J-1 Exchange Visitors


The J-1 is a non-immigrant status that allows academic institutions to bring international scholars and students to the US to participate in research, teaching and study in support of the objectives of public diplomacy and mutual educational and cultural exchange.

UW–Madison is approved by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to serve as a J-1 sponsor for international scholars and students to participate in research, teaching and degree programs at UW–Madison. International Student Services (ISS) at UW–Madison handles any student related J-1 programs. International Faculty & Staff Services (IFSS) handles all scholar and non-student related J-1 programs.

The J-1 scholar categories most prevalent at UW–Madison are Research Scholar, Professor, Short-term Scholar, Specialist, and Student.

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Generally, at UW–Madison, you can hold J-1 status for one (1) day up to a maximum of five (5) years. A short-term scholar, however, can only hold J-1 status for 6 months or less.


To be eligible for J-1 scholar status, you:

  • Must hold a completed undergraduate degree
  • Must have enough money for all living expenses, including additional financial support for any accompanying family members either from UW–Madison or any other sources.
  • Must maintain health insurance for sicknesses or accidents when you are in J-1 status. Failure to maintain health insurance coverage will jeopardize your J-1 status. You must have University health insurance, purchase Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP) insurance or have insurance that has been pre-approved by the University.
  • Must be invited or hosted by a UW–Madison faculty or staff member
  • Must collaborate with a UW faculty or staff member
  • Work must benefit the UW
  • Work must be performed on campus
  • Must be in a terminal teaching or research position (not tenure track or annually renewable)


The J-1 is not appropriate for:

  • Tenure track positions or permanent annually renewable appointments
  • Anyone who intends to provide clinical care or work
  • Independent work
  • Performing work for a faculty member’s start up company other similar entity

UW–Madison cannot sponsor employees of affiliated entities. Exceptions are made when the individual is an employee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) working in a UW–Madison faculty HHMI Investigator’s laboratory.


Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of J-1s are considered dependents and are eligible for J-2 status.

J-2 dependents are permitted to apply for work permission in the U.S.

J-2 dependents may study in the United States, full-time or part-time.


J-1s may enter the U.S. up to 30-days before the start date of their J-1 program and may remain in the U.S. for up to 30-days after their J-1 program, if the I-94, arrival departure record given to them by Customs and Border Protection when they enter the US is marked  D/S for duration of status.

J-1s cannot work or “volunteer” to work during the grace period.


The sponsoring UW Department initiates the request to sponsor a J-1 exchange visitor, once it is determined whether or not the position is eligible for sponsorship and that the foreign national meets all eligibility requirements for the position and status.


New J-1

Initiate the J-1 request at least three (3) months before the scholar’s anticipated start date. The timeline includes the department and IFSS processing time as well as the visa stamping process at a US consulate and any potential delays.


Initiate the J-1 extension request at least one (1) month before the scholar’s current DS-2019 expiration date.


Initiate the J-1 shorten request at least two (2) weeks before the scholar’s resignation date or revised appointment end date.

Transfer a J-1 Program to UW–Madison

Initiate the J-1 transfer in request at least one (1) month before the scholar’s start date at UW–Madison. The start date at UW–Madison must be on or before the scholar’s current DS-2019 end date.

Transfer the UW–Madison Program to another J-1 Sponsor

Initiate the J-1 transfer out request at least one (1) month before the scholar’s end date at UW–Madison.


Please check the following chart if the prospective J-1 has been in a previous J-1 category and wishes to become a Research Scholar or Professor. The chart lists the bars that the J-1 would be subject to if they were in one of the categories and for the durations listed.

