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The J visa program is an Exchange Visitor Program with objectives of public diplomacy and mutual educational and cultural exchange. The University of Wyoming currently sponsors J-1 Exchange Visitors in the Student, Professor, Research Scholar, Short-Term Scholar and Student Intern categories. The J Exchange Visitor Program is a non-immigrant program, meaning the visitor maintains ties to his/her home country and expects to return there upon completion of the exchange in the United States. A Form DS-2019 must be issued by UW before you can apply for your J-1 visa.
*Students wanting to study abroad, or on an exchange program at UW, should contact the study abroad office at their home institution. Students wanting to pursue a degree program at UW should find more information on the UW International Student Admissions page.
*Departments who would like to bring a J-1 Exchange Visitor to UW can find visa program information and the DS-2019 Request Form and process on the Inviting a Research Scholar, Short-Term Scholar, Professor webpage.
Exchange visitors are invited to read the International Students/Scholars Handbook for information about Laramie, UW, US culture and customs, local schools, healthcare, and US classroom culture.
If you would like to come to UW as a Visiting Scholar or Student Intern, you must first contact an academic department or faculty member to sponsor your visit.
If you have already been in contact with a faculty member or department at UW regarding your visit, please ask them to complete the DS-2019 Request Form and submit it to ISS. The faculty member or department can find information about this process at Bringing a Visiting Scholar or Intern to UW.
If you have not already contacted a faculty member or department to sponsor your visit, you should use the UW A-Z Directory to find the college or department you are interested in visiting. Use the email or phone number provided for each department to contact them to ask about sponsorship. Once a faculty member agrees to sponsor your visit to UW, they should review Bringing a Visiting Scholar or Intern to UW for information about the process.
Once you have received an invitation from a faculty member or department, they will ask you to provide information for the DS-2019 Request Form. Once that form is completed, it will be submitted to UW International Students and Scholars so that the Form DS-2019 can be issued. The faculty member or department will ship the Form DS-2019 and other important information to you when it is ready. At that time, you can proceed with your J-1 visa application at the US consulate.
Once you have received your Form DS-2019 and other materials from UW, you must apply for a J-1 visa at the US consulate. More info
It is recommended that you allow ample time to obtain the J-1 visa foil from the U.S. embassy or consulate. The U.S. Department of State has indicated that the process of issuing visas to some individuals might be considerably delayed due to security clearances. Please note: Receipt of the Form DS-2019 from UW does not guarantee that you will receive a visa foil from a U.S. consulate.
Do not make travel reservations until you have obtained your visa. Individual consulate/embassy visa processing times may be found on the State Department Web at: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/wait-times.html.
To Apply for Your J-1 Visa:
1. Pay I-901 SEVIS Fee - J-1 visa applicants are required to pay a SEVIS fee which is used to support the SEVIS program. The fee must be paid prior to applying for your visa. A receipt of payment must be shown at the time of the visa application. The fee may be paid online at the I-901 Fee Page.
2. Complete the DS-160 visa application online - You will complete the DS-160 visa application and pay the application fee online at the Consular Electronic Application Center website. You are required to upload your official photo with your DS-160 application. View official Photograph Requirements before uploading your photo. Read more about the visa application at DS-160: Frequently Asked Questions.
3. Schedule Your Interview - You should schedule your interview at the US embassy or consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at another US embassy or sonsulate, but be aware that it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of the country where you live. Select your embassy or consulate from the US Department of State US Embassy and Consulate list.
4. Attend Your Interview at the Consulate - The visa application requires a Form DS-2019 amd other documents. Consult the US embassy or consulate website for specific documents/proof requirements. Generally, you will be required to show your Form DS-2019, receipt for I-901 SEVIS fee payment, Form DS-160 (visa application) confirmation page, and application fee payment receipt. You may also be asked to show an invitation letter from yoursponsoring faculty or department, ability to pay all costs while in the US (financial support as sumitted to UW for DS-2019 issuance if not paid by UW), marriage certificate if bringing a spouse with you, and proof of intent to return to your home country after your visit to the US. You may also be asked if you have worked, studies, or resided in the United States previously.
