For information on Birmingham, please view our Visitor Handbook.

Receiving your DS-2019 and booking a visa appointment

After we receive the necessary documents, the ISSS office will generate a Form DS-2019 for you from the US government’s SEVIS database and mail it to you via UPS. You will need the original, blue-ink-signed Form DS-2019 with you to present during your interview with a US consular official before coming to the US.

You can book a visa appointment even before your DS-2019 arrives in the mail by using the SEVIS number and the Program number that was included in your pre-arrival email. An overview of the visa process is available on the US Department of State website, but it is important to check specific instructions for the US Embassy/Consulate where you will apply (visit your particular Embassy/Consulate’s website). You can also review the visa appointment times at various consulates.

Here are the main steps:

  1. Pay the SEVIS Fee before your visa interview
  2. Review the visa appointment wait times at various consulates.
  3. Complete the online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-160 (NOTE – The Department of State has a page for DS-160 Frequently Asked Questions)
  4. Pay the Visa Application fee and schedule your visa interview
  5. Prepare your interview and the supporting documents (NOTE – make sure you check the website of the Embassy or Consulate where you will apply to check the requested documents).
Who?Minimum Supporting Documents requested
Primary J-1 applicant
  • Passport
  • Original Form DS-2019
  • Form DS-160 Confirmation Page
  • Visa application fee receipt payment
  • If you are student intern – original DS-7002 Training/Internship Placement Plan
J-2 Dependents (spouse and child(ren) under age 21)
  • Passport for each
  • Original Form DS-2019 for each
  • Proof of relationship with the primary applicant with certified English translation – Marriage certificate / birth certificate(s) / adoption certificate(s)

Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens applying for J-1 or J-2 visa status are not required to obtain a visa stamp at a US Embassy or Consulate to enter the US. Canadian citizens will simply need to present the following documents to the Custom and Border Protection (CBP) agent at the port of entry:

Be sure to that the officer stamps your passport and indicates on the stamp “J-1” and “D/S” for Duration of Status under “admit until date”.

After your entry, you will be able to retrieve your electronic arrival record I-94 (I-94 website). Be sure that the I-94 list your entry as “J-1” with “D/S” as the “admit until date”. If it is not the case, please contact ISSS at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and send us copies of your passport, entry stamp and I-94.

Attend your interview

When you attend your interview, remember to be courteous and answer truthfully to any questions asked by the consular officer.

Everyone who applies for a visa undergoes screening before the visa is issued, regardless of nationality. A consular officer will conduct an initial review of the application and interview the applicant about the planned activity in the US. Please provide clear and concise information about the field of study, teaching, research, or other activity at UAB.

Be aware of the issues that may cause problems or delays in the visa application process:

  • Inconsistent spelling of name on documents (passport, visa application, supporting documentation).
  • Failure to read and follow the tips and guidance on the consulate’s website.
  • The consular officer cannot understand your purpose for being at UAB and therefore cannot assess the risk/benefit of granting the visa.
  • The applicant is from a country considered to pose a risk, or is working in a sensitive research field listed on the Technology Alert List (“TAL”).
  • Someone else has the same or similar names as you. The consulate must rule out any incidents and resolve any “hits” the Consular Lookout (CLASS) system reveals on the name(s).

After your interview, your application may be selected for an extra screening, called Administrative Processing. If you are subject to such procedure, the Consular Officer will inform you and give you specific instructions. Please follow the instructions and inform immediately the ISSS Office as well as your hosting Department at UAB. Administrative Processing can take between 4 to 6 weeks to be resolved, sometimes more.

You will be able to check the status of your visa application online after your interview. Don’t book your flight ticket before your visa is approved!

Travel to the US

We know that international travel is dehumanizing for everyone, but it can be especially frustrating and intimidation for non-US citizens. Please be honest, patient, and courteous with all US government officials, even if they are not so with you.

You may experience:

  • Delays in domestic and international flights due to heightened security measures.
  • Fingerprinting and/or digital photography taken upon entering the US.
  • Inquiries and increased review of documents.
  • Multiple inspections by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and/or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials.
  • Photocopying of documents by immigration officials and possible videotaping of interviews with CBP and/or ICE officers.
  • Inspection of personal belongings, luggage, pockets, or other items. CBP issued a new directive on the Border Search of Electronic Devices in January 2018. Please be aware that your phone, laptop, tablet, etc. may be seized and examined upon entry to the US.

Pre-Arrival Checklist and Resources

Please note that you will need to accomplish various administrative tasks upon your arrival at UAB. That is why we recommend that you arrive about 1 week or more before your official start date. You are authorized to enter the US up to 30 days before your official start date.

 

Transferring to UAB from another Research Institution Within the US to UAB

J-1 Federal Regulations allow transfer under 2 conditions:

  • The purpose of the transfer is to complete the objective for which the Exchange Visitor was admitted in the US, and
  • The Exchange Visitor remains within the same participant category (i.e. Research Scholar, Professor, Short-Term Scholar or Student Intern).

Exchange Visitors transferring to UAB from another US institution must follow the same procedure as an initial J-1. In addition, they must complete a transfer clearance form. Contact the international scholar advisor or A/RO at your current institution to assist with this process. We will need a copy of your current Form DS-2019 and a description of your research projects at your current institution in order to determine whether the prospective activity at UAB is in line with your original research objectives.

Orientation Sessions

Orientation sessions for J-1 scholars are held at the international center on the second floor of Mervyn H. Sterne Library every Wednesday from 9:30 AM until 11:00 AM. Please bring your signed/stamped Form DS-2019, your passport, a printout of your Form I-94. If you have dependents (spouse and/or children), please bring their documents too.

Orientation sessions generally last about one hour. The Department of State requires all J-1 exchange visitors to review this Welcome Brochure outlining Exchange Visitor Program regulations. You may also want to review the Wilberforce Pamphlet concerning the rights of temporary workers in the United States. You will not be able to enter labs or other UAB workspaces to begin your research until after you attend an ISSS international scholar orientation. After orientation, your UAB department administrator is responsible for your onboarding process to give you access to your lab and set up payroll (if you are funded by UAB).