The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State's (DOS) Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, as amended. The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is "to promote international educational and cultural exchange in order to develop mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries."

The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), is authorized as a J-1 program sponsor for short-term scholars, professors, research scholars, and students.  UCSB’s Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) issues the “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status”, known as the “DS-2019 form”.  The DS-2019 form establishes the record in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and is needed to apply for a J-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate.

Family members of J-1 Exchange Visitors (legally married spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) can enter the U.S. as J-2 Dependents.  Other family members (such as parents, siblings or domestic partners) are not eligible for J-2 status, but may be eligible to visit the U.S. as tourists with a B-2 visa.

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Below are some basic eligibility requirements for all J-1 Short-Term Scholars, Research Scholars and Professors:

  1. Purpose of pursuing an appropriate activity (such as research, teaching, or training)
  2. Must demonstrate intent to return to home country (as determined by consular officer)
  3. Sufficient funding for program – see minimum financial requirements
  4. Appropriate background for program activity (must meet appropriate degree requirements)
  5. Adequate English proficiency (determined by the host department)



Following are details that are more specific to each J-1 Category:

Short-Term Scholar

Professors, research scholars, specialists or people with similar education or accomplishments who come to the United States on a short-term (6 months or less) for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training or demonstrating special skills at universities and similar institutions.



Research Scholar and Professor

These two categories are identical but differ only as to whether the visitor’s primary academic intent is to conduct research or to teach. Research Scholars may also teach or lecture in conjunction with their research activities, if allowed by the sponsoring department. Professors may also conduct research in conjunction with their teaching, if allowed by the sponsoring department.

The research scholar or professor’s appointment to a position shall be temporary, even if the position itself is permanent. Incidental lectures or short-term consultations are permitted with the approval of the responsible officer so long as they are directly related to the objectives of the participant's program, and do not delay the exchange program’s completion date.

  • Three weeks to five years in duration
  • Can be extended up to the five year maximum
  • 24-month bar on return visits as J-1 Research Scholar or Professor DOES APPLY.
  • 212(E) Two Year Home Residency Requirement may apply.



J-1 Visiting Undergraduate Researcher

This category is used for visiting undergraduate researchers who have not attained a bachelor’s level; who will receive at least half of their funding from a source other than personal funds; who will participate full-time in a prescribed course of study or research study toward a degree at a foreign institution; and who will maintain satisfactory advancement towards the completion of their academic program at a foreign institution while at UC Santa Barbara.

Important Note: The 12-month bar applies to J-1 Undergraduate Researchers who have been in the J program for more than 6 months. They will not be eligible to apply for a J-1 visa in the research scholar/professor category once they obtain a degree until at least 12 months have passed since the date of completing their Undergraduate Researcher J program.

  • Program time: 3 weeks-2 years
  • Advantage: This category allows undergraduates nearing a degree to do research or study toward their degree. It can be used for up to 24 months.
  • Disadvantage: Undergraduate researchers at UC Santa Babara pay no student fees so they are not eligible for student benefits such as student health insurance, free access to the Rec Cen, or free travel on MTD buses. In addition, this category is only available to non-degree students who are funded at least 50% by UC Santa Barbara, their home institution, a scholarship, or some other source of funds that is not personal funds.


Tourist Visa (B1/B2) VS Exchange Visitor (J-1) visa

A tourist visa (B1/B2/WB/WT) status may, at first glance, seem appropriate for certain visitors who are invited to UCSB. These visits may be short in duration, the visitor may not be paid, and will not have a formal appointment at the university. However, if the university is benefiting from the visit, if equipment and facilities used are owned or operated by the university, the contents of the visit and/or research activity undertaken might result in the form of published work, patent or discovery at a later date, and/or the visitor is involved in a formally structured program, use of B1/B2/WB/WT visa will contradict U.S. Department of State guidelines. In such cases a J-1 visa would be the appropriate visa status. The Department of State has made clear that any visitor to a U.S. academic institution who engages in a collaborative activity or research, and whose activity will benefit the hosting institution should be sponsored for a J-1 visa.