International Scholar Relations

Overview for Faculty

Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there also is love of humanity.   ~ Hippocrates ~


Federal regulations affecting nonimmigrant employment in the United States are complex and because of the frequent changes in these regulations these pages are considered “a living document” requiring ongoing updates.

The information provided here will provide basic information about immigration classifications and procedures and discuss in some detail the roles and responsibilities of the host department and is meant to advise departments, not serve as a substitute for individual consultation.

We urge you to consult International Scholar Relations J1Program@westernu.edu prior to making any offer for a J-1 scholar to come to WesternU.

Please note that it typically takes anywhere from two to four months from the time a potential exchange visitor is identified to when they actually arrive on our campus.  Please review the following flowchart and process overview as a guide to the sequential steps necessary before an exchange visitor can actually obtain a visa for work at WesternU:

ISR Process Flowchart   We have created a flow chart that graphically portrays all of the steps necessary after you identify a potential scholar to actually welcoming them to our campus.  Please note that all of the green colored boxes are steps that the sponsoring college/department must take; the white boxes reflect ISR tasks; and the blue boxes reflect those tasks that are assigned to the exchange visitor.

ISR Process Overview  This document is similar to the flowchart but is organized a bit differently.

Exchange Visitor Invitation Checklist  This document is designed to organize the process for you as you work through the details for your potential exchange visitor


International Scholar Program

The J-1 International Scholar Program is administered by the Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation, in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State. The J-1 Program at WesternU is overseen by the Office of Human Resources.

J-1 Visa Status/Purpose

Those who enter the United States with a J-1 or J-2 (family members) visa are called International Scholars. The J-1 Visa may be used by those coming to the U.S. to study, teach, conduct research, or receive training. The purpose of the J-1 Visa Program is to provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the U.S. and return home to share their experiences, and to encourage scholars to participate in educational and cultural programs in other countries. WesternU, as a J-1 sponsor, must make a good faith effort to achieve the fullest possible reciprocity in the exchange of persons. The term reciprocity is interpreted broadly and does not require a one-for-one exchange of persons or activities.

The J-1 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa, and participants in the J-1 International Scholar Program are expected to return to their home countries when they complete their programs. Entry into the United States as a participant in the International Scholar Program is granted with the understanding that participants will complete the objectives of a single program categoryJ-1 scholars may not enroll in a degree-seeking program while on the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa.

WesternU is not approved for the J-1 student visa at this time!

Exchange Visitor Eligibility

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is very specific with regard to the requirements, which must be met by applicants to qualify for the exchange visitor (J) visa, not to be confused with the J-1 student visa. The consular officer will determine whether the individual qualifies for the visa. Applicants must demonstrate that they properly meet the requirements to be issued an exchange visitor visa, including the following:

  • They can provide evidence of funds to cover expenses in the United States as follows:  A minimum of $2000 per month for non-academic expenses (housing, transportation, insurance, WesternU parking $470 annual fee, etc.). In addition, $500 for spouse and $250 for each dependent should be allowed per month;

  • They plan to remain in the U.S. for a temporary, specific, limited period of time;

  • They can provide evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad; and other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.

  • Mandatory Health Insurance:  J-1 Visa holders are required to have medical insurance in effect for themselves and any accompanying spouse and/or dependents for the duration of their programs at WesternU.  The Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security regulations specify a minimum level of coverage.  Contact the ISR Office for details.
  • English Language Proficiency: The exchange visitor must possess sufficient proficiency in the English language to successfully participate in his or her program and to function on a day-to-day basis.  Documentation must be provided to ISR for all exchange visitors of English language proficiency.  It will be the responsibility of the sponsoring college or department to provide remedial services to scholars who arrive with insufficient language proficiency to successfully function in day-to-day life.  The preferred method for assessing language proficiency is a panel interview via Skype or phone, completing the English Proficiency Questionnaire and submitting it to ISR.

Professor and Research scholar programs are subject to the following conditions:

  • Must not be a candidate for a tenure track position;

  • Cannot have participated in and completed a professor or research scholar program within the 24 months preceding the beginning date of their new program’s commencement. 

  • Cannot have participated in a J visa program (including J-2 dependents) for all, or part of the 12 month period immediately preceding the date of the new program’s commencement, unless they meet one of the following exceptions:

    The participant is currently in a professor or research scholar program and is transferring to another institution in the United States to continue their current J-1 program;

    The participant’s prior physical presence in the U.S. on a J visa program was less than 6 months in duration.

    The participant was as a short-term scholar

 Exchange Program Duration

The minimum duration of any exchange program is three weeks, except for participants in the Short Term Scholar category with no minimum. The maximum duration varies by category. See “J-1 Catagories” for a detailed description for each category.

International Scholar Selection

Research scholars, professors, short-term scholars and specialists, hereinafter, referred to as International Scholars, may be invited to WesternU only if they have the appropriate academic credentials and will participate in activity that furthers interchange, mutual enrichment, and linkages between ongoing research at WesternU  and educational institutions of other countries.

One of the important characteristics of the J-1 International Scholar program is its temporary nature, which means the International Scholar’s appointment to a position at WesternU must be temporary, even if the position itself is permanent. The International Scholar cannot be a candidate for a tenure-accruing position. Of course, the candidate’s background and field of expertise should also be relevant to the proposed activities at WesternU.

In all cases, the international visitor must have a faculty sponsor who is willing to take responsibility for hosting the visit.

Individuals who join the University in J-1 status are not eligible for study in a degree-seeking program at WesternU.

It is the responsibility of the nominating College’s department faculty to make four primary determinations prior to extending an invitation to a foreign national:

  • the program is suitable to the International Scholar’s background, needs and experience;

  • the International Scholar has the appropriate academic and professional credentials to perform the activity to be pursued;

  • the International Scholar possesses sufficient proficiency in the English language to participate in the program;

  • the International Scholar will have adequate financial support, either from WesternU or other sources, to live an adequate lifestyle in the local community.

The International Scholar’s proposed activity is permitted by the regulations. The inviting college/ department will need to provide documentation in support of these determinations by submitting a Departmental Request DS-2019. The Department of State (DOS) uses the DS-2019 Form to collect and maintain information about J-1 International Scholars throughout the USA. The J-1 RO must log into the SEVIS web site to generate the DS-2019 which will then be sent via FedEx to the International Scholar.

Advantages/Limitations of J-1 Visa

A J-1 International Scholar is an individual primarily conducting research, observing research, or consulting with researchers in connection to a research project. The research scholar can also teach or lecture unless disallowed by the program sponsor.

Benefits to the J-1 classification include:

  • Quick processing (J-1 RO can usually issue the J-1 document within 10 days of receipt of a completed application portfolio)

  • J-2 dependents can apply for work permission from the immigration service

Limitations of the J-1 classification include:

  • Limit on the amount of time in the category and limits on repeat participation

Important Note for Repeat Visitors

Individuals who participate in the J-1 Program in the Research Scholars or Professors categories are subject to a 24-month bar between program participation. This means that an individual who has completed a program in Professor or Research Scholar Status cannot return to the US as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar until they have been outside the US for 24 months. Individuals who have been in the US in ANY “J” category, including J-1 Student and J-2 dependent are subject to a 12 month bar for subsequent participation as a Research Scholar or Professor.

For additional information regarding temporary visa types, please visit: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english.html

If Your Scholar will be a WesternU Employee

If the prospective scholar will be an employee of the University, the inviting college must first submit a position request to the Office of Human Resources via the  People Admin system, confirming College approval and funding before submitting the J-1 documentation to International Scholar Relations (ISR).


Updated 8/2015