Procedures for Securing J-1 Visa Application
The following is an attempt to de-mystify the process for securing the appropriate visa for an international exchange faculty member or visitor who is being invited to campus.
Forms and Resources
- International Visiting Faculty/Scholar Questionnaire
- Petition to Approve Alternate Insurance
- Department of Homeland Security Advisory
- Exchange Visitor Program Regulations (22 CFR Part 62) of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Prior to the Exchange Visitor's Arrival
Responsibilities of the Department:
The department interested in bringing an international exchange faculty member to campus is responsible for assigning a contact person to facilitate the invitation process. (Please note - the host department and contact person have direct responsibility for advising and assisting the international faculty visitor with locating housing and with the cultural transition as they adapt to the local and campus communities.) The process is initiated by the contact person securing information from the exchange visitor and completing the International Visiting Faculty/Scholar Questionnaire form.
English Proficiency (Effective January 1, 2016)
All J-1 exchange visitors must be proficient enough in English to participate successfully in their exchange program and to function on a day-to-day basis in the United States. This requirement is important to ensuring that scholars are able to live productively and successfully in the US during their exchange program. While departments are given some leeway in determining how proficient scholars must be, they must document proficiency through one or more of the following objective measurements. All J-1 exchange visitors are subject to this requirement, including those who are native speakers of English!
A) Results of a recognized English language test
For this measure, departments should retain a copy of test results with the exchange visitor’s name on them. On a pass/fail test like a Cambridge English exam, the exchange visitor must have at least passed. On a scored test like the TOEFL, the unit can determine how many points it will require, as long as it requires some level of spoken proficiency. Online or informal tests are not an acceptable way of meeting this requirement. Departments may find it helpful to refer to HSU’s Admissions requirements for English proficiency.
B) Signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school
For this measure, departments should retain a copy of a signed document on institutional letterhead. The document should give the scholar’s name and assess his or her proficiency; if the document is not from an English language school (that is, a school that teaches the English language), it should give some basis for the assessment, for example coursework in English or a substantial period of time spent living in an English-speaking country.
C) A documented interview conducted by the sponsor
For this measure, departments should retain a memo or other document* describing the interview and giving an assessment of the scholar’s proficiency. This interview must be performed in person or by video conference. If neither of those options are possible, a phone interview may be used. The interview should be conducted by the faculty sponsor or another employee within the department who is proficient in spoken English. The documentation should include the following information:
The names of the participants,
The date, time, and method of the interview, and
How English proficiency was assessed.
Academic Affairs has a template for this *document, and will provide review and guidance upon request. If you have questions about this requirement, please contact the Director of HSU's International Center.
Responsibilities of the Administration
The Department Chair of the host department forwards to the College Dean:
- a memo requesting that a letter of invitation be drafted to the international visiting faculty member
- the completed International Visiting Faculty/Scholar Questionnaire
Please note: If the International Visiting Faculty/Scholar is being hired to teach a course, then the following steps must be adhered to and the following documents will be forwarded to the individual along with the above-referenced documentation:
- a Lecturer Transaction form (Form 500; not currently available online) is prepared by the Department and forwarded to the College Dean for approval
- Form 500 then is forwarded to Academic Personnel Services, wherein the document is processed into the CMS system and a CMS-generated Letter of Offer is prepared
- the Letter of Offer and Form 500 is forwarded to the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs for approval
The College Dean prepares a letter inviting the exchange visitor to campus, which includes the terms of the invitation (e.g., program being established, research being conducted and/or courses being taught) with the salary and inclusive dates of the appointment, if appropriate. The following is then forwarded to the Director of HSU's International Center:
- the College Dean's letter of invitation
- the completed International Visiting Faculty/Scholar Questionnaire
The Director of HSU's International Center prepares a DS-2019 form and a cover letter, which includes insurance requirement information and a Petition to Approve Alternate Insurance form to be completed and signed by the insurance company should the exchange visitor carry insurance that meets minimum requirements. These items, along with the College Dean's letter of invitation, and, if appropriate, the CMS-generated letter of offer, are forwarded to the exchange visitor.
Responsibilities of the Exchange Visitor
Effective September 1, 2004 , exchange visitors and students are responsible for payment of a Student and Exchange visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee in the amount of $180. Information can be accessed on-line at SEVIS fee payment system.
