Maintaining J-1 Status

Exchange Visitors coming to SMU as a Research Scholar, Short-term Scholar or Professor must read the following information, in order to maintain their scholar status.

If you have any questions, please send an email to

You were granted a DS-2019 document based on a specific academic objective agreed upon between you and your host department. The Department of State requires that this objective be maintained throughout your stay in J-1 status. If you plan to change your objective in any way you must inquire with the ISSS office in order to ensure that the change is permitted. Please be advised that not being able to meet the program objective can lead to the termination of your immigration (SEVIS) record.

J-1/J-2 status holders must have the following documents valid throughout their stay in the U.S.:

  1. Valid passport-Must be valid for at least six months into the future
  2. I-94 must have a valid date of “D/S”.
  3. Valid Form DS-2019

Program Extensions

If your program will continue beyond your current DS-2019 end date, please work with your department to obtain a new appointment/invitation letter in order to apply for an extension, prior to the expiration of your document. 

All requests will be submitted via DocuSign. In order to submit an electronic request, you need to have the following information and PDF documents ready to submit. 

  • You must have your Faculty Advisor or Department Chair's full name and email address
  • If you are an employee receiving benefits, i.e. post doc positions, you must have the Human Resource's representative full name and email address.
  • A new invitation/appointment letter (PDF copy). 
  • Funding: If funded by your home institution or other organizations, a PDF copy of their continued financial support. 
  • Proof of Health Insurance (PDF copy of your insurance card or policy). Please note, you must have a policy that meets the requirements of the Department of State. 

*Exchange Visitors who have applied for and/or have been granted a waiver of the 212 (e) Two-Year Home Residency Requirement are not eligible for a program extension. Please consult the ISSS office.

For any questions regarding this process, please email for


J-1 Extension Program Application
Health Insurance Compliance Form

J-1/J-2 status holders are required by law to report any change of contact information (U.S. Residence Address, email, phone) within 10 days of the change.  Each time a scholar (and their dependents) moves, the residence change must be reported to the ISSS office so the change can be reported to the government. To report any changes, please email with the new information and include your SMU ID.

J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents are required to have medical insurance coverage with the following minimum benefits [22 CFR 62.14].

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.


Scholars and their dependents typically purchase health insurance while in their home country because they are required to have valid health insurance from the start and end date of their program with the university. For a list of U.S. health insurance providers that have plans that meet the minimum requirements, please see the Health Insurance Providers form.

If you will not be using a U.S. health insurance provider, please ensure that your health insurance plan meets the minimum requirements and that proof of health insurance clearly demonstrates that you are enrolled in a plan the has the requirements stated above. Proof of insurance that meets the Department of State requirements must be provided by the international scholar upon arrival to the U.S. to ensure compliance with Federal Regulations governing the J-1 Exchange Visitor program, along with the Health Insurance Compliance form.

Exchange Visitor Health Insurance Policy and Company Information
Exchange Visitor Health Insurance Verification Form (exchange visitors not receiving compensation from SMU) 
Exchange Visitor Health Insurance Verification Form (exchange visitors receiving benefits or SMU exchange students)


If your academic activity is taking place at a location other than the location on your DS-2019, or at multiple locations, you should notify the ISSS office so that we can add the additional Sites of Activity to your record. To add new or additional Sites of Activity, please email with the complete physical address.

When traveling you must have:

1. Current DS-2019 form

Before leaving the U.S. the most current DS-2019 will need to be endorsed for travel and re-entry by an Alternate/Responsible Officer. Travel Endorsement is located on page one of your DS-2019 and is valid for one calendar year, or until the completion of your program, whichever comes first. Travel Endorsement for short-term scholars is valid for six months, or until the end date of their program, whichever date comes first.

ISSS will have the endorsement ready within 3 business days, if there are no complications. However, we suggest you submit the request 2 weeks prior to travel in case a new DS-2019 is needed.

2. Valid Passport

For at least six months into the future at the time of re-entry.

3. Valid U.S. Visa stamp

There are some exceptions for students who are traveling to Canada or Mexico, for less than 30 days. Please see the Automatic Visa Revalidation form for more information.

If applying for a visa, it is RECOMMENDED to have:

Financial Support Documents—Financial support documents accurately reflect the amount on the DS-2019 form, and be less than six months old.

• Appointment Letter—Given to scholars by their hosting department prior to applying for their J-1 visa.

