New J-1 Exchange Visitors

Maintaining status

All J-1 Exchange Visitors must report to ISSS upon their arrival at FIU. Exchange visitor scholars will enjoy the benefits of their status by complying with the immigration regulations governing this category.You and your dependents must have current passports at all times. An expired passport will mean you are out of status. If you as the J-1 are out of status, so are your J-2 dependents. You must always be in possession of a valid DS-2019, which accurately reflects your purpose for being at FIU. If it is close to expiring, you should request an extension from your host department.

You must come to ISSS to have your DS-2019 signed if you will travel outside the United States . Signatures are valid for 6 months.

You must also report any life event that may affect your immigration status such as birth of a child, marriage, change of legal name, divorce or death. This rule also extends to J-2 dependents.

You must report any change of address to ISSS within 5 days.

Reinstatement to legal status will rarely, if ever, be granted in the U.S. to scholars who lose their status. If you are out of status, you must return home with no guarantee of being issued a visa to return.

If you are working at FIU you will need a social security number. If you do not have a social security number, come to ISSS for further information.

Departure check out

When your program is finished you must check out at ISSS. ISSS is required to report your program end date to the federal government. This could be the end date on your DS-2019 or it could be a prior date if you complete your program early.30 Day Grace Period

Following the completion of the J-1 program, the period defined on the Form DS-2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) allows participants a 30-day travel period commonly referred to as the “Grace Period.” During this 30-day grace period, participants are no longer in J-visa status, and are under the jurisdiction of the USCIS. The USCIS grants this period to allow participants to settle their affairs and to prepare to return to their home countries. Program participants may no longer continue and/or complete exchange activities, nor may they work. Although participants may travel in the United States, it is recommended that they do not travel beyond the borders of the United States as they may not be permitted reentry.

Applying for a Social Security Number (SSN)

A Social Security number is a means of identification in the U.S.  If you are supposed to receive funding from a U.S. employer, such as FIU, then you must obtain a Social Security number. You MUST first complete the J-1 Scholar Check-in Form to verify that your immigration record gets validated before you can apply for the SSN.

To apply for a SSN, you must present the following documents in-person at a local Social Security Administration (SSA) office:

  • Completed Form SS-5 
  • At least 2 documents that establish your age and identity including a passport and one additional document establishing identity
  • Form DS-2019
  • Form I-94
  • Offer of employment or invitation letter from your FIU host department

Find the closest Social Security Office.

Visit the SSN Office and strat the process.

Although these are the basic instructions for this process, please stay in touch with your department/college coordinator in case they have further instructions.

It takes approximately between 2-4 weeks for SSA to issue the SSN. You should request a receipt at the time that you apply for the SSN. If you have applied for the Social Security number and have not received it a month after submitting the application to a Social Security Administration office, then you should go back to the Social Security Administration where you applied, inquire about the status of your application, and report what you were told about the status of your application to ISSS in case any follow-up is required.


Extension of stay

Request for extension must be made by your host department using the Extension Form for DS-2019 .Your program must be extended before the end date on your current DS-2019. If the end date lapses then no extension is possible and you must leave the United States. To ensure that this process runs smoothly, have your host department send ISSS any extension paperwork at least a month prior to the program end date. ISSS will then verify that you are eligible for an extension and process the paperwork.

J-1 scholars, students, and dependents (J-2s) are required to have major medical insurance (Health Care and Insurance) for the duration of the program.

Transfer to another J program

J-1 scholars who plan to transfer to another institution must inform ISSS of their intent to do so prior to transferring so that this can be properly noted in the SEVIS system. They need to download the form Transfer Out Form and complete it. Under the SEVIS system, the current J program and the transferring J program will work together to complete the transfer process. Your FIU department supervisor will be contacted to confirm that you have informed the department of your intent to transfer.

Travel and entry to the United States

In order to gain entry into the United States, you will need a passport and a visa. The passport is a legal document issued by your country of citizenship. This passport must be kept valid at all times. A United States visa is the stamp on a page of your passport that allows you entrance to the U.S. All participants in this program will need a J-l exchange visitor visa. If you wish to leave the country after your visa has expired, you must obtain a new visa in your country before you return to the United States. Your visa cannot be renewed while you are here. To obtain your new visa you must present your DS-2019 Form to the American embassy or consulate in your home country along with you funding documents and/or employment verification. Your copy of the DS-2019 form must be signed by the Director of International Student & Scholar Services (RO) before you leave the United States. Before you leave the United States permanently, you will need to get a sailing permit, or certificate of compliance. This document can be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is a statement of proof that you have paid your taxes and do not owe the United States government any money.

