Current: J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa

Researcher looking at a test tube

SEVIS Reporting Requirements

The information provided is to inform our UConn Health sponsored internationals about the new federally mandated Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) regulations. An event such as change of address must immediately be reported to UConn Health and the Department of Homeland Security.

Travel Outside the U.S.

All J-1 exchange visitors planning to travel outside of the U.S. who plan to return must have the following documents to present for reentry into the U.S.:

  • A valid passport.
  • A valid J-1 visa (the visa stamp in your passport should be valid beyond the date you return to the U.S. and should have multiple entries).
  • A valid and endorsed SEVIS Form DS-2019 issued by the Human Resources Office of International Programs. Your DS-2019 must be endorsed prior to your travel. If your DS-2019 was issued by another Exchange Visitor Program, you should contact that organization directly for travel signatures.
  • A recent transcript or enrollment verification letter from the Registrar’s Office indicating full-time enrollment at UConn Health. Request forms are available on the Student Services Center Registrar website.
  • When you arrive back to the United States after a trip abroad you will receive an admission stamp in your passport. Please go to the Admission (I-94) Number Retrieval page on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website to print a copy of your Admission Number Retrieval Form for your records. Also, you will need to drop off or email a copy of the form to the UConn Health International Office. You must remember to do this every time you re-enter the country.

In the interest of national security, federal mandates must be followed. If the present visa stamp in your passport has expired, you must secure the J-1 visa from the U.S. Embassy in the country of travel as all U.S. Embassies have different procedures for visa application. This procedure can take over 30 to 45 days. It is strongly recommended that you review the specific information on their website or contact them prior to your travel. To contact a specific embassy, visit the U.S. Embassies website. Individuals from certain countries or from certain disciplines may be subject to additional security clearance. Additional travel information is also available at the U.S. Department of State website.

For visa processing at the U.S. Embassies in the country of travel, the following is also required:

  • Financial support documents. If you are employed by UConn Health as a graduate assistant or dental resident, contact Elizabeth Fay for an employment verification letter from Human Resources.
  • Most recent transcript and a letter from the Registrar’s Office indicating full-time enrollment at UConn Health.
  • Marriage certificate for your spouse and birth certificates for your children if your dependents will be applying for J-2 dependent visas.

Travel to Canada or Mexico

Nationals from countries sponsoring terrorism will in all cases require a valid visa in order to reenter the United States following short trips to Canada or Mexico. The countries falling within this classification are: Iran, Syria,  and Sudan. To see the most up-to-date information, visit the U.S. Department of State website.

Foreign nationals from all other countries will still be able to reenter the United States following short trips of under 30 days upon presentation of valid immigration documents showing maintenance of nonimmigrant status PROVIDED that they have not applied for a visa in Canada or Mexico.

If a third country national applies for a visa through a U.S. Consulate in Canada or Mexico, that individual will need to possess a valid visa in order to reenter the United States. This means that if the visa is denied, the foreign national will no longer be able to reenter the United States by presenting a valid I-94 card; rather, he/she would most likely need to return home in order to apply for a visa through a U.S. Consulate in the home country. In fact, third country visa processing is now particularly unattractive for nationals from 26 countries (i.e., generally, countries in the Middle East) who are now subject to up to a 30 to 45 day background security check prior to visa issuance. This means that nationals of these countries would need to wait out this background check in Canada or Mexico prior to returning to this country. While the BCIS Immigration Inspectors at the border have certain latitudes to admit temporarily a foreign national who does not possess a valid visa, this is a discretionary matter which certainly does not provide any type of assurance or predictability of successful readmission to the U.S.

Maintaining Legal Status

Exchange visitors on a J-1 visa are required by immigration law and regulations to maintain their legal status in the United States. Failure to maintain legal status will result in loss of legal status and the inability to remain at UConn Health. To meet the requirement, internationals must:

  1. Keep their passport valid at all times. Information on how to renew the passport is available on your local embassy's website. Additional information can be found on the Online Resources page.
  2. An exchange visitor scholar must engage in the activity described on his or her IAP-66 form.
  3. Extensions of Stay must be applied for at least 30 days before the expiration date on the I-20 or IAP-66.
  4. Off-campus employment must be approved by the Office of International Programs.

Employment

Student employment is permitted only if it is an integral part of the program for which the exchange visitor came to the U.S. (such as financial support received as a visiting instructor or research fellow), or is in the student's field of study and will not unduly delay his/her degree (such as a graduate assistantship). Permission for all employment must be obtained from the Office of International Programs.

Extension of Stay

The exchange visitor may apply for an extension of stay two months prior to the expiration date of his/her stay by contacting the Office of International Programs. Degree students will be permitted to remain as long as they pursue scholastic programs leading to degrees or certificates as defined by the program description. Non-degree students are limited to 24 months. The maximum period of stay for professors, research scholars and specialists is five years. Extensions for good cause beyond the five-year maximum stay need additional documentation and requests for this special extension must be made to the Office of International Programs three months in advance of the expiration date on the DS-2019.

Dependents

If sufficient financial support is documented, UConn Health may sponsor the spouse and/or children to accompany the visitor. Dependents are classified as J-2. The Office of International Programs must certify that sufficient funds are available to support the spouse and/or children for their first year in the U.S.

Employment of the dependent is permitted only if USCIS approves his/her application to work, and if the work is necessary for the support of the dependent only. J-2 dependents may enroll as students for full or part-time study.

Academic Training

After obtaining a degree, a J-1 student may need a period of practical work experience in the field of study. Upon recommendation of the faculty advisor and with the approval of the program sponsor, such training may be granted for a maximum period of 18 to 36 months depending upon the program. Consult with the Office of International Programs concerning eligibility and application procedures.

Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement

An exchange visitor is not eligible to apply for a change of status, immigrant status or non-immigrant H-1 until he/she has been physically established in his/her country for an aggregate of two years following his/her last departure from the U.S. if he/she has:

  1. Received direct or indirect financial support from the United States government or his/her country government;
  2. Come from a country "in need of the skills acquired by its national in the U.S." as determined by the U.S. International Communication Agency and published in the Exchange Visitor Skills List, March 17, 1997; or
  3. Received medical training.

If an exchange visitor is subject to this requirement under Section 212(e), a preliminary notation may appear on the DS-2019 Form.

In extenuating circumstances some J-1 exchange visitors can be granted a waiver from the U.S. Department of State.