J-1 Exchange Visitors


ARRIVAL

 Welcome to Augusta University! 

I’m Beverly Tarver, the Responsible Officer for the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program at Augusta University. I look forward to meeting with you personally after your arrival. Immediately upon your arrival at Augusta University please contact the International and Postdoctoral Services office at 706-721-0670 to schedule an appointment. The office is located on the second floor of the Kelly Administration Building (AA 2013).

 J-1 Pre-Arrival Packet

 J-1 Orientation Packet

 ** Failure to report to International and Postdoctoral Services Office within 30 days of your program begin date at Augusta University may result in automatic cancellation of your J-1 program by SEVIS and further action by United States Department of Homeland Security.  Cancellation of your J-1 program may make you ineligible to participate in your stated J-1 program activities (including Augusta University employment) until your J-1 program is re-instated. **

If possible, you should wait until your application for a J-1 visa is approved before making travel plans. Travel arrangements and payment for travel arrangements are the responsibility of the J-1 visitor. 

The Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field is located 7 miles from downtown Augusta on Doug Barnard Parkway (56 spur) south of Bobby Jones Expressway (I-520). You will probably fly into Augusta from Atlanta, Georgia, or Charlotte, North Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina, another airline hub, is approximately 1.5 hours west of Augusta.  

If you will not arrive at Augusta University and report to the International and Postdoctoral Services Office for program validation within 30 days before or after the date listed on your Form DS-2019, please notify the research or academic department and International and Postdoctoral Services as soon as possible. The Augusta University research or academic unit requesting the DS-2019 must determine if it is appropriate to request a change of your arrival date in SEVIS. If the research or academic unit determines that it is appropriate, the department should request that change at least 7 days before the original arrival date. If the department does not request a change of the arrival date and the J-1 visitor arrives in the U.S. more than 30 days after the SEVIS current program begin date (may be different on the Form DS-2019), SEVIS will automatically invalidate the Exchange Visitor’s record. The United States Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry may not allow the visitor to enter the U.S. on the Augusta University DS-2019.

SEVIS

What is the SEVIS fee?
This SEVIS fee is required of all foreign nationals who come to the United States for the purpose of pursuing a full course of study in institutions such as colleges, universities and language training programs. It is payable one time for each single educational program in which a J-1 participates, extending from the time the exchange visitor is granted J-1 status to the time the exchange visitor falls out of status, changes status or departs the U.S. for an extended period of time.

This fee went into effect September 1, 2004. SEVIS fee payments are used by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to fund the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. This program makes it possible for international students and exchange visitors to attend schools in the United States. The fee also funds the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a computer system employed to track international students and exchange visitors during their stays in the United States.

Which Exchange Visitors Must Pay the SEVIS Fee?

  • Those who are seeking a J-1 visa from a United States embassy or consulate for first-time participation in an initial J program. In this case, the SEVIS fee must be paid at least three days before the visa appointment at the embassy or consulate.
  • Those who are in the United States and wish to change to exchange visitor (J-1) status from another non-immigrant status with a Form DS-2019. (For example, from B-2 to J-1 exchange visitor status.)
  • Those who hold a valid J-1 visa, have been absent from the United States for a period of more than 5 months (not working on your J program activities during this time with the prior approval of your program sponsor), and will re-enter the United States for a new program. In this case, the SEVIS fee must be paid BEFORE re-entry to the United States.
  • Residents of a contiguous territory or adjacent island who are exempt from the visa requirement (for example, citizens of Canada or Bermuda), and will apply for admission at a port of entry to begin an initial J program. In this case, the SEVIS fee must be paid BEFORE entry to the United States.

When do exchange visitors pay the SEVIS fee?

  • Applicants needing a visa to enter the United States should pay the SEVIS fee at least 3 business days before going to the U.S. embassy or consulate for their visa interview.
  • Applicants who are citizens of Canada or Bermuda or residents of certain other islands described in 8CFR 212.1a wishing to apply for J-1 status should pay the SEVIS fee at least 3 business days before entering the United States at a port of entry.
  • Non-immigrants currently in the United States who apply for student or exchange visitor status must pay the fee prior to filing their change of status application.

When must continuing exchange visitors pay the SEVIS fee?

Continuing exchange visitors (J-1 non-immigrants who have begun, but not finished a program) must pay the SEVIS fee before:

  • Filing a reinstatement application after a substantive violation after they have been out of status between 121 and 269 days.
  • Applying for a change of exchange visitor category, unless the new exchange visitor category is fee exempt (federally sponsored programs with program codes that start with G-1, G-2, G-3 or G-7). 

How does one pay the fee?

