During Your Program

Extending or Shortening your J-1 Program


It is your responsibility to know the expiration date of your DS-2019, which indicates the period of authorized stay in the United States. If you need additional time to complete your program objective, a J-1 extension must be requested through Terra Dotta by your department prior to the expiration date on your DS-2019. You cannot initiate an extension request.

If you have J-2 dependents with your program, their DS-2019s will automatically be extended also.


We understand that your plans may change. If you plan on leaving your appointment and the U.S. earlier than expected, you must inform IFSS and your host department. Updating your program end date is important because it may affect the date you can return to the United States on a new J-1 program or in another nonimmigrant status and your health insurance payments. Notifying IFSS is important because you will be responsible for paying for your SHIP insurance through your original end date even if you have already left the U.S.

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Maximum Periods of Stay

Research Scholar and Professor: 5 years
Short-term Scholar: 6 months
Specialist: 1 year

No extensions can be granted beyond these maximum time periods.

Extensions & your Visa

Extending your DS-2019 extends your J-1 immigration status, but does not extend the visa stamp in your passport. If your current visa has expired and you travel outside of the U.S. during the extended period, you must apply for a new visa stamp to return to the U.S. If you never leave the U.S., it is ok for your visa stamp to be expired.

Visa Processing

Click here to review an overview of U.S. nonimmigrant visa processing.

Travel: Domestic & International

You do not need authorization from IFSS to travel within the U.S.

You should carry copies of your passport biographical and visa stamp pages, DS-2019, and most recent I-94 record when you are travelling outside of the Madison area.

You do not need to carry your immigration documents within the Madison area.

A travel endorsement or signature by a J-1 specialist is required on your DS-2019 if you are travelling internationally during your J-1 program. This travel signature is required for re-entry to the U.S.

Once your DS-2019 has a travel endorsement, you may use the signature to travel internationally for 6 months from the date of the endorsement. When the signature expires, you must submit another request through Terra Dotta.

To enter the United States after a temporary trip abroad, you will need your:

  • Passport (valid for 6 months or longer from the date of entry)
  • Valid J-1 visa stamp
  • DS-2019 signed for travel by IFSS within the last 6 months
    • Travel signatures (endorsements) are requested through Terra Dotta.

Depending on where you travel, you may be able to enter the U.S. using automatic visa revalidation.

If your J-1 visa stamp has expired and you want to travel internationally, you must obtain another J-1 visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy outside the U.S. before you can re-enter the United States. IFSS recommends you travel to your country of citizenship or permanent residency in order to obtain a new visa stamp.

Processing times vary greatly among the different consulates, so please plan accordingly. To check current visa interview and processing times at a specific U.S. Consulate, consult the Department of State’s website.

Please note that the wait times listed do not include any delays that may occur as a result of background or security checks. It is highly recommended to contact the consulate or embassy you plan to visit to get the most accurate information.

Travel with an expired visa using Automatic Visa Revalidation (AVR) is permitted when you travel to a contiguous territory (Canada, Mexico, and certain Caribbean Islands) for 30 days or less. You do not need to apply for a U.S. visa stamp to return to the U.S. if you only visit these countries during your travel for 30 days or less. You will need to present the following documents in order to re-enter the United States using AVR:

  • Passport
  • Expired J-1 visa stamp
  • DS-2019 signed for travel within the last 6 months
  • I-94 record

Temporary Absence from the U.S.

The Out-of-Country function in SEVIS allows program sponsors (UW-Madison) to indicate that a scholar is participating in their exchange program outside the U.S temporarily. Completing the out of country request allows the scholar to maintain their J-1 nonimmigrant status during their time abroad.

For scholars who are temporarily outside of the U.S. for more than 30 days AND will be continuing to pursue the program objective originally described in their appointment letter, please submit an out of country request through Terra Dotta. This request must be submitted before the scholar leaves the U.S. and approval is at the discretion of IFSS.

During the temporary absence, scholars are required to:

  • Maintain UW approved health insurance.
  • Report any changes in activities or dates listed in the out of country request to their J-1 advisor.
  • Continue pursuing their program objectives.

 If any of the above conditions are not maintained during the absence, IFSS will terminate the scholar’s J-1 program.

Other Program Requests and Requirements

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Authorized Employment

As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you are eligible for employment at UW–Madison, but only in the field specified on the DS-2019 and only with your UW sponsoring department. Unauthorized employment will result in non-compliance with your immigration status.  We will have to terminate your program and you must leave the U.S. immediately.

Long-term employment may require a change of immigration status for continued employment eligibility. Please consult your IFSS specialist regarding any changes in your official title, salary or department to be certain that you are authorized to engage in such employment under your current J-1 status. J-1 status is not appropriate for tenured or tenure-track positions or for clinical work.

Occasional Lectures and Consultations

You may be able to accept payment from other employers for speaking at conferences, teaching a class or other similar activities. The proposed activity must be temporary and/or occasional and related to the original program objective of your current J-1 program.

Written approval is required from IFSS before engaging in outside activities that will involve payments or honorariums such as those described above. Please consult an IFSS specialist for further details in advance of participating in such an activity.

Program Transfers

If you decide to continue your J-1 program at another university or at another department at UW–Madison, you may be able to transfer your program. You must continue in the same field of specialization and you must remain in the same J-1 category.

Please contact IFSS as soon as you know you will be transferring to another institution. IFSS will work with the other institution to release your record in SEVIS. This process can take significant time so please notify IFSS as soon as possible. Transfers to other departments on the UW–Madison campus are also possible.  Again, please notify IFSS as soon as possible and before you start working with the other UW-Madison department.

Change of Non-Immigrant Status

New employment opportunities and changes to your current employment may require a change of immigration status. Consult your J-1 specialist before making any changes to your program. Some changes are not permitted by your J-1 status.

Filing an application to change to another nonimmigrant status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires time to process. Talk to IFSS for a current estimate of processing times. Individual circumstances may influence procedures and processing times, so it is important to discuss plans with an J-1 specialist in detail as early as possible.

Please note that if you are subject to the 212(e) two-year home residence requirement, you will not be able to change your status within the U.S.  You must change your status by international travel. If you change your status, please let IFSS know as soon as possible.

Add/remove a J-2 Dependent During your Program

If you need to add or remove a J-2 dependent (legally married spouse and/or unmarried children under 21 years old) during your program, please submit a request via Terra Dotta.

You will be required to have approved health insurance for your J-2 dependents as well.

For more information, refer to these guides:

Add a New Dependent

Remove a Dependent

State Department Incident Reporting

Your safety and wellbeing is important to us. If at any time during your program you are impacted by a serious illness, hospitalization, or involvement with the police, please notify IFSS. We will work with the DOS to connect you with the appropriate resources to help you navigate living in the U.S. during your time here at UW-Madison.

Share your Ideas

We value the input of our international staff and scholars. If you have an idea for an event or informational session you would like IFSS to host, submit your idea below.

Submit your ideas here!

Before your program comes to an end, please review our End of Program page to complete the necessary tasks before you depart the U.S.