Previous Category 6 months of less More than 6 months
J-1 Research Scholar & Professor 24 months 24 months
J-2 Dependent of Research Scholar/Professor 24 months 24 months
J-1 Short Term Scholar No Bar N/A
J-1 Student Non – Degree No Bar 12 months
J-1 Student No Bar 12 months
J-1 Specialist No Bar 12 months
J-2 Dependent of all categories except Short Term No Bar 12 months


The J-1 non-immigrant process is completed in-house by IFSS. IFSS has been granted the authority by the Department of State (DOS) to create the DS-2019, the J-1 immigration document. This process is a 3-way partnership between IFSS, the hiring department, and the scholar.

The hiring department is encouraged to contact IFSS with any questions about the J-1 process and to discuss procedures.

IFSS uses Terra Dotta System (TDS) for all J-1 requests. If you do not have TDS access, please contact your Dean’s office. The Dean’s office will find a TDS user in your hiring department who can help you or the Dean’s office will ask IFSS to grant you access if you meet the eligibility requirements.

All J-1s must meet UW–Madison’s financial requirements and English proficiency requirements.


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Sponsorship Request

The department will create a New Sponsorship Request in TDS. IFSS will work with the scholar to ensure that they complete their required portions of the TDS process.

The department must upload the following documents in TDS for all new J-1 requests:

  1. Invitation/appointment letter
  2. Completed English proficiency interview assessment if no other acceptable documentation given the by the scholar
  3. Possible other documents depending on the circumstances

The department should take the anticipated length of the scholar’s program in mind when completing the TDS application. Likewise, the department should consider if there is a possibility the scholar will remain at the UW beyond the initial end date.

The following categories are available for J-1s through IFSS:

MAXIMUM PROGRAM LENGTH 6 months 5 years 5 years 1 year
APPROPRIATE ACTIVITIES Teaching, research, observation, or consulting for a limited time. Primarily to research, observe, or consult. Primarily to teach, lecture, observe, or consult. An expert in a field of specialized knowledge to observe, consult, or demonstrate special knowledge.

The host department must choose a field of specialty that relates to the research, teaching, or consulting for their scholar. Please consult with the host principal investigator to find the most appropriate field.

Once IFSS receives all required documentation and all requirements of the J-1 program are met, a DS-2019, the J-1 immigration document, will be printed for the J-1 and any accompanying J-2 dependents if applicable.

If the scholar is already in the U.S. in a different immigration status, they will need to take action to change their status to J-1. The scholar should consult with IFSS for ways to change status and the how long the change of status may take.

Dispatching the DS-2019

IFSS can only ship DS-2019s via UPS or FedEx. The department or scholar can provide a shipping label via inter-d or by uploading it TDS.

Alternatively, the department can pick up the DS-2019 from the IFSS office and ship it to the scholar. IFSS recommends that the department send the DS-2019 via a shipping service that offers tracking information. IFSS must report all lost and stolen DS-2019 to the U.S. Department of State so it is best to know where the DS-2019 is at all times. IFSS recommends the department not send DS-2019s through the United States Post Office.

Amending the Program

If the department or scholar needs change the start date, please send an updated appointment/invitation letter with the new program start and end dates to IFSS. IFSS cannot change the program start date once the J-1 has arrived in the U.S.

If there are other changes to the program before the scholar enters the U.S., (such as adding a dependent or changing the funding source), contact IFSS.

Transfer J-1 Program to UW–Madison

The department will complete the New Sponsorship Request. The scholar and the department should note that this is a transfer to Madison on the new request and in the immigration status history section of the request.

J-1 transfers to UW–Madison will not receive a UW–Madison DS-2019 until they register with IFSS. IFSS cannot print the Madison DS-2019 until the start date of the transfer.

A shipping label is not necessary for a transfer-in application.

Cancelling the J-1 Program before a Scholar arrives

If the program needs to be cancelled before the scholar arrives, please email IFSS at ischolars@ohr.wisc.edu.

IFSS will then cancel the J-1’s DS-2019. Once the DS-2019 is cancelled, it can no longer be used to enter the U.S. or apply for a J-1 visa stamp at a U.S. consulate. If the department would like the scholar to come back as a J-1 in the future, a New Sponsorship Request must be completed, and a new DS-2019 will be created for this scholar.