The SEVIS fee is U.S. $180 for J-1 Exchange Visitors. This fee is separate from and in addition to the visa application fee. The SEVIS fee can be paid online. It cannot be paid at a U.S. embassy or consulate, and it cannot be paid at a port of entry.

To pay online

1. To pay the fee, visit the SEVIS I-901 Fee website.

2. Complete the form online and supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard or American Express information. Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your Form DS-2019.

3. Print a copy of the online receipt.

4. Be sure to make copies of your receipt and keep it with your other important immigration documents.

(NOTE: A third party such as a friend, family member, or other interested party can pay the fee on your behalf through the same means described above. 

When is the payment processed and verified?

When you pay the SEVIS fee online, your payment is processed immediately and you can print a receipt directly from your computer. This receipt can be used – and may be required – at an embassy, consular post or port of entry to verify you have paid the fee.

Is the SEVIS fee transferable in the case of a new exchange visitor applying to more than one school?

Yes. The Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that fee payment made on one SEVIS ID number (Form DS-2019) can be applied to another SEVIS ID number issued to the same individual.

Is the SEVIS fee refundable if I am denied a visa?

Once paid, the SEVIS fee is non-refundable, unless paid by mistake, even if your visa is denied or, after the visa is issued, you choose not to come to the United States. If you applied for a J-1 visa and paid the SEVIS fee within the last year but were denied a visa, you do not have to pay the SEVIS fee again as long as you re-apply for the same kind of program within 12 months of the initial denial.


“Frequently Asked Questions About the SEVIS Fee. (n.d.)”Resource Library. NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Retrieved from www.nafsa.org/Find_Resources/Supporting_International_Students_And_Scholars/Network_Resources/International_Student_and_Scholar_Services/SEVIS_Fee_for_F-1_Students/.

MAINTAINING YOUR J-1 STATUS

Regardless of nonimmigrant status, the documentation secured for your participation in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program at Augusta University and your stay in the United States is only valid while you are participating in your Augusta University-hosted Exchange Visitor Program. IPSO must be notified of any plans for change to your Exchange Visitor Program to avoid being considered out of status. Failure to notify IPSO can result in the termination of your Exchange Visitor program and can negatively impact future petitions for nonimmigrant status and/or permanent residency.

Documentation

All documents issued by the U.S. government or your home country in connection with your immigration status should be kept in a safe place, as they may be required for future immigration processing, travel, visa applications, work authorization and/or related matters. Replacement of documents is the responsibility of the exchange visitor. These documents include:

  • Passport (Issued by: Your Country of Citizenship)
    • Make sure to renew passports (including those of dependents) at the earliest opportunity
  • Visa (Issued by: United States Department of the State)
    • Your visa is your “ticket” into the United States. It does not grant you valid status in the country. The expiration of your visa does not necessarily mean your status in the U.S. has expired. You do, however, need a valid visa to re-enter the U.S. after any international travel.
  • I-94 (Issued by: United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or USCIS)
    • As of May 2013, I-94 records are now created electronically upon entry into the U.S. Instead of a paper form, the visitor will be provided with an annotated stamp in their passport. To retrieve and/or print your I-94, please visit the Customs and Border Protection website.
    • Your I-94 will list an “Admit Until Date” of “D/S” for “duration of status.” The “D/S” correlates to the program completion date on your Form DS-2019.
    • Customs and Border Protection will still issue a paper Form I-94 to exchange visitors who enter the U.S. at a land border port of entry. In some other cases, CBP may also issue a paper Form I-94.
    • The CBP Arrival / Departure Record is also now recorded electronically. This record can also be accessed on the Customs and Border Protection website. The old paper forms used to be attached to your passport by a CBP officer upon entering the United States, with an expiration date stamped on the form.
  • Form DS-2019 (Issued by Augusta University, J program sponsor)
    • The basic document used in the administration of the exchange visitor program which permits a prospective exchange visitor to seek an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in order to obtain a J visa to enter the United States.
    • The Form DS-2019 identifies the exchange visitor and their designated sponsor and provides a brief description of the exchange visitor’s program, including the start and end date, category of exchange and an estimate of the cost of the exchange program. For more information, read the detailed description of the DS-2019.

EXTENDING YOUR J-1 STATUS

 Processing for the extension of your J-1 status may begin up to six months prior to expiration of your most recent Form DS-2019. It is your responsibility to notify your college or department of your pending expiration. However, it is the college or department's decision whether or not to extend sponsorship of your status. If your department agrees to extend your J-1 status and you have time available to extend in your current J-1 category, you can move forward with the extension process as follows:

  • If your financial support is from sources other than Augusta University, gather updated original financial documents
  • Bring all of the above forms and/or documents to your appointment

EMPLOYMENT

 J-1 Students

Students should contact the International and Postdoctoral Services Office at 706-721-0670 for information on obtaining the required permission for employment.