Home-country physical presence requirement

  • Some participants in the J-l exchange program may be subject to a two year home residency requirement (212-E). If you are subject to this requirement and you want to change your status or become a permanent resident of the United States , you must comply with the requirement or obtain a waiver prior to acquiring your new status. To satisfy the requirement, you must return to your home country for two years. Not all J-l visitors are subject to the two- year home residency requirement. However, if you fall under the following three categories, you are subject to this requirement:Your participation in the program was funded in whole or part, directly or indirectly, by a U.S. government agency or an agency of the government of your home country.
  • The skills developed as an exchange visitor are on the skills list of your country.
  • You are a foreign medical graduate.

NOTE: If your skill was listed after you came to the U.S. as a J-l exchange visitor, you may be exempt from the requirement.

Under certain circumstances you may be eligible to waive the two year home physical presence requirement. The four types of waivers are as follows:

  • No objection waiver
  • Exceptional hardship waiver
  • Persecution waiver
  • Interested government agency waiver

You may also consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable on the subject of J-1 waivers.

Please note that the waiver application is the exchange visitor’s responsibility. For more info, visit Travel.State.Gov.

Receiving a waiver recommendation from DoS may impact eligibility for certain benefits even before a waiver was granted:

  • According to DOS, when an RO/ARO is notified that DOS has sent a recommendation to DHS that a waiver of INA 212(e) be granted, "the exchange visitor is no longer considered eligible for an extension of program beyond the end date shown on the current Form DS-2019...even though he or she may not have completed the maximum duration of participation permitted for the category." All program sponsors, as well as the individual exchange visitor, receive a copy of the DOS waiver recommendation letter. DOS considers the receipt of this letter as the date beyond which no further DS-2019s may be issued for extension of stay.
  • If DOS denies the request for a waiver recommendation, extensions may be processed in the usual manner.
  • Under DOS regulations, an exchange visitor who has received a favorable recommendation for a waiver is not eligible for reinstatement to valid program status.
  • Eligibility for immigration benefits on the basis of the DOS waiver recommendation alone (i.e., after DOS issues a favorable waiver recommendation but before DHS grants the waiver) will vary, based on the benefit being sought. Please consult an immigration attorney for specifics.

J-2 Visa Holders and Work Authorization

J-2 visa-holders are authorized to work in the U.S. part time of full time in any field provided they  obtain an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Currently, EAD cards are taking up to 90 to 120 days to process.

Below are the instructions for J-2 holders if they want to apply for employment authorization. Please make sure you confirm all the information below by looking at the official form I-765. Some information may change without notice. The official details will ALWAYS be found on the original USCIS I-765 form and its instructions. FIU will not be liable for any change to these requirements.

  • Compose a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) requesting permission to work. See this sample letter.
  • Provide Proof of funding. This could be an offer letter for the J-1, bank letters and/or sponsorship letters.
  • Complete Form I-765
  • Make 2 sets of copies of the following documents for J-1 (principal) and J-2 (dependent)
    - Passport biographical page 

    - Passport page with J-1/ J-2 visa stamp, if available.
    - Form I-94 (front & back).
    - DS 2019 (all forms).
  • Have two (2) passport photos of yourself taken within 30 days prior to application. 
    For more information on photo, check in the form I-765 instructions (Please note that it is your
    responsibility for USCIS’ decision as to whether your photographs meet the I-765 specifications.).
  • A check or money order for $410 payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (staple to I-765) NOTE: U.S. Department of Homeland Security fees are subject to change, please use the fee indicated on the Form I-765 page.

Receiving your EAD Card

The Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be mailed to you to the address you stated in Form I-765.

 The EAD is the official approval for your employment. Make sure to check that all the personal information on the EAD is correct. It is estimated that it will take USCIS a minimum of 90 to 120 days to process this application.

You CANNOT begin employment UNTIL you have the EAD card from DHS. Working without
authorization is unauthorized employment, a deportable offense.

Other Useful Information


If you wish to receive an e-mail and/or a text message notification confirming that your application has been received byt USCIS, complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and add it to the first page of your application.

Notice of Receipt

A “notice of receipt” from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be sent to you in two to four weeks after you send your documents. With htis information, you will be able to monitor the progress of your applicaion on the DHS website 

Relocating to a Different Address

Please do not change your address with the US Postal Office while your application is pendingIf and until you get your work authorization. 


Please note that J-2 employment authorization expires at the same time as the DS2019. This means that if you wish to continue working after your DS2019 expires you must apply for renewal of your employment authorization at the time the extension of the DS2019 is processed. You can extend your work permit up until the end of your J-1 DS-2029.  This extension can take up to 90 days.