A Division of the International Studies Office

Prospective Visiting International Scholars

Prospective Visiting International Scholars

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program was established by the U.S. Government under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act in 1961. It is administered by the U.S. Department of State. The program is intended to promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange. The J-1 program provides foreign nationals opportunities to participate in programs in the United States with the expectation that on completion of their exchange program they will return home to share their experiences. A copy of the the Exchange Visitor Brochure provided by the U.S. Department of State is linked here:

Exchange Visitor Brochure

Participants approved to participate in the program will enter the U.S. as Exchange Visitors on a J-1 visa status.

J-1 Categories

The University of Virginia sponsors four non-student categories under the J-1 Exchange Visitor program:

  • Short-Term Scholar:  Objectives can be to lecture, observe, consult, train, or demonstrate special skills. Short-term scholars will come to the U.S. for a short visit and have no plans to continue beyond the 6-month limit. Visiting Short-term scholars may stay in the U.S. anywhere from 1 day to 6 months.
  • Professor:  The primary purpose is to teach, lecture, observe, or consult. The professor may also engage in research and participate in occasional lectures if authorized by the program sponsor. Visiting Professors may participate in the program for a minimum of 3 weeks and up to a total of 5 years, which includes transfers between exchange visitor programs.
  • Research Scholar:   This category is for an individual whose primary purpose is to perform research, observe, or consult in connection with a research project. Visiting Research Scholars may participate in the program for a minimum of 3 weeks and up to a total of 5 years, which includes transfers between exchange visitor programs. They may not change their objective in the U.S.  Research Scholars may also teach in addition to research.
  • Specialist:  This category is for individuals that have a specialized area of expertise and whose primary purpose is observing, consulting or demonstrating special knowledge or skills. The maximum period of stay is one year.

 Prior participation in a J program may affect your ability to participate in future J-1 programs. Contact our office directly with any questions you may have about this. 

Application Process

In order for the University of Virginia to issue the DS-2019 form that is required to obtain the J-1 visa status the department or school must request the form on the visitor’s behalf. The individual exchange visitor cannot request the form him or herself. The International Studies Office will only accept J-1 requests directly from sponsoring departments.   

Other Visa Categories 

Under certain circumstances foreign nationals wishing to visit UVA may be eligible to do so under the visa waiver program, on a B visa, or as Canadian or other types of visa-exempt visitors. Most visitors, particularly those with a formal relationship to UVA will be required to enter the U.S. with a sponsored visa status.  It is critical both from an immigration as well as a UVA liability perspective to discuss your plans and objectives with your hosting department before making your arrangements to come on any non-sponsored visa status.