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J Scholar Visa

Old Dominion University hosts many international visitors each year as researchers and faculty via this program, which is overseen by the Department of State. The visa document request form to the left is used to provide the information needed for their stay.

Below are outlines of requirements to qualify for a visiting scholar cateogry at the University. In all cases, the international visitor must have a faculty sponsor who is willing to take responsibility for hosting the visit. Individuals who join the University in J-1 status are not eligible for degree study at ODU. Students who wish to earn an Old Dominion degree must apply as regular students and be accepted through the normal admissions process. They must also contact ISSS to change their visa to a degree-seeking student status.


The following categories of individuals may be authorized for DS-2019 forms as visiting faculty:

  • Professors who are teaching at Old Dominion University in a visiting, non-tenure track position. No faculty member who is provided a tenure track appointment can be issued a DS-2019.
  • Researchers who hold faculty appointments or comparable professional positions at an overseas institution.
  • Graduate students who are completing a degree and who wish to come to Old Dominion University to conduct research under the guidance of a sponsoring ODU professor must be provided a DS-2019 as a researcher.
  • Scholars who are coming to Old Dominion University for consultation, observation, or similar level professional activities. These activities must involve a specific objective and provide for the professional development and growth of the scholar, his/her institution, and/or Old Dominion University.
  • Prior participation in the Professor or Research Scholar categories (as a J-1 or a J-2) will subject the prospective exchange visitor to either the "12-month bar" or the "24-month bar"on repeat participation. See the chart below for clarification:
Previous J Status Total duration of staty in the U.S. while holding previous J status
Eligible to begin a new program as a J-1 Reaearch Scholar or Professor
Any J-1 category other than Research Scholar or Professor 6 months or less Immediately
More than 6 months 12 months after the previous program's End Date or Effective Date of Completion*
J-2 dependent** of any J-1 category other than Research Scholar or Professor
6 months or less Immediately
More than 6 months
12 months after the previous program's End Date or Effective Date of Completion*
J-1 Research Scholar or Professor
Any length of time
24 months after the previous program's End Date or Effective Date of Completion*
J-2 dependent** of J-1 Research Scholar or Professor Any length of time
24 months after the previous program's End Date or Effective Date of Completion*

Source: ISSS at University of Nebraska, Lincoln

*The U.S. State Department defines "completion of program" as no longer actively participating in the activities of a Professor or Research Scholar. Barring period begins the day after the status of the exchange visitor's SEVIS record becomes "Inactive" or "Terminated."

**J-2 dependents are subject to the same bars as the principal J-1 exchange visitor.

Sponsoring Professor and Departmental Responsibilies

  • Ensure that the sponsoring faculty member will not be on sabbatical or other leave during the stay of the visiting faculty member; if he or she is taking leave, an alternate sponsor who will be available to meet the visiting faculty's needs must be specified in writing to the ISSS office.
  • Provide appropriate office and laboratory space as needed by the visiting faculty member to meet the goals of his/her visit.
  • Assist the visiting scholar and his/her family with locating an appropriate place to live and related needs.
  • Provide professional contacts and support for the visiting faculty member during his/her visit.
  • Insure that the visiting faculty member visits ISSS upon arrival at the University for orientation required by federal regulations and completes any processes required by the University.
  • Insure that any difficulties which arise during the visiting faculty member's stay at ODU are brought to the attention of ISSS.
  • Request extensions of exchange visitors in a timely manner.
  • Inform ISSS when exchange visitor completes program and exits US.

International Student & Scholar Services' Responsibilites

  • Issue necessary legal documentation to allow the visiting faculty member to pursue his/her activities at Old Dominion University.
  • Provide orientation to the University and community.
  • Inform the visiting faculty member of the legal responsibilities and privileges accorded his/her visa status.
  • Verify and monitor the health insurance requirement placed on holders of J-1 visas.

Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

A special requirement of the J-1 visa is that many scholars who come in on this visa must return to their home country for a total of at least 2 years before they can qualify for any other visa type. This requirement is placed upon all participants in J-1 programs who are sponsored by their home government, the US government, or an international agency; who have skills which are listed as in short supply in their home country; or who are medical doctors coming from advanced training.

An individual participating in the ODU Exchange Visitor Program as a Professor or Research Scholar--regardless of time used within the category--is subject to a two-year bar on repeat participation. This applies to all nationalities that are in the Research Scholar or Professor categories.


