Office of International Affairs

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Applying for UTHealth NEW / INITIAL J-1 Visa Sponsorship

Foreign nationals approved to join UTHealth as uncompensated visitors (Observers, Trainees and Visiting Scientists) or appointed as compensated UTHealth employees (Postdoctoral Fellows, Researchers, Professors) for whom the J-1 visa results appropriate must follow established procedures and provide a set of documents and forms for the office of International Affairs (OIA) to determine eligibility to obtain SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) Form DS-2019.

Visitors to participate on uncompensated endeavors at UTHealth must apply for approval to join the institution under one of the visiting categories offered through the Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic and Research Affairs (EVPARA). Once approved, foreign nationals requiring sponsorship under the J-1 Exchange Visitor program will be assisted by the Office of International Affairs to obtain SEVIS Form DS-2019 or any other appropriate visa status.

All exchange visitors (J-1) and their dependents are required by federal regulations to maintain health insurance coverage

Transferring-IN to UTHealth as a J-1 Exchange Visitor

Foreign nationals who are already in the U.S. on a J-1 exchange visitor program must be approved by that J-1 sponsor program to transfer to UTHealth. Current J-1 program sponsor must transfer the visitor's SEVIS electronic record to sponsorship of UTHealth before OIA is able to issue continuing Form DS-2019.

With all new immigration documents at hand, exchange visitors are required to Check-in and obtain clearance from the Office of International Affairs before engaging in authorized activity.

Each new J-1 exchange visitor on an initial Form DS-2019 is responsible for paying a SEVIS I-901 Fee, (currently US $180) to SEVP. Learn more about the SEVIS I-901 Fee process and how to make your payment.


Applying to CHANGE status to J-1 from another non-immigrant status

Non-immigrant visitors who are already in the U.S. on a visa status other than J-1, could be eligible to apply for a change of status to J-1. There are two ways to obtain a new non-immigrant status.

1) Changing Immigration Status by Traveling Abroad

Once approved to join UTHealth and after receipt of all necessary documentation, OIA will issue a J-1 Certificate of Eligibility (Form DS-2019). Prior to the program start date, the prospective J-1 exchange visitor will need to travel outside the U.S. and apply for the appropriate J-1 visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate overseas. It is generally advised that exchange visitors return to their home country when applying for a visa, rather than a to a neighbor country where no residency or citizenship ties exit. The length of time required to apply and obtain the actual J-1 visa stamp may vary from days to weeks. Waiting for the visa could be more convenient while in the home country.

After the J-1 visa stamp is issued, the exchange visitor will be eligible to return to the U.S. with the new J visa stamp, Form DS-2019, and other applicable travel documents. Upon clearing immigration inspection, the exchange visitor should be admitted to the U.S. in J-1 status, with a new I-94 admission card authorizing stay in the U.S. for the length of time on Form DS-2019. With all new immigration documents at hand, exchange visitors are required to Check-in and obtain clearance from the Office of International Affairs before engaging in authorized activity.

2) Changing Immigration Status by Submitting Application to USCIS

Submitting a Change of Status request (Form I-539) to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows the petitioner to remain in the U.S. while the decision is pending, provided the application is filed in a timely manner. This means that the current non-immigrant status must still be valid when the government receives the Change of Status application.

Please note that individuals in B-2 and J-2 status may encounter special consideration and should contact an International Visitor Advisor in OIA for further guidance

Both methods have associated advantages and disadvantages, including immigration, timing, and financial ramifications. Visitors on B-2 and J-2 status may deserve special consideration. Sponsors and visitors are encouraged to discuss individual circumstances with an OIA International Visitor Advisor.

Contact us for questions related to sponsorship under the exchange visitor program and issuance of Form DS-2019