The following documents should then be presented to the U.S. Consulate, who has jurisdiction over the exchange visitor's place of residence:
- the original, signed DS-2019 form
- proof of having paid the SEVIS fee
- documentation evidencing financial ability to meet expenses (copy of CMS-generated letter of offer, bank statements, etc.)
- the signed letter of invitation from the College Dean
- the original, signed DS-156 form, Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- if required, the original, signed DS-157 form
- Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee
- proof of insurance as prescribed in the university's letter of invitation
The Consular officer will review the documents, and if in order, will stamp the inside of the exchange visitor's passport with a J-1 visa stamp.
Upon receipt of documents from the University, the CMS-generated letter of offer, if applicable, should be signed and returned to Academic Personnel Services immediately upon receipt. If existing insurance is in place, the Petition to Approve Alternate Insurance form is to be completed and signed by the insurer and returned by the exchange visitor to the Director of HSU's International Center prior to the exchange visitor's arrival on campus.
If the exchange visitor will be receiving a stipend for services rendered while on campus, and will not be securing a Social Security number, the exchange visitor is required to obtain an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) and can do so by completing IRS Form W-7. Because it takes approximately 30 days to process, it is suggested that the exchange visitor apply prior to their arrival.
Questions regarding income tax withholding may also be directed to the Accounts Payable Office at Humboldt State University. Additional information is also available on the Financial Services web page.
Insurance coverage for both the exchange visitor and any dependents traveling with them is required by law (per 22 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 62.14 and 62.45 (d) & (f). If the exchange visitor does not have existing insurance coverage which meets the minimum requirements, insurance is available for purchase through the College of eLearning & Extended Education. Said insurance coverage must be obtained prior to the exchange visitor's arrival at HSU.
If the exchange visitor is being employed at a minimum .40 time base, advise them to contact the Office of Human Resources to secure health insurance benefits. Please note - additional insurance coverage to address the repatriation and medical evacuation requirements can then be purchased through the College of eLearning & Extended Education at a reduced rate. Again, if the exchange visitor has insurance which meets the minimum requirements below, the Petition to Approve Alternate Insurance form is to be completed by the insurance company (in English, and coverage converted to American currency), signed, and returned by the exchange visitor to the Director of HSU's International Center prior to the exchange visitor's arrival on campus.
While this requirement may appear unnecessarily prescriptive, the Code of Federal Regulations reads:
"A sponsor shall terminate an exchange visitor's participation in its program if the sponsor determines that the exchange visitor or any accompanying spouse or dependent willfully fails to remain in compliance with insurance requirements."
Minimum insurance coverage is as follows:
- 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 exchange visitor to his/her home country in the amount of $50,000; and
- a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
Upon the Exchange Visitor's Arrival
Responsibilities of the Department:
The department contact person accompanies the exchange visitor to the following locations:
- College of eLearning & Extended Education or Office of Human Resources to secure insurance and obtain a confirmation of purchase
- Office of the Provost for validation of program in the SEVIS system and a brief orientation. Copies of the following documents should be presented at the time of the appointment:
- passport with the exchange visitor's J-1 visa affixed to the inside
- copy of the I-94 form
- evidence of insurance coverage from the College of eLearning & Extended Education or the Office of Human Resources (provided a Petition to Approve Alternate Insurance form has not been forwarded prior to arrival)
- Social Security Office , if appropriate, at 3144 Broadway, Eureka to request a Social Security card
- Human Resource Office on campus to complete pertinent documents
- The Department Administrative Support Coordinator to request an HSU ID number from Academic Personnel Services. Once in place, an e-mail account can be set up and a key authorization request processed
- University Library to obtain a faculty identification card
- Plant Operations to secure keys
See On-Campus Integration and Departure Sequence for New International Faculty Members and Exchange Visitors for more detailed information.
The department contact person completes the "welfare and progress report" for each exchange visitor and submits it to the Director of HSU's International Center every six months. The department contact person also completes the final "welfare and progress report" one week prior to program completion and submits it to the Director of HSU's International Center.
Conclusion of the Program
The exchange visitor will meet with the Director of HSU's International Center to confirm that they are concluding their program and establish the date of return to their home country.