Canadian Citizens—Canadian citizens do not need a J-1 visa foil in their passport, but rather may obtain their visa status when they enter the United States by showing proof of citizenship, the UW Form DS-2019, proof of financial support, and proof of payment of the I-901 SEVIS fee. Canadian citizens do NOT need to make an appointment at the US embassy or consulate.
Once you have arrived in the US, you will be required to present your documents for admission. When you arrive in Laramie, you are required to check in with the ISS staff right away.
Please confirm your travel arrangements with your department. If you will be delayed, you must email your department and the ISS office right away! Significant delays may require your Form DS-2019 to be updated and a new form sent to you before you can enter the US.
Entering the United States
A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. A visa only allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port of entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States.
*Please note: J visa-holders cannot enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the start date located in box 3 on the Form DS-2019.
After you present your passport, visa, and DS-2019 at the port-of-entry, a CBP official will make this decision. Once you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp in your passport or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Please review the passport stamp to make sure it indicates that you are here in J-1 status valid until “D/S”. If this information if not correctly written on the entry stamp, please politely ask the officer to review and correct it. This is very important!
Travel to Laramie, WY, home of the University of Wyoming
The closest international airport to Laramie, WY is Denver International Airport (DIA) in Denver,
Colorado. You should first fly to DIA and then make your way to Laramie. From DIA, there are two recommended ways to get to Laramie:
You can fly directly into the Laramie Regional Airport. The airport is serviced by Skywest which is a United Airlines carrier connecting flights to Laramie from Denver daily. If you need shuttle service from the Laramie Regional Airport into town, you must call a taxi upon arrival. Taxi services are VERY limited in Laramie and the taxi service is not always available. You may also make arrangements with your department or faculty sponsor to pick you up from the Laramie airport. DIA is a two hours’ drive from Laramie, so it is not recommended that you ask for a ride from DIA.
The Groome DIA airport shuttle also provides regular shuttle service from Denver International Airport to Laramie. Rates are approximately $80. Groome Transportation can deliver you right to the UW campus, or to a local hotel.
Checking in with the International Students and Scholars Office
ALL J-1 Exchange Visitors MUST check in with the ISS staff right away upon arrival in Laramie. The ISS staff will make copies of your documents (passport, visa, and DS-2019) for our files and will provide you with important information about your visit to our campus. We will also collect important information that we need to notify the US Department of State that you have arrived safely, and on time, at UW. Failure to check in with ISS upon arrival may result in automatic termination of your status in the US, requiring you to leave the US immediately.
All J-1 Exchange Visitors have responsibilities and requirements in order to maintain their immigration status while in the US. These include providing ISS with information updates and maintaining medical/health insurance for the duration of your stay.
Medical/Health Insurance is Required
Individuals on the J-1 visa, including spouse/dependents, are REQUIRED BY LAW to have health insurance that meets federally mandated guidelines. The minimum coverage that is required by U.S. Department of State and UW includes:
a.) Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per person, per accident or illness
b.) At least $25,000 for repatriation of remains
c.) $50,000 minimum for expenses associated with medical evacuation
d.) A policy secured to fulfill the insurance requirements shall not have a deductible that exceeds $500 per accident or illness, and must meet other standards specified in the regulations.
The regulations also state that "willful non-compliance to the regulation will result
in termination of the exchange visitor's program". UW has such a policy and it is
available to international researchers/scholars, and their families, who are not employed
in a benefited position by UW. To purchase such policy from UW, visitors should contact
the Student Insurance Advocate in Knight Hall, Room 248, by phone at (307) 766-3025,
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individuals who are employed by UW in a “benefited” position may be eligible for the UW employee health insurance. Please note, however, this insurance does not provide for the Medical Evacuation or Repatriation as required above. This must be purchased in addition to the UW employee insurance. Further, these individuals must choose the lowest possible deductible as it must be $500 or lower. For more information about this please contact the UW Benefits Office in Human Resources, Wyoming Hall.
Exchange visitors who want to purchase medical/health insurance outside of UW can access this non-exhaustive list of medical/health insurance companies. UW does not endorse any specific company. This list is provided only to assist visitors in looking for a possible insurance company.