Please be sure to check consulate website for any additional requirements and for procedures

Travel Endorsement Request Form
Automatic Extension of Visa Validity



22 CFR 62.13(d)

Serious problem or controversy. Sponsors must inform the Department of State on or before the next business day by telephone (confirmed promptly in writing by facsimile or email) of any investigations of an exchange visitor's site of activity or serious problem or controversy that could be expected to bring the Department of State, the Exchange Visitor Program, or the sponsor's exchange visitor program into notoriety or disrepute, including any potential litigation related to a sponsor's exchange visitor program, in which the sponsor or an exchange visitor may be a named party. 


    Reporting Requirements

    The U.S. Department of State requires SMU to monitor the health, safety, and welfare of Exchange Visitors and their dependents. Below is a non-exhaustive list of examples of incidents to report: 


    • Exchange Visitor Death
    • Exchange Visitor Missing, Absconder, or Overstay (i.e., whereabouts unknown or intentionally left the program without notifying sponsorsSerious Behavioral Problems (e.g., substance abuse, bullying, or harassment)
    • Serious Medical Issues (e.g., cancer diagnosis, surgery, or any condition requiring hospitalization of 48 hours or more) 
    • Serious Mental Health Concerns (e.g., suicidal ideation or attempt, eating disorder, self-harm, psychiatric hold and/or hospitalization, or early program end due to mental health)
    • Sexually Related Incident or Abuse (e.g., incident or allegation involving sexual exploitation, harassment, assault, or misconduct)
    • Incident Involving the Criminal Justice System (e.g., arrest, charges, incarceration, detention, or other law enforcement involvement)
    • Incidents Involving Child Protective Services 
    • Fraud (e.g., visa, immigration, or financial fraud or scam
    • Theft of Intellectual Property or Violations of Import/Export Controls 
    • Lost or Stolen Immigration Documents (e.g., lost or stolen passport/visa or stolen Form DS-2019) 
    • Unsuitable Host/Work Conditions (e.g., incident or allegation involving workplace bullying, harassment, discrimination, hostile work environment, or work hours and/or wage-related issues)
    •  Actual or Potential Negative Press (i.e., incident expected to bring DOS, the sponsor, or the Exchange Visitor Program into notoriety or disrepute)
    • Foreign Government Involvement (including Foreign Embassy or Consulate Involvement)
    •  Litigation (Lawsuits) or Other Legal Actions (related to the Exchange Visitor Program, in which a sponsor, site of activity, or an exchange visitor may be a named party)
    • Public Security Incident or Natural Disasters Directly Involving Exchange Visitor Safety (e.g., bombing, shooting, other acts of violence, civil unrest, fire, tornado, flood, or hurricane)

    How to report an incident?

    J-1 or J-2 dependents should out the following reporting form to report an incident. All reporting should take place within one business day of the incident’s occurrence. 


    What’s next?

    An ISSS representative will be in touch with you after receiving the form.


    Please note: All SMU faculty and staff members are mandatory reporters, meaning they are required by law to report cases of sexual harassment to SMU's Title IX Coordinator.


Incident Reporting Form

Incident Reporting Resources 

J-1 Exchange Visitors who are required to spend an extended period of time outside of the U.S. as part of their program objective at SMU can request to have their J-1 program kept in ACTIVE status in SEVIS during the period outside of the U.S. An Out of Country report will be added to the J-1 Exchange Visitor’s record in SEVIS to notify the U.S. government of their absence from the U.S. The period of time spent outside the U.S. will continue to count towards the maximum regulatory duration of the J-1 Exchange Visitor’s program.

Instances that do not Require Out of Country Authorization

  • If a J-1 professor/research scholar is vacationing outside the U.S. for 30 days or less in agreement with the department, no permission from an A/RO is required.
  • If the J-1 professor/research scholar is an instructor and will be outside the U.S. during a term in which the department does not require the scholar to teach, but s/he will return the following term to resume teaching responsibilities (i.e. Summer sessions).
  • If the J-1 professor/research scholar is leaving the U.S. and will not be pursuing the J-1 program objective. In this case, the J-1 Scholar Notice of Departure form must be submitted, indicating ISSS should end the J-1 program.

Procedures for Approval

  • Scholar must submit the J-1 Scholar Out of Country Request Form and a letter from the supervisor detailing the reason for the continuation of program in another country to

J-1 Scholar Out of Country Request Form

J-1 Exchange Visitors sponsored by SMU are not allowed to work or receive any funds for reimbursement from any source outside of SMU without prior written approval by the ISSS office. J-1 Exchange Visitors in the Professor, Research Scholar and Short-Term Scholar categories are permitted to work as described on Form DS-2019 and may accept additional employment, if authorized by an Alternate/Responsible Officer. With this prior written authorization, a scholar may be compensated, paid, or reimbursed for occasional off-campus lectures, short-term consultations, or seminars.


