J-1 Scholars

If you are interested in more information for this specific immigration status or living in the U.S., please visit OIS Fact Sheets.


The J-1 visa classification is part of the US Department of State’s (DOS) Exchange Visitor Program (EVP). For more information about the J-1 program review U.S Department of State's website. This program includes sixteen different categories of Exchange Visitors. In addition to enrolling international students in the J-1 student category, the University of Pittsburgh is also authorized to use the following three categories for “scholars”:

  • Professor
  • Research Scholar
  • Short-Term Scholar

J-1 scholars at Pitt typically have academic appointments as visiting faculty, postdoctoral fellows/associates, research associates, and other temporary academic appointments. J-1 visa classification cannot be used for tenured/tenure-stream appointments. A comparison chart of J-1 categories and OIS fee matrix are available to help departments choose which category to use to when bringing in an exchange visitor.

Eligibility Criteria

Professor is defined as “an individual primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting at post-secondary accredited educational intuitions, museums, libraries, or similar types of institutions”. A professor may also conduct research. Research Scholar is defined as “an individual primarily conducting, research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project at research institutions, corporate research facilities, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions, or similar types of institutions”. A research scholar may also teach or lecture. Short-Term Scholar is defined as “a professor, research scholar, specialist or person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the United States on a short-term visit (6 months or less) for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited education institutions, or similar types of institutions.” All J-1 visitors in these categories must have at least a bachelor’s degree with appropriate experience in the field of teaching or research.

How to Apply


The J-1 Scholar request will be initiated by the Department at Pitt wishing to invite the visitor. This request should be initiated through My OIS a minimum of 30 days before the intended program start date. The Department will need to contact the scholar to request a copy of their CV and financial documentation (if needed). Please email OIS@pitt.edu with any questions about how to log in and submit a J-1 request through My OIS.


A scholar acquires J-1 status using Form DS-2019, issued by a DHS/DOS - approved school through SEVIS. Status is acquired in one of two ways: 1) if the scholar is abroad, by entering the United States with the DS-2019 and a J-1 visa obtained at a US consulate (although citizens of some countries are exempt from the visa requirement); or 2) if the scholar is already in the United States, by sending the DS-2019 to USCIS with an application for change of nonimmigrant status. For information about obtaining a visa and traveling to the U.S. please review our Travel Information.

Maintaining Legal Status

As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you must meet certain obligations in order to maintain legal immigration status. Maintaining status is necessary in order to receive the benefits of J-1 status such as employment or a program extension. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can result in serious problems with immigration and could lead to deportation from the U.S. Due to the complexity of U.S. immigration regulations, we recommend that you consult with an Immigration Specialist in the Office of International Services anytime you have questions or concerns related to your J-1 status. To maintain legal J-1 status, a J-1 scholar or professor must:

  • Check-in with the Office of International Services within 30 days of the start date of your program.
  • Have a valid passport. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future on the day you return from your trip abroad, unless your country is a part of the "6-month club"
  • Have a valid DS-2019 which must be accurate at all times.
  • Have a valid I-94 record
  • Have a valid U.S. visa stamp in order to re-enter the country
  • A valid travel signature is required for re-entry into the U.S. and the signature is valid for one year.
  • Update your address information within 10 days of moving
  • Conduct employment only as indicated on the DS-2019. NOTE: Departments must contact the Office of International Services if they would like the exchange visitor to engage in collaborative work outside of University of Pittsburgh or if the exchange visitor wishes to participate in occasional lectures at another institution.
  • File timely and appropriate transfer and extension notification to the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) through the sponsoring agency. This must be done before the end date of your current DS-2019.
  • Maintain required health insurance coverage (see below).
  • Complete a departure notification if you leave more than 30 days before your program end date.

Health Insurance

J-1 (primary) and J-2 (dependents) visa holders are required by their visa status to maintain medical health insurance coverage at all times during their exchange visit. The minimum basic coverage is:

  • 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; and
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

In some cases, your financial sponsor may arrange for medical insurance coverage, ensuring it meets with the regulatory guidance above. In all other cases, the J-1 primary visa holder is responsible to arrange for suitable medical insurance coverage for him-/herself and any J-2 dependents. While the University of Pittsburgh does not specifically endorse any other health plans, we have included several companies in our Resources listing on this website. Failure to maintain adequate medical health insurance coverage will lead to termination of J visa status and departure from the United States.

Employment Options for J-1 Scholars

In addition to employment at the University of Pittsburgh, J-1 visiting scholars and professors are only eligible to be authorized for incidental employment, such as providing occasional lectures or consulting. Incidental employment must be approved by the University of Pittsburgh prior to the activity. For more information, refer to Incidental Employment for J-1 Visiting Scholars and Professors.

Grace Period

When a J-1 exchange visitor completed his or her program, a 30-day grace period begins. During these 30 days he/she may remain in the U.S. and prepare to leave. It is not permissible to work during the grace period. Nor may one exit the U.S. and reenter as a J-1 during the grace period.

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