Provide Information Updates to ISS
All J-1 exchange visitors are required to provide updates to their information to ISS so that their immigration record can be updated. Notify ISS within 10 days after any change to your:
You can update ISS by emailing email@example.com or coming to the ISS office to fill out a paper form.
Only those exchange visitors who are employed in the US, being paid by UW, are eligible to apply for a social security number.
A social security number is required for anyone that is employed in the US. Exchange visitors will need to travel to Cheyenne, WY and apply in person. ISS does schedule two bus trips per year to take students and scholars to the SSA office in Cheyenne to apply. These trips usually happen in early October and early March. ISS will send emails to the visitors and departments about these trips with information about signing up. Exchange visitors can also go on their own to apply in person. There is no public transportation to Cheyenne, so visitors may need to ask a friend or colleague to drive them to Cheyenne to apply.
1. Get an employer letter from the department/employer on department letterhead. On-campus employers must use the SSN Employer Letter template. Letter must be written by the department.
2. Complete the Social Security Application, Form SS-5 and print it out. This is NOT an online application.
3. Bring the employer letter and completed Social Security Application to ISS so that ISS staff can confirm information and write an additional supporting letter.
4. After the exchange visitor receives their documents back from ISS, they may go to the SSA office in Cheyenne to apply for the SSN. Documents to take: department employment letter, completed application form, letter from ISS, official passport, visa, I-94 printout, and Form DS-2019. The SSA staff will not accept the application without all of these documents.
The Social Security Administration office address in Cheyenne, Wyoming is 3001 E. Pershing Boulevard, Suite 140, Cheyenne, WY 82001. Their hours are: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Wednesday: 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. No appointment is needed.
Current exchange visitors who are already in the US and would like to have their spouse or children join them while at UW may request a Form DS-2019 for J-2 Dependents.
Spouse or child dependents of current J-1 exchange visitors will need to apply for a J-2 dependent visa at a US embassy or consulate before coming to the US. The exchange visitor should request a Form DS-2019 from ISS by completing and submitting the Dependent Invitation Request to ISS, along with a copy of each dependent’s passport ID page and additional financial support if necessary. Visitors must demonstrate additional financial support of at least $500 per month for the first dependent and an additional $325 per month for each additional dependent. All J visa holders, including J-2 dependents are required to have medical/health insurance that meets the federal minimum requirements. These costs are in addition to the minimum amount of funding required per month.
Exchange visitors on the J-2 dependent visa are allowed to study in the US without additional permission or documentation from ISS, but they must meet all admission requirements for the institution at which they will study. J-2 visa holders may apply for permission to work in the US during their stay. The approval process can take up to 90 days and requires a $410.00 application fee. J-2 visa holders may NOT work anywhere, on or off campus, until the Employment Authorization Document is received from USCIS. Please refer to the section “Applying for J-2 Work Authorization” below for more information and application process.
J-2 dependent visa holders may apply to USCIS for work authorization. This authorization is valid ONLY while the J-1 is maintaining status in the US, and for one year at a time.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations state that “J-2 employment may be authorized for the duration of the J-1 principal alien’s authorized stay as indicated on Form I-94 or a period of four years, whichever is shorter. The employment authorization is valid only if the J-1 is maintaining status.” USCIS will issue the Employment Authorization Document for one (1) year at a time. A new application and fee is required to renew the work authorization each year. Applicants should apply early to avoid a gap in work authorization between a previous authorization end date and the approval of the new authorization. The regulations also state that, “Income from the spouse's or dependent's employment may be used to support the family's customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Employment will not be authorized if this income is needed to support the J-1 principal alien.”
ISS staff will help submit the application for employment authorization. Make an appointment with ISS staff after all of the following forms are completed and documents collected:
2. Form G-1145
3. Application fee of $410.00 - Check or money order payable to “US Department of Homeland Security”
4. Two (2) passport-style photos taken no more than 30 days before filing the form. These can be obtained at the UW WyoOne ID Office on campus or off campus at WalMart, FedEx Kinkos, or the UPS Store.
5. Copy of the current DS-2019, passport ID page, and visa foil for both the J-1 and the J-2
6. I-94 printout for both J-1 and J-2
7. Letter from J-2 stating why the employment is desired. While the letter does not need to demonstrate financial need to receive the employment authorization, it should indicate the source and amount of support for the J-1 Exchange Visitor and specifically state that the income derived from the employment will not be used for the support of J-1 Exchange Visitor. See the J-2 Applicant Sample Letter for guidance on writing the letter.
