J-1 Overview

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State's (DOS) Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, as amended. The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is "to promote international educational and cultural exchange in order to develop mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries."

The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), is authorized as a J-1 program sponsor for short-term scholars, professors, research scholars, student interns, and students.  UCSB’s Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) issues the “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status”, known as the “DS-2019 form”.  The DS-2019 form establishes the record in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and is needed to apply for a J-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate.


Family members of J-1 Exchange Visitors (legally married spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) can enter the U.S. as J-2 Dependents.  Other family members (such as parents, siblings or domestic partners) are not eligible for J-2 status, but may be eligible to visit the U.S. as tourists with a B-2 visa.


Below are some basic eligibility requirements for all J-1 Short-Term Scholars, Research Scholars, Professors, and Student Interns:

  1. Purpose of pursuing an appropriate activity (such as research, teaching, or training)
  2. Must demonstrate intent to return to home country (as determined by consular officer)
  3. Sufficient funding for program – see minimum financial requirements
  4. Appropriate background for program activity (must meet appropriate degree requirements)
  5. Adequate English proficiency (determined by the host department—see English Language Proficiency form)

Following are details that are more specific to each J-1 Category:

Short-Term Scholar

Professors, research scholars, specialists or people with similar education or accomplishments who come to the United States on a short-term (6 months or less) for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training or demonstrating special skills at universities and similar institutions.


Research Scholar and Professor

These two categories are identical but differ only as to whether the visitor’s primary academic intent is to conduct research or to teach. Research Scholars may also teach or lecture in conjunction with their research activities, if allowed by the sponsoring department. Professors may also conduct research in conjunction with their teaching, if allowed by the sponsoring department.

Student Intern (for Undergraduate and some Master's student researchers)
Students who are enrolled in and pursuing a degree at an accredited postsecondary academic institution outside the U.S., and are coming to UCSB for an internship that will satisfy an educational requirement towards their academic program at their home institution.

  • Maximum duration of 12 months
  • Must be currently "enrolled in and pursuing a degree at an accredited postsecondary academic institution outside the United States." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)]
  • Internship must "fulfill the educational objectives for the current degree program at the student’s home institution." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)]
  • Have "verifiable English language skills sufficient to function on a day-to-day basis in the internship environment." [22 C.F.R. 62.23(i)(1)(i)]
  • 12-month bar MAY apply on repeat participation as J-1 Research Scholar or Professor
  • 24- month bar on repeat participation as J-1 Research Scholar or Professor DOES NOT apply
  • 212(E) Two Year Home Residency Requirement may apply.

Tourist Visa (B1/B2) VS Exchange Visitor (J-1) visa.

A tourist visa (B1/B2/WB/WT) status may, at first glance, seem appropriate for certain visitors who are invited to UCSB. These visits may be short in duration, the visitor may not be paid, and will not have a formal appointment at the university. However, if the university is benefiting from the visit, if equipment and facilities used are owned or operated by the university, the contents of the visit and/or research activity undertaken might result in the form of published work, patent or discovery at a later date, and/or the visitor is involved in a formally structured program, use of B1/B2/WB/WT visa will contradict U.S. Department of State guidelines. In such cases a J-1 visa would be the appropriate visa status. The Department of State has made clear that any visitor to a U.S. academic institution who engages in a collaborative activity or research, and whose activity will benefit the hosting institution should be sponsored for a J-1 visa.