J-1 Faculty/Visiting Scholars

The regulation (Title 22, Section 62.16) states the following:

Employment
   (a) An exchange visitor may receive compensation from the sponsor or the sponsor’s appropriate designee for employment when such activities are part of the exchange visitor’s program.
   (b) An exchange visitor who engages in unauthorized employment shall be deemed to be in violation of his or her program status and is subject to termination as a participant in an exchange visitor program.
   (c) The acceptance of employment by an accompanying spouse or minor child of an exchange visitor is governed by Immigration and Naturalization Service regulations.

Exchange visitors who wish to work for any employer other than the school named on the Form DS-2019 must first obtain written approval from their Responsible Officer. The employment must be evaluated by the Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer in terms of the program objectives and individual circumstances to determine whether it is appropriate. The proposed employment must be:

  1. Directly related to the program objectives, and
  2. Incidental to the exchange visitor’s primary program activities, and
  3. Not delay the completion date of the exchange visitor’s program.

The exchange visitor must submit certain documentation in support of this request (please contact the International and Postdoctoral Services Office). If the employment is an occasional lecture of short-term consultation without a regular salary, the SEVIS record will be updated with permission from the Responsible Officer. If the individual will be teaching a course at another school, for example, and receiving an ongoing salary, a new Form DS-2019 that reflects this situation must be issued and the U.S. Department of State notified. Casual part-time work unrelated to the exchange visitor’s program is not allowed.

TRAVEL

If you are planning to travel outside of the United States (for less than five months*) and return to the U.S. then you must, at a minimum, have the following documents with you when you return to the US: 

  • An unexpired passport that is valid for at least six months after your return to the U.S. 
  • A valid, unexpired visa on the day you re-enter the US 
  • A valid Form I-94 that shows that you have not overstayed.  NOTE:  (J visitors should have a “D/S” for “duration of status” on their Form I-94.)
  • All current and expired Forms DS-2019 or IAP-66
  • Proof of your current financial support 
  • A valid Form DS-2019 endorsed for travel  

Before you leave the U.S., you should:

1. Advise your PI and/or department manager of:

  • your intention to travel outside of the U.S.
  • your dates of travel
  • your travel itinerary
  • your contact information while you are away 
  • your family members who will accompany you

2. Request a letter from your department or college signed by your PI or department manager. The letter should:

  • be addressed to “to whom it may concern:” 
  • state that your Augusta University mentor, department manager and/or college administrator has been advised of your travel plans; 
  • include your expected departure and return dates 
  • state that you are a student and/or employee in good standing and expected to return to continue your program.

J-1 students only: The letter should come from your college (i.e. Hull College of Business) or from academic advising. For J-1 students in The Graduate School, the letter should come from the dean or the dean's representative.

J-1 students should also request a copy of your academic transcript from the registrar’s office and have the document available for review if requested when they return at the port of entry.

3. Request a travel endorsement appointment with IPSO and bring the following to your appointment:

  • the original signed letter from you college/department
  • your passport (with current visa stamp)
  • current DS-2019
  • current Form I-94 (printed from the Customs and Border Protection website)

NOTES

Dependent family members (J-2s) who travel (with or without their J-1), must also request a travel endorsement on each of their DS-2019s.  Each family member must present their current DS-2019, their current passport, their current visa stamp and their current Form I-94 to IPSO for review prior to receiving a travel endorsement. 

When appropriate, IPSO will generate new DS-2019s for the J-1 and dependent(s). NOTE: The J-1 must sign any new Form DS-2019 issued on their behalf or on behalf of their dependent(s) under 14 years old. Dependents (J-2s) over 14 years old must sign their own DS-2019s. 

If you plan to travel to a country other than your home country or country of legal residence, contact the consulate or embassy for the country you plan to visit to determine the entry and exit documents required. Travel may include flight connections, layovers and stopovers due to airline scheduling.

*Absence from the US for more than five months may automatically end your current J program under immigration services regulations.  Contact IPSO as soon as possible if this is your intent or circumstance.  

**All travelers.  If your visa has expired, you have used all of your allowable entries, you were approved for a change of status in the U.S. or for any reason you do not have a valid visa stamp in your passport for your current status and you travel outside of the United States, you must renew or apply for and secure a new visa outside of the U.S. before attempting to re-enter the U.S.  You should contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country that you will visit for information on visa renewal or application procedures.  If you will not visit your home country, you should seek information on third party country visas for the country that you will visit.  See the U.S. Department of State website for U.S. embassy and consulate information.  

*****All travelers upon return must report to the International and Postdoctoral Services Office with passport, visa and current Form DS-2019. 