8. Copy of any previous Employment Authorization Documents or Change of Status documentation.
ISS will submit all of the above to the Service Center, along with a supporting letter from ISS staff. Adjudication of the application can take up to 90 days, but may take less. J-2 visa holders may NOT begin employment until the EAD is received and the start date on the card is reached. The employment authorization is only valid if the J-1 exchange visitor is maintaining status in the US.
Note: J-2 dependents are subject to federal income taxes, and state income taxes, if the state has income taxes, because the employment services were not performed “to carry out a purpose for which the individual was admitted.” See IRS publication 519, United States Tax Guide for Aliens. J-2 visa holders can also contact the UW Tax Accountant at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-766-2821 for questions or assistance. J-2 visa holders who begin work at UW must contact the UW Tax Accountant to set up their UW tax withholding information within one month of their employment start date. They must also apply for a US social security number after the Employment Authorization Document is received. See the section “Applying for US Social Security Number” above for the application process.
If an exchange visitor or their dependents will travel outside of the US for a short period, they must bring their Form DS-2019s to the ISS office to be authorized for travel BEFORE leaving the US.
This travel signature is required for re-admission to the US. Failure to get a travel signature may result in rejection at the US border upon return. The travel signature is valid for six months or one year, depending on the J-1 visa category of the exchange visitor. Visitors should always notify ISS of any planned travel outside of the US and check to make sure that their documents are properly signed.
After each trip outside of the US, the exchange visitor (and dependents) should print their updated I-94 and bring it to ISS along with their passport so that updated copies can be put in their file. Exchange visitors can also scan and email these documents to email@example.com in place of bringing them to the ISS office.
If an exchange visitor would like to extend their appointment at UW, they must formally request an extension BEFORE the end date on the Form DS-2019.
An exchange visitor must have the support of their sponsoring faculty or department to stay longer than the original end date in Box 3 of the Form DS-2019. They must formally request an extension BEFORE the end date on the Form DS-2019. This formal request includes a form signed by the exchange visitor confirming that they have maintained, and will continue to maintain, medical/health insurance during their extended stay. The J-1 Extension Form must be accompanied by proof of financial support if other than pay from UW, and an extension request letter from the sponsoring faculty member. These documents should be submitted in person, or emailed, to the ISS office at least ONE WEEK before the end date printed on the Form DS-2019.
Note: There are limitations on length of stay for each J-1 visa category. The Form DS-2019 cannot be extended past the allowed total length of stay. Short-term Scholars may be in the US for no more than six (6) months at a time. Professors and Research Scholars may be in the US for no more than five (5) years at a time. Student Interns may be in the US for no more than twelve (12) months at a time.
Certain categories of the J-1 visa have restrictions on returning to the US based on objective or time since last departure. Exchange visitors may also be subject to the 212(e) Home Resident Rule.
Restrictions on Repeat Participation and Tenure
In addition to the general eligibility rules, participation in the Professor or Research Scholar categories is subject to the following additional conditions unique to participation in those categories:
INA 212(e) Two-Year Home Residence Rule
Exchange visitors who are subject to the two-year home country residence requirement cannot change their status to most other nonimmigrant classifications within the US, are not eligible for an immigrant visa (like H-1B or L) or for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident (immigrant/green card) status until they have lived and been physically present in their "home" country for an aggregate of two years following their departure from the US. Apart from these specific restrictions, persons subject to 212(e) are treated as are all other exchange visitors, i.e., they remain eligible for program transfers and extension of their J status up to the limits of time for their particular category, etc.
The following subjects an individual and his/her dependents to the Two Year home country physical presence requirement:
The 212(e) notation will usually be printed on the J-1 visa foil in the passport by the US embassy or consulate, and may be noted on the Form DS-2019 by the consular officer at the visa interview. Lack of 212(e) being printed on the visa foil or noted on the From DS-2019 does not mean that the exchange visitor is not subject to the rule. Visitors may ask the consular office if they are concerned about this rule.