African dancers
Flags from different countries
People talking at the Festival of Cultures

How to Maintain your J-Program Requirements

J scholars should comply with the US federal regulations governing their specific J categories.  The following is a summary of the responsibilities that Tennessee Consortium for International Studies (TnCIS) J scholars should follow in order to maintain lawful status in the U.S.  Scholars sponsored by another institution (Fulbright, for example) should contact their scholar advisors for additional information. 

Initial Registration Requirements
All new J scholars must report to International Services within 30 days of the start date on the DS-2019.

Program Objectives
J scholars must pursue the program objectives as stated on the DS-2019. Changes in program objectives are generally not allowed by the Exchange Visitor Program. 

Restrictions on Employment
J scholars should not engage in any employment that is unrelated to their original program objectives. They are permitted to work at the location(s) listed on the DS-2019 only.   J scholars must obtain prior written authorization from International Services for additional employment that is in accordance with the regulations.

Maintaining Required Health Insurance
The U.S. requires all J-1 Exchange Visitors and their dependents to carry health insurance for the full duration of their J program that meets minimum federal requirements.  TnCIS and the Tennessee Board of Regents’ insurance policy for international students meets this requirement and is recommended for use by all J scholars.  Policy information, current costs, and sign-up is available from your international coordinator.

Change of Residential Address
Immigration regulations require that all non-citizens report any changes to their residential addresses within 10 days. TnCIS J scholars may report their change of address via email to the International Student Coordinator. Scholars sponsored by other institutions should contact their program sponsors directly regarding change of address.  Please note:  Dependents of J-1 scholars are expected to reside with the J-1 scholar.

Program Extension
J scholars may apply for an extension to their DS-2019 if the sponsoring department wishes to extend the stay and the J category allows extension.  The sponsoring department should complete the DS-2019 Extension Form and return it to the International Office at least one month before the current J-1 status expires, as noted on the scholar’s DS-2019.

Required Travel Documents
Please review the travel information page before making plans to travel abroad.  J scholars need a travel signature on their DS-2019 prior to travel outside the U.S.  Signatures may be obtained by completing a signature request form with International Office.

Special Registration Requirements
Please be sure to abide by any Special Registration requirements if a scholar was designated as a "Special Registrant" at a U.S. port of entry.

Program Completion
J scholars and their J-2 dependents must depart the United States within 30 days of their DS-2019 end date or program completion date, whichever is earlier.  J scholars completing their program and leaving the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the DS-2019 end date should notify International Services.

Transfer to another institution
J scholars may be eligible to switch program sponsors if they maintain their original program objective and remain in the same J category.  J scholars who intend to transfer from a TnCIS institution to another U.S. institution must complete a J-1 Scholar Transfer-Out Form. Scholars must complete the transfer process prior to beginning their program at the new institution and prior to the end date of the current DS-2019. 

Transfers from another institution
J scholars who intend to transfer to a TnCIS insitution from another U.S. institution must complete the transfer before beginning their TnCIS program.  The sponsoring department should follow the instructions for requesting an incoming scholar and provide International Services with a copy of the current DS-2019.   International Services will contact the other institution to discuss transfer of the DS-2019.  The J scholar is encouraged to discuss transfer out procedures with the current institution.


Occasional Lectures or consultations
J scholars in Short-Term Scholar and Research Scholar/Professor categories may participate in occasional lectures and short-term consultations at off-campus locations if they do not interfere with the current activities and are approved by the sponsoring department and International Office.  The term occasional is generally understood to refer to single events rather than an ongoing activity.   To request permission for an off-campus lecture or consultation, you will need to submit the following to International Services:

  • Letter from current faculty sponsor or department head that confirms the lecture or consultation is directly related to your principal activity, is indeed incidental, and will not delay completion of your program.  The letter must recommend approval and explain how the proposed activity would enhance your program.
  • Letter of offer from the sponsor of the lecture or consultation describing the terms and conditions of the proposed activity, including the duration, the number of hours, the field or subject, the amount of compensation, and a description of the activity.

If approved, you will receive a letter granting you permission. To be paid, you must be an independent contractor and would use the letter as authorization to receive compensation.


The spouse and unmarried children aged of 21 or younger of the J scholar are eligible for J-2 status and a separate DS-2019.   J-2 visa holders do not have to pay the SEVIS fee.  All J-2 dependents are required to maintain health insurance. International Services will issue the J-2 DS-2019 upon receipt of the following information:

  • Copy of the dependent’s biographical page of the passport showing full name, date of birth, and city of birth.
  • Proof of sufficient funding for each dependent -- $5000 per year on top of the current minimum required for the scholar.

Maintaining J-2 Status
J-2 dependents status in the US is dependent on the J scholar’s maintenance of status.  J-2 dependents may study while in the US.

Employment Permission
J-2 visa holders may apply for work permission from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Permission is granted in the form of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with authorized dates of employment.   Applications take four or more months for approval.  J-2 will need to make an appointment with International Office to file for employment authorization.


J scholars may travel outside the US for periods not to extend 30 days.   The scholar and dependents will need the following for re-entry into the US:

  • A valid passport (if subject to passport requirement)
  • A valid J-1 visa (if subject to visa requirement)
  • A travel signature from International Office
  • Proof of financial support as indicated on the DS-2019
  • Dependents: Dependent J-2 spouse and children must have their own DS-2019 and follow the same procedure as the exchange visitor for re-entry.

Travel Signatures
J scholars may request a travel signature for travel of less than 30 days by submitting a Travel Signature Form.   Documents will be signed within 5 days, or upon submission of request form.

Travel Outside the US Beyond 30 days
Travel outside the US for longer than 30 days that is unrelated to the exchange program activity will result in termination of immigration status. 

J scholars in the Research Scholar or Professor category who will be participating in their exchange program during an absence outside the US of 30 days must request “Out-of-Country” approval prior to leaving the US.  To request “Out-of-Country” Approval, the scholar must submit the following items to International Services with the travel signature form:

  • Expected date of departure from US
  • Expected date of return to US
  • Name of foreign institution in which the scholar will continue to pursue the program activity while outside the US.
  • Foreign institution full address
  • Letter on College letterhead from the sponsoring department approving of the out-of-country activity and explain how the scholar will be an active participant in College’s J Exchange Visitor Program and will be pursuing the original program objective/activity outside the US.

If the “Out-of-Country” is approved, International Services will create a SEVIS “Out-of-Country” and sign the DS-2019 for travel.  Upon return to the US, the scholar should report to International Services.

Obtaining a new J-1 visa
New visa stamps are issued at a US Embassy or Consulate outside the US.  J scholars will need a valid passport, signed DS-2019, evidence of financial support, and a letter from their department detailing their research for the visa application.  Scholars should contact the US Embassy or Consulate directly for additional requirements since the procedures and protocols may vary from Consulate to Consulate. (Please see:  for a current list of all U.S. Embassies and Consulates) 

Automatic Revalidation
Some exchange visitors travelling to Canada, Mexico, and Caribbean countries excluding Cuba for fewer than 30 days may be eligible for automatic revalidation of their expired J-1 visas.
For information, contact International Office.