The Exchange Visitor Program
The University of Texas at Tyler
The U.S. Department of State administers the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange
Act of 1961, as amended. The Act promotes mutual understanding between the people
of the United States and other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange.
The Exchange Visitor Program provides foreign nationals with opportunities to participate
in exchange programs in the United States and then return home to share their experiences.
In accordance with provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), the University of Texas at Tyler has delegated to International Student, Scholar and Faculty Services (ISSFS) of the Office of International Programs (OIP) sole authority to administer the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program in support of the teaching and research mission of the University.
The U.S. Department of State designates sponsors to administer individual exchange visitor programs. Sponsors are U.S. organizations such as government agencies, academic institutions, educational and cultural organizations, and corporations. They screen and select exchange visitors participating in their programs, provide them with pre-arrival information, an orientation, and monitor their activities. Sponsors offer exchange visitors cross-cultural activities that will expose them to American society, culture, and institutions. Exchange visitors are encouraged to voluntarily participate in activities that provide them with an opportunity to share their language, culture, and history with Americans.
An exchange visitor is a foreign national selected by a sponsor to participate in an exchange program, and is issued a J-1 visa. An accompanying spouse and any unmarried children under 21 years of age may apply for J-2 visas, with the permission of the sponsor.
Sponsors appoint individuals as responsible officers and alternate responsible officers to advise and assist exchange visitors. These officers issue the Certificates of Eligibility (Form DS-2019), and conduct official communications with the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Rules and Regulations:
It is important that the exchange visitor understands and abides by the Exchange Visitor Program regulations, U.S. laws, and sponsor’s institutional rules. Regular contact with the responsible officer helps the J-1 scholar in keeping current of any changes, which may affect their J status.
Activities and Program Provisions:
An exchange visitor (EV) will enter the United States in one program category, and will be required to engage in that category and subject/field of activity listed on his/her form DS-2019. The EV must comply with the specific program provisions of the regulations relating to the program category.
Maintenance of Status:
An exchange visitor is required to have a valid and unexpired Form DS-2019. Sponsors may terminate an exchange visitor's program for violating U.S. laws, Exchange Visitor Program regulations or the sponsor's rules governing their particular program.
An exchange visitor must inform the responsible officer if he/she changes his/her address or telephone number, or complete or withdraw from the exchange program early. Doing so will assist the sponsor in complying with their notification and reporting requirements to the U.S. Department of State.
The U.S. Department of State requires that the program sponsor provides the exchange visitors with an orientation program. After the exchange visitors attend the orientation, an International Student & Scholar Advisor will validate his/her arrival in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) database. This notifies the Department of Homeland Security that the invited exchange visitor has arrived, and has begun his/her J-1 exchange visitor program activities. This process also changes the exchange visitor’s SEVIS record to ACTIVE status.
Failure to attend orientation and have his/her SEVIS record validated may result in future immigration complications as well as problems in obtaining a Social Security Number.
Funding/Financial Support Requirements:
Funding source for the exchange visitor may be from:
- The inviting University / Department within the University,
- The exchange visitor's home country government,
- The exchange visitor's personal funds, or
- A combination of these sources.
Verification of funding/financial support is required. If the funding is from the inviting University / Department within the University, then the initial request by the department can be for up to a maximum of five years.
The funding/financial support requirements for exchange visiting scholars are:
- $1,500/month (J-1)
- $500/month (J-2 spouse)
- $500/month (per J-2 child)
Medical Insurance Requirements:
U.S. Department of State regulations require all J-1 Exchange Visitors to have medical insurance for themselves and any accompanying J-2 family members for the duration of their program.
All J-1 exchange visitors are required to purchase an insurance policy for the entire duration of the exchange program (as indicated on your DS-2019) if the program's duration is less than six months. If the program will continue for one or more years, the exchange visitor may purchase insurance for first 3 months and renew the policy in 3-month increments. It is the exchange visitor's responsibility to provide proof of continuous insurance coverage to ISSFS/OIP.
Willful violation of the insurance requirement is a violation of J-1 status and can result in the termination of the J-1 program by ISSFS/OIP, in accordance with immigration regulations.
The insurance must meet the following requirements:
- Major Medical Coverage: $50,000 per accident/illness
- Deductible cannot exceed: $500
- Medical Evacuation: $10,000
- Repatriation of Remains: $ 7,500
Fulfilling this insurance requirement is essential, because of the U.S. Department of State regulations, and also because medical treatment in the United States can be very expensive without proper insurance coverage.
It is the J-1 visa holder's responsibility to notify ISSFS/OIP of J-2 dependents who are currently in the United States or who arrive subsequently and present evidence of appropriate insurance coverage for them.
Travel outside the United States:
When traveling outside the United States, J-1 Exchange Visitors and dependents must have their DS-2019 signed for travel by their J Advisor in ISSFS/OIP, must have a valid passport and a valid visa for re-entry to the United States. For more information, please visit: Exchange Visitor Program Guide.