During Your Program

Extension of your J-1 Program

It is your responsibility to be aware of 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 IFSS by your department prior to the expiration date on your DS-2019. Your host department must request any extensions.

If you have J-2 dependents with your program they will automatically be included in the extension and will receive extended DS-2019s as well.

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Extension Durations

Please note the following maximum program durations for specific J-1 categories:

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.

Travel: Domestic & International

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Travel within the U.S.

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.

Travel outside of the U.S.

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.

Travel Endorsements

A travel endorsement from an IFSS J-1 coordinator is required on the original DS-2019s of J-1s and J-2s who are travelling internationally with the intent to return to the U.S. during the J-1 program. This endorsement signature on your DS-2019 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 apply again with IFSS for another endorsement.

J-1 Visa Renewal

If your J-1 visa stamp has expired and you want to travel internationally, you must renew your expired 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 renew your 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.

Automatic Visa Renewal (AVR)

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

Other Program Requests and Requirements

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Change of Non-Immigrant Status

New offers of employment and changes in current employment may require a change of immigration status. Consult an IFSS immigration specialist before accepting changes in employment. Some changes are not permitted by your J-1 status.

Filing an application for a change to another non-immigrant status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will require 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 such plans with an IFSS J-1 coordinator 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 eligible for a change of status from within the U.S. with USCIS and instead will need to change status by travel. Please see the IFSS page on changing non-immigrant status. If you change your status, please let IFSS know as soon as possible.

Program Transfers

If you decide to continue your J-1 Program at another university or at another department at UW–Madison, you can transfer your program as long as certain conditions are met. You must continue in the same field of specialization and you must remain in the same category. Transfers from UW–Madison to another university must be initiated by IFSS.

Please contact IFSS as early as possible if a transfer of institutions will be necessary. 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.

Occasional Lectures and Consultations at other Universities

Participants in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program at UW–Madison in the Professor, Research Scholar or Short-Term Scholar category may be authorized by IFSS to engage in activities for payment in locations other than the UW–Madison. Some examples may be speaking at conferences or teaching a class. 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 in advance from IFSS before engaging in outside activities that will involve payments or honorariums such as those described above. Please consult an IFSS Advisor or further details in advance of participating in such an activity.


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 with your UW sponsoring department. Unauthorized employment may result in a violation of immigration regulations and loss of valid J-1 status.

Long-term employment may require a change of immigration status for continued employment eligibility. Please consult your IFSS advisor 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.

J-2 Dependents (Spouses and Children)

Your immediate family members (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) are eligible to enter and remain in the U.S. as J-2 dependents during your J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.

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Bringing your Family

To request a DS-2019 for a family member who wishes to apply for a J-2 dependent visa, please contact IFSS. You will need to present a copy of the biographical page of each dependent’s passport, a marriage certificate if you will bring a J-2 spouse (with translation if not in English), a birth certificate for any J-2 children (with translation if not in English), and proof of financial support to cover your family’s living expenses and health insurance.

Maintaining Status

J-2 dependent status is reliant upon your J-1 Exchange Visitor status. Therefore, you cannot exit the U.S. and leave your J-2 dependents in the U.S. for long periods of time. Once your J-1 program is complete or if your program is terminated, you and your dependents must exit the U.S. together.

J-2 Employment

J-2 dependents may apply for employment authorization through U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) after arriving in the United States. The J-2 cannot apply for work permission until they are in the U.S. Visit this page for application procedures and fees.

Once work permission is approved the J-2 will receive an Employment Authorization Card (EAD) which will allow them to begin work. The UW requires an EAD card even for unpaid positions in campus departments.

J-2 Study/Research

J-2 dependents may enroll in full-time or part-time study for the duration of your J-1 program.