be completed prior to the individual's termination from the previous J-1 program and before the current DS-2019 Form expires.  For scholars transferring to the University of Massachusetts Boston, the hosting departments should complete the Scholar Request Application.  The Transfer-In Request form for J-1 scholars must be signed by the previous A/RO. Please note that time spent in a previous program(s) prior to the transfer will be counted toward the maximum stay allowed.

If you wish to transfer your J-1 status from UMass Boston to another institution, please request a Transfer Out Request for J-1 Scholars.

After Completion of J-1 Stay

Scholars and J-2 dependents are afforded a 30-day grace period to leave the U.S. from the program end date or the DS-2019 end date, whichever is earlier. Please be advised that the J-1/J-2 may not leave the U.S. during the grace period and re-enter as J-1/J-2 using Form DS-2019.  The grace period cannot be used to work in the US.

J-2 Dependent Status for Spouses and Children

The spouse and unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) of the J-1 scholar are eligible for J-2 dependent status. Each J-2 dependent must be in possession of his/her own DS-2019. When completing the J-1 Exchange Visitor Information Form provided by the ISSO, the J-1 scholar should fill in the section requesting information on any dependents accompanying him/her to the US.

When requesting a dependent DS-2019 after the student or scholar is in the US in J-1 status, he/she needs to submit the Dependent Request Form with the appropriate financial funding information.

J-2 dependents are eligible to apply for employment authorization from the USCIS as long as the employment is not for the purpose of supporting the J-1 scholar. This is renewable annually with USCIS for up to the maximum five year stay of the J-1 principle.

J-2 children are permitted to enroll in elementary or secondary schools while in the U.S. Currently, the regulations do not have a prohibition on J-2s engaging in post-secondary study full time. The duration of the J-1 scholar's stay is stated in item 3 of the DS-2019. If the J-1 scholar is eligible and applies for an extension of stay, the dependent's period of stay will automatically be extended. To obtain the updated DS-2019 for J-2 dependent, the J-1 scholar should include the J-2's information on the appropriate extension request form.

The J-1 scholar should consult with the ISSO regarding extension procedures.

Absence from Program- Travel and Leave Policy

J-1 Research Scholars may travel abroad during their stay at UMass Boston for a period of more than 30 days only if the scholar’s program activity requires the scholar to travel, and the travel abroad is in collaboration with the J program activity of the host department. In such circumstances, ISSO will maintain the exchange visitor’s SEVIS record active. The Request for Temporary Leave of Absence (LOA) must be approved by the host department and submitted to ISSO prior to departing the U.S. The ISSO will determine if the LOA is in accordance with the federal regulations pertaining to J-1 Research Scholar category. If so, the LOA will be granted.

Absences not required/related to the J-1 exchange visitors’ academic objective with the host department may not extend beyond a maximum of 30 days and may not be repetitive in nature. In accordance with federal regulations pertaining to the J-1 Research Scholar category, ISSO cannot maintain that an exchange visitor is in the U.S. actively engaged in the program objective as stated in item #4 on the DS2019 if the research is not in the U.S. Research scholars should be aware that termination of the SEVIS record subjects scholars to the 24-month bar on repeat participation.

When traveling outside of the United States, all scholars should request a travel signature with the Travel Signature Request Form.



Scholar Request Forms for Faculty Hosts

J2 Dependent Information

Scholar Forms and Procedures

J Scholar Insurance

J-1 Guides For Visiting Professors & Researchers