Hosting a J-1 Scholar at MSU
Departments wishing to host a J-1 scholar should start the invitation process no later than 8 weeks prior to the intended arrival date of the scholar. Below is a summary of the steps and responsibilities. For a comprehensive guide to hosting a J-1 Scholar, please download the following file: Guide to Hosting a J-1 Scholar (PDF)*.
Checklist of procedures and responsibilities for departments:
To invite a J-1 scholar: [Make sure you have read the J-1 Scholar FAQs]
- The J Request Form must be completed and signed by the Department Chairperson. Download the J-1 Request Form.
- Choose an appropriate program begin date. For best results, the J Request Form should come to OISS a minimum of 8 weeks prior to the scholar's start date. This will allow time for processing, mailing, and visa issuance. Remember that processing times for visa stamps can take up to 30 days or longer. Plan ahead as there are often delays.
- Along with the completed J Request Form, send a copy of the scholar's vita, proof of funding and/or the offer letter from your department. Incomplete files will not be processed.
- Once OISS has all the paperwork from your department, it will take an average of 7 to 10 working days to process and issue a DS-2019. The DS-2019 is the document the scholar will present at the U.S. Consulate abroad to facilitate J-1 visa stamp issuance.
Note: During the preparation of the DS-2019, OISS will be assigning a ZPID to those scholars who do not have one.
- Once the DS-2019 is completed and ready for pick up, OISS will e-mail or phone the departmental contact person listed on the J request form. OISS will not send forms through campus mail.
Optional: Visa officers are closely scrutinizing all visa applications especially those in certain technology fields listed on the technology alert list. It may be helpful if the department writes a brief To Whom It May Concern letter that explains in simple terms the scholar's duties and research objectives. This is not a letter that will vouch for the personal character of the scholar. It will explain the scholar's research or program so the visa officer is better able to determine if further security clearances are needed.
Arrival of a J-1 Scholar:
- Scholar check in with OISS is mandatory within 20 days of their program begin date. This includes all J-1 scholars (paid or unpaid by the university). If the scholar's SEVIS record is not activated within 30 days of the program start date on the DS-2019, the scholar is out of status and must leave the country. To check in, scholars should come to OISS any time Monday through Friday from 1 pm to 4:30 pm to complete this process.
- Note: If the scholar is unable to make the arrival date, the department must contact OISS so that the scholar entry date can be deferred in the SEVIS system. If this is not done and the scholar checks in beyond the 30 day grace period, there will be no way to activate them in SEVIS. It is critical for the department to be in contact with the scholar to confirm arrival dates.
- Upon check in, the scholar must provide OISS with their U.S. address. This address must describe a residence. It cannot be a P.O Box or an office address. It can be a "care of" address.
While the Scholar is here:
- Scholars must report any change of address to OISS within 5 days.
- Scholars must also report any life event that may affect their immigration status such as birth of a child, marriage, change of legal name, divorce or death. This rule also extends to J-2 dependents.
- Scholars must come to OISS to have their DS-2019 signed if they will travel outside the United States. Signatures are valid for 6 months.
Departure of Scholar:
Scholars must check out at OISS. OISS is required to report the scholar's program end date to the federal government. This is the date the scholar completes a program. It could be the end date on the DS-2019 or it could be a prior date.
Extension of Stay:
- Request for extension must be made using the J-1 Request Form.
- The scholar's program must be extended before the end date on their current DS-2019. If the end date lapses then no extension is possible. The scholar must leave the United States. Note: If you know a scholar whose end date is approaching and needs an extension, please fill out the necessary paperwork and send it to OISS.
- To ensure that this process runs smoothly, send OISS any extension paperwork a month prior to the program end date. OISS will then verify that the scholar is eligible for an extension and process the paperwork.
- J-1 scholars, students, and dependents (J-2s) are required to have major medical insurance for the duration of the program.
Transfer to another J program:
J-1 scholars who plan to transfer to another institution must inform OISS of their intent to do so prior to transferring so that this can be properly noted in the SEVIS system. They need to pick up and complete the transfer out form from OISS.
Other issues of Concern:
- Inappropriate advice given to the scholar by a faculty member, academic adviser or international adviser that results in loss of legal status is not accepted by INS as grounds to reinstate the scholar to legal status.
- Reinstatement to legal status will rarely, if ever, be granted in the U.S. to scholars who lose their status. The scholar must return home with no guarantee of being issued a visa to return.
- J-1 scholars must always be in possession of a current DS-2019 which accurately reflects their purpose for being at MSU. If it is close to expiring the scholar should request an extension from his/her program sponsor.
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