J-1 Scholars

B-prearrival-scholars

Welcome to Georgetown University! This site contains pre-arrival information compiled by the Office of Global Services (OGS) to assist you with your move to Georgetown.

The goal of Georgetown University's J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is to promote cultural and educational exchange between international and domestic students, faculty, staff and community members as well as to promote greater diversity and international awareness within the University community.

Components of this program include:

  • Educational, research and teaching activities, 
  • Orientation,
  • Cultural exchange programming (such as Language Exchange Program, Global Expo),
  • Cultural adjustment support,
  • Logistical support, and
  • Immigration advising.

Please also visit the U.S. Department of State’s website and their Exchange Visitor Program Welcome brochure.

visa application

Your DS‐2019 Form, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J‐1) Status, indicates that Georgetown University will sponsor your immigration status in the United States. Please read the instructions on page 2 of the form and sign the Exchange Visitor Certification on page 1.

Prior to applying for your visa, you will need to pay a one‐time Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee. This fee is assessed in addition to the visa application fee. J‐2 dependents are not subject to the SEVIS fee.

To pay the SEVIS fee, visit www.fmjfee.com and complete Form I‐901. Be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your DS‐2019 Form and print your receipt for inclusion with your visa application. Your SEVIS Identification Number can be found at the top right corner of your DS‐2019 Form. It starts with an “N". The Program Number can be found in Box 2 of your DS-2019 Form (P‐1‐01850).  It is recommended that you carry the payment receipt with your DS‐2019 Form to show to the immigration officials at the port of entry as well.

Following payment of the SEVIS fee, you will need to complete the DS‐160 visa application form and schedule an appointment at the U.S. Consulate for a visa interview. When you go to your visa interview, take the DS‐2019 Form, the SEVIS fee payment receipt, your passport, and any correspondence received from Georgetown University regarding your stay. If you will not be financially supported by Georgetown University or if Georgetown is only providing a portion of your financial support, you must be prepared to show the Visa Officer proof of your financial support in the form of original documents. If your family members will be traveling with you, they should apply for their J‐2 visas at the same time. If OGS has not already issued separate DS‐2019 Forms for them, please notify your OGS Immigration Advisor as dependents must have their own DS‐2019 Forms. Please contact the U.S. Consulate nearest you for information regarding the application procedures and fees (http://usembassy.state.gov/).

Intent to Return: To obtain your J‐1 visa, you must demonstrate to the U.S. Consular Officer that you intend to return to your country of citizenship or legal permanent residence after you have completed your J‐1 program. Any statements made during the visa interview which cast doubt on your intentions of returning home may result in the denial of the visa. Although some consulates permit applications from third-party nationals, it may be difficult to prove your non‐immigrant intent if you do not apply for a visa in your home country.

travel to the united states

Once your visa is granted, you may enter the United States up to 30 days prior to the start date on your DS‐2019 Form. At the U.S. port of entry, you will be asked to present your DS‐2019 Form, passport, and J-1 visa to the U.S. Immigration Inspector. Your passport should be stamped with the date of entry and "J-1 D/S". These markings indicate that you have entered in J‐1 status (or J‐2 status for your accompanying dependents) for the duration of your status. After arrival, you should also visit https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home to print out your Form I-94. This is the proof of your J-1 status in the United States. If you intend to arrive by land (from Mexico or Canada), you must schedule and pay the I-94 fee in advance of your arrival to the border. You can do this here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home

If you will arrive later than the start date on your DS-2019 Form, please e-mail your OGS Immigration Advisor with the date you plan to arrive so that she can amend the start date to allow you to arrive later.

In addition to your immigration‐related documents, we also advise that you may want to bring certified copies of the following documents:

  • Birth certificates for yourself and each member of your family.
  • Marriage certificate, if you are married.
  • Copies of diplomas and/or professional licenses with English translations.
  • Copies of vaccination records for any children who will attend school.

Scholar Orientation

You are required to attend a J-1 Scholar Orientation within 30 days of the start date of the DS‐2019 Form. Orientations are held every Tuesday from 10:00‐11:00 am at OGS in the Car Barn, located at 3520 Prospect St., NW, Suite 210. Please try to attend the Tuesday session following your arrival. You should bring your passport and DS-2019 Form to this meeting as well these same documents for any dependents. You should also bring proof of health insurance to orientation. Topics covered in the orientation include regulations governing J‐1 visa status, Social Security Numbers, work, travel, health insurance and living in Washington. Please make plans to arrive on time as the session must cover many topics in a short period of time.

OGS must register your arrival within 30 days of the start date of your DS‐2019 Form in order for you to remain legally in the United States. You must attend a J-1 orientation in order for your arrival to be registered.  If you will arrive later than expected, please notify your OGS Immigration Advisor by e-mail.

