(For scholars who will be coming to MIT in J-1 visa status)
A Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (Form DS-2019) will enable you to apply for a J-1 visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and enter the United States in J-1 status. The dates on this form reflect your anticipated stay. This form is not a contract. Your dates may be changed or amended at the discretion of your hosting department.
Dependents of J-1 exchange visitors (spouse and unmarried children under age 21) can enter the United States in J-2 status. Each dependent must have a separate DS-2019. Children cannot remain in J-2 status after their 21st birthday.
In order to issue your DS-2019, information about you (and any J-2 family members) will be entered, as required by law, into SEVIS (the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System), a government tracking program used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
If you are unable to arrive at MIT within 30 days after the start date on your DS-2019, you must notify the International Scholars Office (ISchO) so we can change your start date in SEVIS. Otherwise, your DS-2019 will be invalidated. If your plans change and you do not use the DS-2019, please return it to us promptly.
1. Complete the DS-2019. Carefully read page two, especially regarding the two-year home country physical presence requirement, and sign the "certification" at the bottom of page one.
2. Pay the $180 SEVIS fee. J-1 scholars must pay this fee in addition to visa application fees at least three business days before submitting the visa application and undergoing the visa interview. Canadian citizens must pay the fee at least three business days before entering the United States. J-2 dependents are not required to pay the SEVIS fee.
3. Make an appointment at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy and submit the DS-2019 and SEVIS fee receipt, along with any other required documents, to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy. [Canadian citizens, see below.] The J-1 is a nonimmigrant visa, and the consul who issues the visa stamp must be satisfied that you do not plan to immigrate to the United States. The burden of proof will be on you to show you have a residence in your home country which you do not intend to abandon and that you qualify for the J-1 visa category.
When you obtain the J-1 visa stamp, e-mail the ISchO to tell us when you will arrive at MIT.
Please review the following web pages for important information about the visa application and travel to the United States:
Please be aware that if a security clearance or additional administrative processing is required before your visa can be issued, the clearance may take days, weeks, or longer. If your visa application is delayed, e-mail the ISchO to tell us the date you applied for the visa and at which U.S. Consulate/Embassy you applied.
4. When you arrive at the airport or border, present your DS-2019 and SEVIS fee receipt along with your passport and J-1 visa stamp to the immigration examiner, and request to be admitted in J-1 status. You may enter the United States in J-1 status no more than 30 days before or 30 days after the
start date on the DS-2019.
5. When you arrive at MIT, you must register with the ISchO in Building E38, Room 219. If you do not register within 30 days after the start date on your DS-2019, your J-1 status will be invalidated. Please bring your passport and DS-2019. We will provide you with information for international scholars and their families and invite you to a required orientation meeting, at which we will discuss immigration issues, health insurance, taxes, MIT, and the Boston-Cambridge area.
Please Note: You must register with the ISchO so we can validate your J-1 SEVIS record before you apply for a U.S. Social Security Number.
Canadian citizens are never required to obtain a visa stamp from a consular officer. However, they are admitted in a specific visa classification and must present the DS-2019 and SEVIS fee receipt at the border or port of entry in order to be admitted in J-1 status and be given a Form I-94 or arrival stamp with the correct notations. Canadians are typically asked to pay a $7 border-crossing fee related to the Form I-94.
Download the Department of State's Exchange Visitor Program Participant Welcome Brochure
Early Departure or Change in Plans: The ISchO is required to report in SEVIS if you do not come to MIT or if you leave before the end date on your DS-2019. Please tell us when you intend to leave MIT, if you cancel your plans to come to MIT, or if your start date will be delayed.
Health Insurance: All J-1 scholars and J-2 dependents must have health insurance that meets specific requirements. We must notify DOS if you fail to meet the requirements.
Employment Authorization: The J-1 authorizes your work at MIT as described on the DS-2019; it does not permit you to work elsewhere. If you have questions regarding other employment in the United States, please contact the ISchO.
J-1 Visa Categories:
Twenty-four Month Bar: If you are coming to MIT as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor, you and your J-2 dependents will become subject to the 24-month bar if: (1) you complete a full five years of J-1 Research Scholar or Professor program participation with one or more J-1 program sponsors, or (2) You complete a particular J-1 Research Scholar or Professor program of ANY LENGTH, and your SEVIS record becomes inactive BEFORE the full five-year period is over. You must then wait at least 24 months before you may begin a new J-1 program in the Research Scholar or Professor category.
Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement [212(e)]: Be sure to read page two of your DS-2019 form. You and your J-2 dependents will be subject to this requirement if your J-1 program is funded by either your government or the U.S. government, involves specialized knowledge or skills deemed necessary by your home country, or if you came to the U.S. for graduate medical training. If this requirement applies, you must return to your home country for a cumulative total of two years at the end of your J-1 program. You are not prohibited from traveling to the U.S. but you may not benefit from certain employment-based or family-based visas until the requirement is satisfied.
Do not leave the United States without the immigration documents required for your return. You must have a valid J-1 entry visa stamp in your passport and a valid DS-2019, signed on the front by an ISchO staff member. We are happy to assist with questions about your documents. If your visa stamp has expired or will expire soon, please check with the ISchO to get the proper instructions for applying for a new one. It is not possible to renew a U.S. visa stamp inside the United States. Special regulations apply to visits to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands. More Information about Travel and Visa Renewal
Visa requirements and immigration regulations are complex and they do change. Please do not hesitate to consult the ISchO's website, call or e-mail us, or visit our office at any time during your visit to MIT. We hope you will have a productive and happy stay here.
Last Updated: January 2016