The occasional lectures or short-term consultations must:

  1. Be directly related to the objectives of the exchange visitor's program;
  2. Be incidental to the exchange visitor's primary program activities;
  3. Not delay the completion date of the visitor's program; and
  4. Be documented in SEVIS and approved in writing.

Obtaining Approval Procedure

To obtain authorization to engage in occasional lectures or short-term consultations involving wages or other remuneration, the exchange visitor must:

1. Obtain a letter from the perspective employer setting forth the terms and conditions of the offer to lecture or consult, including the duration (start and end date), number of hours, field or subject, amount of compensation, and description of such activity

2. Initiate the Exchange Visitor Lectures and Consultations Request. This request will be routed to you, your supervisor at SMU, and then to ISSS for approval. This must be submitted to the ISSS office (including your Supervisors section) a minimum of 10 business days prior to the proposed start date of activity.

3. An Alternate/Responsible Officer will review the request and make a written determination whether such activity is warranted.

*Scholars participating in an occasional off-campus lecture, short-term consultations, or seminars must work as independent contractors.

Please notify the ISSS office if you will complete or withdraw from your academic program more than 15 days before the program End Date on your DS-2019.  You may also complete this form when you officially complete your program and return home. 

Notice of Departure

Once the End Date on the DS-2019, your J-1 status has ended and your SEVIS record will automatically expire.  However, you are allowed to remain in the U.S. for 30 days to take care of personal affairs and possibly traveling within the U.S. before departing from the U.S.  Please be aware that that during this 30-day grace period:

  • You are no longer eligible to engage in any employment or academic activities.
  • If you leave the U.S. (even to Mexico or Canada) for tourism, you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. in the J-1 status.
  • If you remain in the U.S. past the 30-day grace period, it is considered an “overstay”, which is a violation of your J-1 status.

Please be complete our Exit Survey to conclude your program at SMU.

Some J-1 exchange visitors may be subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement, if any of the conditions mentioned below apply. This means that J-1 scholars (and their J-2 dependents) will be required to return to their home country (or country of last residence) for two years at the end of their exchange visitor program. This requirement under immigration law is based on Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Government funded exchange program - The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the U.S. government or the government of the exchange visitor's nationality or last residence;

[Note: Students on a research assistantship or grants paid to the university are NOT considered to have received U.S. government funding.]

Graduate medical education or training - The exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training;

Specialized knowledge or skill: Skills List - The exchange visitor is a national or permanent resident of a country which has deemed the field of specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the country, as shown on the Exchange Visitor Skills List. Review the Exchange Visitor Skills List 2009.

An exchange visitor who falls into one of these groups will continue to be subject, even if funding or field of study changes. If the principal J-1 exchange visitor is subject to the two-year residence requirement, all dependents who enter the United States in J-2 status are subject to it as well.

Exchange visitors who are subject to the two-year home country residence requirement must "reside and be physically present" in their "home" country for an aggregate of two years before being eligible for certain immigration benefits. While they are subject to 212(e), foreign nationals are not eligible for the following benefits:

  1. They are not eligible for an immigrant visa or for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident (immigrant/green card) status;
  2. They are not eligible for an H visa (temporary workers and dependents), an L visa (intracompany transferees and dependents), or a K visa (fiancé and dependents);
  3. They are not eligible to change their nonimmigrant status within the United States to any other nonimmigrant category except A (diplomatic), G (international organization), or U (victims of qualifying criminal activity) statuses.

Apart from these specific restrictions, persons subject to 212(e) two-year home residency requirement 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.

Two Year Home Residency Requirement

The spirit of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is to foster a cultural and academic exchange between U.S. citizens and citizens from various countries around the world. Therefore, there are barriers or “bars” to prevent repeat participation of the J-1/J-2 program.

The 12- and 24-month bars are often mistaken for the 212 (e) two-year home residency requirement, which requires individuals to remain in their home country for two years before being eligible to change statuses to certain visa types.

12-Month Bar
The 12-month bar is applicable when an exchange visitor participates in a J-1/J-2 program under any category (except short-term scholar) for more than 6 months.

24-Month Bar
The 24-month bar is applicable when an exchange visitor completes a J-1/J-2 program under the Professor or Research Scholar category, regardless of length of program.

An exchange visitor may transfer from one program sponsor to another if the purpose of the transfer is to complete the objective for which he or she was admitted to exchange visitor status and if the exchange visitor remains within the same participant category.

J-1 scholars wanting to transfer to another U.S. institution should complete the Transfer OUT of SMU form and include a copy of your new appointment letter. Transfer out requests should be sent at least 7 business days prior to the Program End Date on Form DS-2019.