You also must attend the orientation before applying for a Social Security Number (SSN).

Please note: if you intend to travel outside of the United States after your arrival, you will need to obtain your OGS Immigration Advisor’s signature on the DS‐2019 Form in order to re‐enter the United States. This is done at orientation.

Mandatory Health Insurance

Federal regulations require J-1 Exchange Visitors to obtain health insurance for themselves and any J-2 dependents for the entire length of stay in the United States.  Georgetown requires all scholars to certify insurance coverage upon arrival in the United States. The requirements are:

You and any dependents in J-2 status must have health insurance for the entire period of stay.
The minimum requirement for coverage is at least $100,000 per accident or illness.
Insurance coverage for medical evacuation is required with a $50,000 minimum.  This is used in the unlikely event that you or a family member must return to your home country for medical treatment.
Insurance coverage for repatriation of remains is required with a $25,000 minimum.  This is used in the event that you or a family member should die in the United States and the remains must be returned to your country.
The maximum deductible on the health insurance may not exceed $500 per accident or illness.

Insurance policies secured to fulfill the requirements of this section may require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions that is reasonable as determined by current industry standards; May include provisions for co-insurance under the terms of which the exchange visitor may be required to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness; and must not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which the exchange visitor participates.  Any policy, plan, or contract secured to fill the above requirements must, at a minimum, be underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of “A-” or above; a McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of “A-” or above; a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above; a Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of “A-” or above; a Moody’s Investor Services rating of “A3” or above; or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify; or backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor’s home country; or part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor; or offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization or eligible Competitive Medical Plan as determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

You may use insurance coverage from your home country if it meets these criteria.  If you choose to purchase insurance after your arrival at Georgetown, information on insurance plans is available on our Health Insurance Website. Since insurance obtained in the United States after your arrival may not cover you right away, it is recommended that you obtain sufficient travel insurance to cover you during your first month at Georgetown.  

Please make sure that any coverage you choose meets the requirements outlined above as well as your medical needs.  You may wish to verify that the insurance policy covers the birth of children as well as mental health services. Living in another country can be stressful, so it is a good idea to have insurance that also covers mental health services.  Note: If you will not be paid by Georgetown and you or your spouse is pregnant, you are advised to purchase health insurance in your home country. Most insurance companies in the United States consider pregnancy a pre-existing condition and will not cover the related expenses if you or your spouse is pregnant upon arrival in the United States.

If you will be in a full-time paid position, you may be eligible to participate in one of the insurance plans offered by the University for its employees.  If you wish to sign up for one of these insurance plans, you must do so within 60 days of beginning work. Benefits begin on the 1st of the month. If you are not starting on the 1st, you will need to purchase temporary insurance until you can be covered under Georgetown insurance.  The Georgetown University insurance plans offered to paid employees meet the requirements outlined above, except for the CareFirst BlueChoice Advantage CDHP with HSA plan. 

Affordable Care Act Requirements

The Affordable Care Act mandates that all individuals who are considered U.S. residents for tax purposes (as defined by the IRS) carry adequate health insurance coverage. Most J-1 scholars are considered nonresidents and are not subject to the mandate. In general, J-1 scholars are considered nonresidents if they have been in the United States for less than 2 calendar years.  It is the responsibility of the scholar to determine whether or not they are subject to the mandate. Georgetown University health insurance offered to employees satisfies the Affordable Care Act minimum coverage requirements.

For more information, including options, visit our Health Insurance website.

I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form

If you will be employed at Georgetown, you must complete an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form on your 1st day of employment. If you will work on the Main Campus, complete an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form in Human Resources on your 1st day of employment. For Main Campus employees, it is best to set up an appointment by e-mailing i-9@georgetown.edu.  If you will work at the Medical Center, Law Center or University Services, you should do this with your Department on your 1st day of work.

restrictions/obligations of j-1 status

By entering the country in J‐1 visa status, you accept the responsibility of meeting the terms and conditions stated on the DS‐2019 Form. You will be admitted into the United States for the sole purpose stated in section 4 of the DS‐2019. Please notify OGS if any of the following occur:

  • the source of your funding changes
  • the nature of the work you are doing changes
  • the end date of your work changes
  • your sponsoring institution changes
  • your U.S. address, telephone number or e-mail address changes (must be reported within 10 days of the change)
  • your J-2 dependents will depart the United States before you (and not return in J-2 status)

Failure to notify OGS of any of these changes may invalidate your immigration status and affect your legal permission to stay in the United States.

