A Division of the International Studies Office

J-1 Introduction and Eligibility

J-1 Introduction and Eligibility

Departments may sponsor international students and scholars to come to the University of Virginia in J-1 status to engage in a program of teaching, research, observation, or consultation. The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State for the purpose of fostering educational and cultural exchange. At the time of appointment, the expectation is that the Exchange Visitor will return home upon completion of the activity. In sponsoring exchange visitors, the University agrees to abide by all regulations governing the administration of the program. Please check with the ISO before inviting an international visitor to engage in any activities at UVA. To begin a J-1 sponsorship request, please read through the information on this website to understand the eligibility and documentation requirements. Departments and units must have identified a contact person to access the request process. If you don't know who the contact person is for your department, please contact the International Studies Office. To begin a request click here: ISSP Connect

Because J-1 status is a sponsored status, exchange visitors cannot apply for this status without sponsorship from the department in which he or she plans to engage in his or her program activities.   

Some participants may also be subject to the 2-year home residency requirement upon completion of their program. This requirement only affects those participants interested in obtaining an H1-B employment-based visa status or permanent residency (green card) in the U.S.

Visiting Research Scholar or Professor

Academic departments may invite visiting scholars to engage in research and/or teach. The department must identify a departmental faculty host to serve as the supervisor for the Exchange Visitor.  


1. Non-tenure track positions.  The J-1 status assumes non-immigrant intent and is not appropriate for any scholar who the department may wish to employ in the long term. For long-term appointments the H1-B status may be more appropriate, and departments should contact Immigration Services in Human Resources. In addition, if a visiting scholar has recently previously visited the US with J-1 status they may be subject to a bar on repeat participation in the program.

2. Minimum degree equivalent to a Bachelors in the appropriate field of study. Appointments can be paid through the University or sponsored with other or personal funds.  

3. Foreign medical graduates sponsored by UVa may only participate in non-clinical programs where patient contact is incidental to their primary activity of teaching, research, consultation, or observation.

4. English language proficiency - Visiting scholars must demonstrate a level of English proficiency that will enable them to fully participate in their program and to function in the U.S. on a day-to-day basis. The U.S. government requires an objective measure of proficiency specified as follows:

  1. A recognized English language test. Examples of approved recognized language exams include TOEFL, IELTS or IBD. Exam results should be no more than 2 years old. UVA does not accept the Chinese CET as a recognized English language proficiency test.
  2. Signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school.
  3. A degree earned from a U.S. college or university or from an institution whose language of instruction is in English. A copy of the diploma or transcript will fulfill this requirement.
  4. Native English speaker.
  5. A documented interview conducted by the sponsor either in-person or by videoconferencing, or by telephone if videoconferencing is not a viable option. The supervising faculty can conduct the interview but should ensure that the prospective Exchange Visitor is proficient enough in listening and speaking to function on a day-to-day basis in the community. If the supervising faculty is not comfortable making this assessment, faculty in the Center for American English Language and Culture can assist. You must maintain a record of the date of the phone or videoconference interview, name of interviewer, topics addressed during the interview, and length. Interview attestation must be attached to the J-1 request form.

The maximum duration of participation in this category is 5 years. Exchange visitors with a program duration of 6 months or less may be categorized as “short term” with no possibility of extension beyond 6 months. The advantage to classifying a visiting scholar in the Short-Term scholar category is if there is an expectation or possibility that the scholar may want to return on another J-1 program within 2 years. The Research Scholar category has a bar on repeat participation in the J-1 program that the Short-Term Scholar category does not have.

Visiting Graduate Students

Visiting graduate students sponsored under the J-1 program as Research Scholars must meet the minimum requirements for a faculty appointment under University and individual school/college faculty appointment policy. In most cases policy states faculty appointments require a minimum equivalent of a Master's degree. 

Academic departments may enroll visiting graduate students as non-degree students to come to UVA to conduct research or work in a capacity related to their degree program. These students should be enrolled as visiting graduate students through the academic department and pay all required fees.