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Obtaining Your J-1 Visa

If you are approved by the appropriate Dean and Department Chair to participate as a Visiting Scholar for one semester or longer at Southern, you will be asked to fill out the Office of International Education's (OIE) internal J-1 Exchange Visitor Application. This application provides us with the information necessary in order to assemble information needed to issue your DS-2019 (for immigration purposes), and to place you in the appropriate J-1 visa category: Research Scholar or Short-Term Scholar. We ask that the application be filled out and returned with all supporting documentation at your earliest convenience so that we can continue making plans for your stay at Southern.

Interview Process

The Scholar's SCSU faculty host will conduct an interview with the scholar to complete the OIE's J-1 Exchange Visitor English Proficiency Interview Form.

Receive a Letter of Invitation

An official Letter of Invitation will also be issued to the J-1 Visiting Scholar detailing who will serve as the scholar's SCSU Faculty Host during his/her time at SCSU, information on who to contact in the OIE, and Federal regulations on Health Insurance requirements for J-1 Visiting Scholars. The letter will be signed, sent via email and express mailed to the scholar to bring with him/her to the consular/embassy abroad when applying for the J-1 Visa.

Receive Your DS-2019: Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (J-Nonimmigrant)

Once the J-1 Exchange Visitor Application has been submitted, documentation showing Proof of comprehensive health insurance and proof of sufficient funds/finances (to support the Exchange Visitor and all dependents for the duration of his/her stay) are required in order for the OIE to issue the DS-2019.

Proof of health insurance may be submitted in the form of a statement of benefits or a breakdown of insurance coverage. Click here to review a sample statement of benefits to show what this document might look like. Here are the Federal Regulations for minimum health insurance coverage requirements for J-1 Exchange Visitors. If the scholar's current health insurance does not meet these requirements, the scholar may choose to purchase the SCSU comprehensive health insurance.

Proof of finances may be submitted in the form of a bank statement to show that the Exchange Visitor has sufficient funds to live off-campus for the duration of his/her semesters at SCSU.

Upon receipt of comprehensive health insurance and proof of finances, a draft of the DS-2019 will be sent for review and confirmation that all information is accurate. The finalized DS-2019 will then be express mailed to the mailing address specified by the scholar.

Pay the SEVIS (I-901) fee

Before you can apply for your J-1 visa, you must pay the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee. Canadian students (who don't need a visa to enter the United States) must also pay this fee.

How to pay:
The easiest payment method is online, but you can also pay by mail or Western Union.

The SEVIS I-901 fee is $180.00 for J visa applicants and is non‐refundable. However, in the unlikely instance that your visa application is denied, you may reapply for a new J-1 visa within 12 months without having to pay a new SEVIS fee. If you choose to transfer your record, either between universities or advancing your degrees, you will not need to pay the I-901 fee again. The SEVIS I-901 fee stays with your SEVIS record via your SEVIS number. Anytime you receive a new SEVIS record with a new SEVIS number, you must pay the fee.

Apply for your visa with your U.S. Embassy or Consulate

You'll apply for your visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate closest to you. Apply as early as you can so you have plenty of time for the interview and processing—in many cases you can apply 120 days prior to your academic program start date shown on your DS-2019. Check the Consulate or Embassy's website for application instructions. The US Department of State lists appointment and processing wait times.
Once you have applied and received your visa, please contact Jazmin Sharif to confirm that you have been issued a visa and to notify the office of your travel plans/itinerary information.

Recommendation on reviewing potential rentals nearby during your J-1 Program:

While J-1 Scholars are responsible for securing their own off-campus accommodations, they have the option of contacting Squeakly, a fee-based property review service for local rentals operated by Yale University's School of Management students. 

Travel to the U.S.

When you have received your J-1 visa, you can arrange your travel. You can enter the US as early as 30 days before the program start date on your DS-2019 (but no earlier).

Document checklist


Your passport, valid for at least six months from your entry date
Your DS-2019
Proof of SEVIS fee payment (receipt or Form I-797)
Welcome Letter and/or Letter of Invitation from Southern Connecticut State University
Original financial documents proving sufficient funding, as reflected on your DS-2019
Medical records: certificates of immunizations and vaccinations, and any prescriptions or necessary medical documents
Documents demonstrating your intent to return to your home country the U.S. once you've completed your studies/research at SCSU

Pass through Immigration at your US port of entry

Once you arrive in the US, you'll go through Immigration and speak with an officer. Be prepared to show your documents and answer questions about your program of study, your family ties, and your intent to return home. Verify that the US entry stamp in your passport is clear and shows your status (J-1) and duration of that status (D/S). Read more about what to do when you arrive in the US.