Individuals in J-1 status are required to resume their research and/or pursue a full course of study as required by their program immediately after re-entering the U.S.  

HEALTH INSURANCE

The J Exchange Visitor Program requirement for insurance states that J Program sponsors must notify their exchange visitors (EVs) of the insurance regulation (22 CFR Part 62.14). All exchange visitors and their accompanying J-2 dependents must have health and accident insurance coverage that meets the minimum requirements established by the United States Department of States (USDOS) for the duration of the J Program (even if the EV or dependents exit the U.S. for periods of time during his/her J Program).

Augusta University, as a J Program sponsor, has determined the following meet the USDOS requirements:

  • If you are a J-1 who is employed at Augusta University in a benefits-eligible position, then the employee insurance plans offered through AU are acceptable, as long as the deductible is not higher than $500. In addition, you will be required to purchase repatriation and medical evacuation insurance offered through an AU student/scholar policy to fully meet the J Program requirements, since this insurance is not included in the employee insurance plans.
  • If you are a J-1 who is not employed at AU or is in a position that is not benefits-eligible, then you will be required to purchase the insurance offered to AU students/scholars. This insurance includes repatriation and medical evacuation coverage.
  • As a J-1, insurance provided through your sponsor may be accepted, but it must be reviewed and approved by the Augusta University J Program Responsible Officer (RO).

During your first check-in appointment with our office, the AU Responsible Officer will review the procedures to purchase the insurance. Within one business day, you will be required to purchase and show proof of insurance to the Responsible Officer in our office. You will also be required to sign a statement certifying that you understand and are in compliance with this requirement.

As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you understand that failure to comply with the USDOS and Augusta University requirements for insurance may result in termination of your J Program. Please also note that you may be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

CHANGING TO H-1B STATUS

Due to personnel limitations, IPSO can only correspond with applicants for whom we have received a Processing Request Form from the hosting/hiring unit. Please start any change of status process through your college/unit administrator.

Some important points to keep in mind about any change of immigration status:

        • A change of status will usually require a 3-6 month processing time.
        • IMPORTANT: Applicants subject to 212(e) require an I-612 approval notice to be eligible for H-1B, TN or E-3 status.
          • Applicants subject to 212(e) (see NOTE below) are urged to inform their hiring/hosting unit and IPSO before taking any action on a waiver of 212(e).
          • The waiver process differs with each individual, but can be expected to take at least 6 months.
          • Full documentation is required.
            • Regardless of status, full documentation of your educational background, work experience and previous immigration status will be necessary. This includes, but is not limited to:
              • A Nonimmigrant Applicant Form, completed in its entirety
              • A current Curriculum Vitae, with all dates listed in month/year format
              • For those currently in the U.S., copies of your passport, visa, Form I-94, and current status document (I-797, I-20, DS-2019)
              • If applicable, copies of publications (1st page only)
              • For foreign trained physicians, a copy of ECFMG certification and USMLE scores
              • Physicians requiring a license to practice medicine in Georgia must have the license in hand before any petition can be sent to USCIS
              • Copies of degrees. For foreign graduates, a credential evaluation of their degrees. Companies that provide this service include: Educational Assessment Inc., Educational Credential Evaluators Inc., Global Credential Evaluators Inc., Lisano International, Josef Silny & Associates and
              • Note: original documents are not required for immigration processing. Copies, in most cases, will suffice.
            • Augusta University does not sponsor medical or dental residents for H-1B or O-1 status
            • Applicants who require sponsorship for nonimmigrant status must have met the minimum requirements of the position when the petition is submitted to USCIS. Petitions cannot be submitted for pending graduates.

NOTE: Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement

Section 212 (e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and PL-94-184 as amended

Exchange visitors whose programs are financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by either their government or by the U.S. Government are required to reside in their home country for two years following completion of their program before they are eligible for immigrant status temporary worker (H) status or intra-company transferee (L) status. Likewise, exchange visitors who are acquiring a skill which is in short supply in their home country will be subject to the same two-year home-country residence requirement. These skills appear on the “Exchange Visitor Skills List.”

The U.S. Department of State reserves the right to make the final determination regarding 212(e). Note that marriage to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident or birth of a child in the United States does not remove this requirement. The requirement also applies to the J-2 dependent(s) of exchange visitors who are subject.

Some but not all exchange visitors are subject to the two-year home residence rule. The purpose of this requirement is to have the home country benefit from the exchange visitor's experience in the U.S. Exchange visitors come to the U.S. for a specific objective such as program of study or a research project. The requirement is intended to prevent a participant from staying longer than necessary for the objective and to ensure that he or she will spend at least two years in the home country before coming back to the U.S. for a long term stay.