The following rules should be given consideration prior to participation:

1) The Professor and Research Scholar categories limit participation to five years in the United States in J‐1 status. The Short‐term Scholar category is limited to six months. The Specialist category has a limit of one year.
2) Participants in the J‐1 Research Scholar or Professor categories are subject to a 24-month bar on repeat participation in either category, regardless of the length of time spent in J‐1 status.
3) Participants in J‐1 Exchange Visitor categories other than Research Scholar, Professor or Short‐Term Scholar are subject to a 12-month bar before beginning a new J‐1 program in the Professor and Research Scholar categories. Exception: A J‐1 Exchange Visitor in any category other than the three listed above who remained in the United States for less than six months is not subject to the 12-month bar.

work regulations

All scholars in J‐1 visa status sponsored by Georgetown University must understand and abide by the laws governing this particular non-immigrant status. Please make an appointment to speak with your OGS Immigration Advisor or submit your query to her via e-mail any time employment opportunities arise. In order to maintain your legal status in the United States, it is important to consult an expert on all matters of payment, reimbursement, and employment. The information listed below is only a general guide.

Non‐immigrants holding a DS‐2019 Form that was issued by Georgetown University may teach or do research only in the field or area listed in box 4 of the DS‐2019 and only for Georgetown University. Any payment received from Georgetown University that is in an unrelated field or that was not authorized in advance would be considered unauthorized employment. The Visiting Researcher program does not allow its participating researchers to receive payment of any kind from Georgetown University. Any payment received from an outside entity (even if the work is performed on the Georgetown campus) is unauthorized employment unless you are granted specific, written permission from an OGS Immigration Advisor. It is the responsibility of all non‐immigrants in the United States to know and follow immigration regulations related to employment. The responsibility of accepting any type of employment that does not meet regulatory requirements, even if offered by a Georgetown University department or faculty member, will fall solely on the J‐1 visiting scholar.

According to the regulations governing the J‐1 visa status, Professors and Research Scholars may participate in occasional lectures and short‐term consultations outside of Georgetown University if allowed by the Responsible Officer of the J‐1 program at Georgetown. More details on this type of authorization can be found here

know your rights

If you will work in the United States under the terms of your J-1 visa status, it is important for you to know your rights.  Please review the Wilberforce Pamphlet on the Rights and Protections for Temporary Workers.

the two-year home residence requirement

Individuals in J‐1 and J‐2 status will be subject to the two‐year home residence requirement [also known as 212(e)] if any of the following apply:

1) Participation in the exchange program is financed, directly or indirectly, by the U.S. government or a foreign government;
2) The skills the Exchange Visitor is coming to develop or exercise are in a field which the Exchange Visitor’s home government requested be included on the State Department’s skills list (skills in short supply in the home country);
3) The Exchange Visitor comes to the United States to receive graduate medical education or training.

Those who are subject must return to their home country for two years before they are eligible for the more permanent visa categories (H‐1B temporary worker, L‐1 intra‐company transfer, and Legal Permanent Resident status). It also prohibits subject individuals from requesting a change in immigration status from within the United States. At the time of the visa interview, the Consular Officer will indicate whether or not a prospective J‐1 is subject to this requirement, both on the DS‐2019 Form and on the visa stamp.

taxes

U.S. tax laws require that approximately 30% of the U.S.‐based income be withheld in the form of taxes. You may, however, reduce this tax burden by taking advantage of certain tax benefits to which your J‐1 status may entitle you.

If you will be paid by Georgetown, once you are in the GMS Human Resources system, you should set up your tax withholding by completing the Tax Office Google form and following their instructions for submitting your documents.   E-mail any questions to taxdepartment@georgetown.edu.   

All J‐1 scholars will be required to complete at least one tax form by April of the next year, whether or not they have received U.S. source income. Visit our website in February for details.

social security numbers

In order to work in the United States, you must apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). All individuals in J‐1 status are eligible to apply for an SSN even if they are not currently employed in the United States. This number serves as your unique taxpayer identification number. You can apply for an SSN after you have attended J‐1 scholar orientation. 

banking & living expenses

Washington, D.C. is one of the most expensive areas in the United States.  Please note that the funds that you were required to show to obtain your DS-2019 Form(s) represent the bare minimum of funding needed to support you and any dependents during your stay and do not allow for any luxuries.

For information on banks in the Georgetown area, please see http://internationalservices.georgetown.edu/money/.

housing

Due to space limitations, Georgetown does not offer on-campus housing for scholars.  We recommend that you DO NOT enter into a contract with any landlord for housing before arriving and viewing the property. However, it is helpful to begin to think about your budget and research properties before you arrive. 
 
The University maintains an Off-Campus Housing listing that may aid scholars in their search for housing. Scholars may visit their website prior to arrival to research prices and locations in the D.C. area.  Upon your arrival at Georgetown, you can visit the Office of Neighborhood Life is located at 1300 36th Street.
 
Additional links to housing search tools as well as tips on finding housing are available on our website.

transportation & arrival

Detailed information about Washington, D.C. transportation options and additional arrival information are both available here.