This is the form used to obtain and renew J-1 Exchange Visitor status. It states your program sponsor, dates authorized for program participation, and your classification as student, scholar, etc. An instruction sheet is the second page of this document. It replaces the form IAP-66. Three business days before traveling, submit your DS-2019 (and those of your dependents, if applicable) to ISSS so each form can be signed by a specially designated official.

Processing Fee

A $50 fee is due to ISSS from the unit requesting an initial DS-2019 form (J visa document) if the exchange visitor to ODU is not part of a formal exchange agreement. This fee is due at the time the request for the DS-2019 is submitted. Note: Dependents require individual DS-2019's and the fee applies to each document. The only individuals exempt from the fee are those who are part of a formal exchange agreement between ODU and a partner institution abroad.

Health Insurance for Exchange Visitors

Exchange visitors are required to have health insurance in effect for themselves and any accompanying dependents on J-2 visas; there are very specific requirements that must be met to avoid a visa status violation. Proof of coverage for the scholar and all dependents should be submitted within one week of the scholar's arrival in the US. The insurance must be maintained for the duration of the exchange visitor program.


This is the definition of what the scholar was admitted to the US to do. It may be study, research, teaching, etc. All activities must be directly related to this objective.

Extensions of Stay

If the completion of the program objective is going to require a longer time than what was originally on the DS-2019, the sponsoring department will need to request a new DS-2019 with an extended completion date. This request should be submitted at least 60 days prior to the expiration date on the DS-2019. This new DS-2019 will be used to notify the U.S. government of your extension. A scholar may have a maximum stay of five years as a J-1. Also, an individual who has been in the US as a J-1 student or scholar must be out of the US for at least one year at the end of his/her program before he/she may return as a J-1 scholar.


Employment of any type for J-1 (Exchange Visitor) scholar is allowed only under the specific terms which are stated on the DS-2019. Generally, this means that scholars admitted on Old Dominion's exchange visitor program may work only for Old Dominion University or the ODU Research Foundation. Scholars may maintain their program of teaching, research or observation as outlined on their DS-2019. A scholar may not undertake any other type of outside employment unless it is given specific authorization by the Responsible Officer of the institution or agency that has signed the DS-2019.


The visa is the entry permit placed inside your passport by a U.S. consulate. It is used only to enter the United States and therefore does not need to be renewed while you remain in this country. If it expires and you go outside the United States, you will need to obtain another visa--this can be done only outside of this country. If this is the case, you will need a new DS-2019, transcripts, and proof of financial support.


This notation is seen in your passport; it stands for "Duration of Status" and is the time for which you have been admitted to the U.S. This is the defined by law as period during which you are pursuing a full program of activities with a valid DS-2019 form plus 30 days within which to depart from the United States. (See information on Extension of Stay.)




As of May 2013, Immigration has stopped issuing the small I-94 card. Instead, a record of the scholar's arrival can be obtained by printing out the record. This should be kept with other important documents.

Program Sponsor

Do incidental lecturing outside of this institution if it directly relates to their purpose for being here and has prior written permission from International Student & Scholar Services.

Employment of Dependents

J-2 dependents may apply to the USCIS for employment permission. To qualify, you must show that there are sufficient funds to cover the costs for the J-1 scholar (employment cannot be used to support the exchange visitor) and that the funds will be used for the enrichment of the J-2. Forms, instructions, and assistance are available in ISSS.

Travel and Return to the US

You must have your DS-2019 signed for reentry if you leave the US and plan to return as a J-1 student. You must also have a valid passport and J-1 visa. If your visa is going to expire before you return, request a new DS-2019 for the new visa.


This is required when you have been out of status for 120 days or more through such actions as not attending full time (except for authorized vacation periods) or if you have failed to maintain a valid DS-2019, etc. If you need to apply for reinstatement, make an appointment to see ISSS.


This document was issued, in most cases, by the government of your foreign residence. Keep it in a safe place, as replacement must be done through your government and may be slow and costly. As identification, you can use your University ID or get either a driver's license or non-driver identification card. However, if you travel outside of Norfolk you should take your passport with you in case of an emergency.


The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services has replaced INS and BCIS, and is the branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that has authority over all aliens in the United States, including foreign scholars. ODU is in the district that deals with the Vermont Service Center for various requests, reports and applications.

Academic and Government Programs Division

This division--within the Department of State--has the responsibility for administering J-1 programs. It also approves any exceptions to the normal rules regarding J-1 students and scholars.


See DS-2019.