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Immigration Services

J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa

DS-2019 (J-1) Exchange Visitor Visa Procedure
Medical University of South Carolina

Immigration Services
MUSC Wellness Center
MSC 175
Suite SS 455
Charleston, SC 29425
FAX: 792-6105

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program at MUSC

POLICIES

GENERAL INFORMATION 
                          
The Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Exchange Program which designates MUSC to sponsor scholars in this visa category for academic level research and teaching.  The J-1 is the most frequently used visa classification for international academic visitors.  Other organizations, such as international or educational programs or foundations, may also act as visa sponsors.  The sponsor provides Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor J-1 Status) to the applicant.  The applicant must then present it to an American Consulate to obtain a J-1 entry visa stamp.  Transfer of J-1 sponsorship from another institution to MUSC can usually be done quickly.  All J-1 scholars must be sponsored by a department.
        
LENGTH OF STAY

“Research Scholar” is the most commonly used J-1 category for MUSC scholars. The maximum stay in the United States for scholars in J-1 visa status in the “Research Scholar” or “Professor” category is five years.  The maximum stay for “Short Term Scholar” is six months.
                          
FINANCIAL MINIMUMS

Scholars must have enough money to live on during their visit to MUSC.  Proof of the amount of funding must be provided, since it is the sole basis for determining whether or not the support will be adequate to maintain a minimum decent standard of living for the scholar and his/her dependents.  In addition, this funding will be noted on the DS-2019, which will be used by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate Official as they decide whether a J-1 visa will be issued.  Please note that immigration documents cannot be issued for scholars with inadequate funding.

The minimum financial support required is approximately $1850 per month for the J-1 Exchange Visitor; plus $500 per month for the J-2 dependent spouse and $300 per month for each J-2 dependent child. 

If the scholar is to perform research in a postdoctoral position at MUSC and funded by MUSC, the salary must be approved by the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.  (Follow the department requirements and procedures).   

ELIGIBILITY FOR J-1 SCHOLAR STATUS

Eligibility for J-1 sponsorship is determined by DOS regulations and MUSC policy.  Non tenure track faculty and certain academic and sponsored research staff members qualify for a J-1 visa under MUSC's sponsorship.  Typical titles are Postdoctoral Fellow, Visiting Scientist, or Visiting Scholar or Professor.  Administrative, technical, or support staff members do not qualify, nor do undergraduates.
 
To be eligible for Research Scholar or Professor category, the prospective scholar may not have been previously in any J status for longer than six months.  If J status was longer than six months, there is a twelve month bar for participation.  A prospective scholar, who has completed his/her program as J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category is NOT eligible for sponsorship for a repeat participation in new J-1 program in the Research Scholar or Professor category for twenty-four months.  There is an exception to the twelve month and twenty–four month bars if the scholar was previously in the United States in the “Short Term Scholar” category. 

SHORT TERM SCHOLAR CATEGORY

MUSC is designated to use this category for scholars coming to the U.S. for no more than six months for academic level research or teaching.  Extensions of stay beyond six months are NOT permitted.
We will use this category for scholars who:

(1) may or may not receive an academic appointment.
(2) may or may not receive MUSC funding.
(3) will definitely leave the U.S. within six months. 
(4) may come and go periodically to MUSC.
We will continue to use the Researcher or Professor categories for most visitors to campus.  The Short Term Scholar category may be appropriate in a particular case.

HEALTH INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS

The Exchange Visitor and his/her accompanying dependents will need to be covered by medical insurance as specified by the DOS Exchange Program regulations.  This includes medical coverage of at least $50,000 per accident or illness, medical evacuation of $10,000 and repatriation of $7,500 for each J-1 and J-2 visitor. 

DOS regulations further state:

"An Exchange Visitor who willfully fails to maintain the required insurance coverage or who makes a material misrepresentation to the sponsor concerning such coverage shall be deemed to be in violation of these regulations and shall be subject to termination as a participant in the Exchange Visitor Program."

To ensure compliance with this requirement, all scholars must sign a "Certification of Understanding” on J-1 Exchange Visitor Responsibilities with respect to the Mandatory Insurance Requirements for J-1 and J-2 Visa Holders either before or upon arrival at MUSC.