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Once a scholar arrives in the U.S., they must come to 21 North Park Street within 30 days of their DS-2019 start date to register.  The scholar must bring the original DS-2019, I-94, and visa stamp.  Failure to register timely will result in consequences to the scholar.  Upon registration, scholars will also be signed up for a mandatory orientation with IFSS which covers J-1 regulations and some elements of life in Madison and the U.S.

The scholar must visit the Student Health Insurance Program office (SHIP) at 333 East Campus Mall within 30 days of entering the U.S.  All scholars must visit the SHIP office.  Scholars will enroll in SHIP unless they:

  • qualify for State Group Health (SGH) insurance through their appointment at UW–Madison or
  • have other SHIP approved health insurance coverage and qualify for a SHIP waiver.

The scholar must purchase SHIP or have an approved waiver of the requirement to purchase SHIP on file with the SHIP office.

The scholar should contact SHIP with any health insurance questions. shipmail@uhs.wisc.edu.


If the host department wants the scholar to remain at the UW beyond the current DS-2019 end date, the department must complete the extension request under the “Requests” tab in TDS and submit the following documents:

  1. Updated appointment letter with extended end date and
  2. Financial documentation that shows enough funds for the period of extension.

The scholar must be compliant with all aspects of their J-1 program before IFSS will extend the program (i.e. they must be compliant with SHIP, I-9, etc.).

Making Changes to a J-1’s appointment/department/work location/FTE/etc.

Complete the Change to J-1 Appointment Form and send it to ischolars@ohr.wisc.edu. IFSS will determine whether or not updates to the DS-2019 are needed or if the J-1 will need to change status before those changes can occur.

Please note that IFSS cannot retroactively approve changes, so it is very important to notify IFSS prior to changes occurring.

Out of Country

If the department needs to send a scholar abroad to continue their program objectives, an Out of Country Request is required. Please read the information in Terra Dotta in the Request section.

The scholar must be compliant with all aspects of their J-1 program before IFSS can complete an Out of Country Request (i.e. they must be compliant with SHIP, I-9, etc.). Additionally, the scholar will need to request a travel endorsement on their DS-2019.

Transfer to another J-1 Program Sponsor

If a scholar wishes to transfer their J-1 program to another program sponsor, the department must complete the “Transfer Out” request in TDS in the “Requests” tab. IFSS has created a Transfer-Out Intake form to help with this process. Please, have the scholar fill out this form and return it to you before you complete the Transfer Out request. Please note that IFSS cannot transfer a scholar’s program if they have received a waiver of the 2 year home residency requirement.


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Ending a J-1 program on the DS-2019 end date

If the program ends as anticipated, the department will need to complete the J-1 Departure form in TDS.

Shorten Program

If the department or the scholar wants to end the J-1 program before the end date on the DS-2019, the department notifies IFSS using the End Program request in the “Request” tab of TDS.

Considerations once a Program has Ended

Once a J-1 Research Scholar or J-1 Professor’s program ends, they must wait two years before returning to the U.S. as a J-1 Research Scholar or J-1 Professor again, regardless of program sponsor. Depending on a scholar’s funding source and their home country, they may not be able to immediately move into H-1B status or get a green card (U.S. permanent residency).


UW-Madison’s application for J-1 internship (private sector) designation is moving toward a decision at U.S. Department of State.  Until UW-Madison receives a decision on this application, campus units who wish to bring students without a bachelor’s degree to Madison should contact IFSS.  IFSS is working with an external vendor to assist with sponsorship.  The campus units are required to pay for the costs associated with sponsorship. UW-Madison intends to create internal supporting services for certain J-1 student intern applications in time for summer 2023 internships.  The external vendor may still be needed in some cases. Please reach out to Jennifer Taylor (jennifer.taylor@wisc.edu) if you have additional questions.