The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program provides opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the US and to return home to share your experiences. J-1 status is appropriate for international visitors coming to UAB temporarily to participate in research or teaching. J-1 exchange visitor visas are available in several categories and timeframes, as described below.

ISSS is responsible for issuing the Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 Status (or DS-2019). To issue such a document, we will proceed in 2 steps:

Step #1: the prospective Exchange Visitor will need to provide documentation of English proficiency meeting one of the Department of State’s guidelines (see details below).

Step #2: Once such proof is provided, the prospective Exchange Visitor and UAB Department will need to provide the necessary forms and documents AT LEAST 2 MONTHS prior to the Exchange Visitor scheduled start date.

ISSS can process a J-1 Exchange Visitor application in approximately two weeks after all necessary documents are provided by the visitor and the sponsoring department.


Both US federal regulations and UAB policy require all international students and scholars to obtain health insurance. Upon arriving at UAB, exchange visitors must check in with the J-1 Scholar Advisor and provide proof of health insurance coverage that meets or exceeds minimum levels established by the Department of State. Review the very important information here in order to purchase adequate health insurance before arriving in the US.

English Proficiency Determination

Department of State regulations require J-1 exchange visitor sponsors, such as UAB, to document English proficiency sufficient to “function on a day-to-day basis in the [academic] environment” for all visitors who are non-native English speakers or who are not residents/citizens of a country where English is an official language. According to federal regulations, acceptable methods of English verification for J-1 purposes are:
  • Proof of graduation from a four-year institution where the curriculum was conducted in English
  • Signed documentation from an English language school confirming oral and reading comprehension proficiency
  • Evidence of passing a recognized English language exam, such as the TOEFL (minimum iBT of 77), IETLS (minimum 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 on each section), or PTEA (minimum 51)
  • Skype assessment by one of UAB’s professional Teachers of English as a Second or Other Language (More information available HERE)

Scholars (and their families) looking for additional language development once they arrive in the US are encouraged to participate in Community English Classes offered free of charge by UAB’s School of Education.

Compensation and/or Reimbursement for Occasional Lectures and Short-Term Consultations

J-1 scholars in the Professor and Research Scholar categories can accept compensation for one-off lecture opportunities at institutions other than UAB as long as the opportunity is: a) directly related to the objective of the exchange visitor’s program, b) incidental to the exchange visitor’s primary program activities, c) not going to delay the completion of the visitor’s program at UAB, AND d) is documented in SEVIS by the ISSS office prior to the activity taking place. The scholar will be considered as an independent contractor for I-9 purposes.

If you wish to take advantage of a one-time lecture opportunity, please book an appointment with an A/RO (J-1 “Alternate Responsible Officer” or “Responsible Officer” in Department of State lingo) in the ISSS office and bring the following documentation with you:
  • Address of the location where you will provide the lecture
  • A letter from the host institution stating the terms of the opportunity, including the duration, number of hours, field or subject, amount of compensation, and description of the activity
  • A letter from your UAB department chair recommending the opportunity and stating how it will enhance your program at UAB.

Template letters are provided here for your convenience. Once one of our A/ROs has reviewed the documentation with you during the scheduled interview, we will make a determination as to whether the activity is warranted and will update your SEVIS record accordingly. Please note if you do not follow the above process, ISSS will be unable to write a letter on your behalf or otherwise facilitate any payment to you from the host university.

Short-Term Scholars

Short-term scholars can remain in the US from a minimum of one day to a maximum of six months. No extension can be granted. The 12- and 24-month bars do not apply to short-term scholars who wish to return to the US in the J-1 Research Scholar/Professor category.

J-1 Research Scholars/Professors

Professors and research scholars can stay in the US for a minimum of three weeks up to a maximum of five years to engage in research and/or teaching. The appointment must be non-tenure track. The visitor must have a specific objective, such as to conduct research, teach, or consult. Sponsoring UAB departments should complete and return the International Staff Appointment Form to ISSS to begin processing the exchange visitor’s Form DS-2019. If you wish to sponsor an exchange visitor to participate in a program involving observation, consultation, teaching, and research, please also complete and return the Supplement for Foreign Medical Graduates. If your prospective hire has previously held J-1 status in the US, please contact ISSS; the 12- or 24-month bars may prevent him/her from obtaining another J-1 visa in the research scholar/professor category.


UAB welcomes talented medical residents and fellows from across the world every summer, but UAB cannot issue DS-2019s to individuals coming to the US for graduate medical education or training. If your objective is to pursue medical training at UAB, you must seek sponsorship through the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), which is the only sponsoring agency that can issue a Form DS-2019 for foreign medical graduates who want to pursue medical training in the US.

More information is available here.

212(e) Home Residence Requirement

Exchange Visitors who receive financial support from the US or another government, whose skill has been listed by their country of nationality or last permanent residence as one in short supply there, or who are foreign medical graduates coming to the US for graduate medical education or training are subject to a two-year home residence requirement. Exchange Visitors subject to this requirement must return to their home country and remain there for two years before becoming eligible to apply either permanent residence in the US or a temporary employment (H-1B) visa. The two-year home residency requirement can be waived in some instances, most commonly via a Conrad 30 waiver for physicians practicing in healthcare shortage metropolitan areas or providing patient care to medically underserved populations. Eligibility for a Conrad 30 waiver is decided initially by the Alabama Department of Public Health. If you need a waiver, please contact ISSS.