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Scholar Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Important Disclaimer: As an international exchange visitor scholar, the maintenance of your legal status is ultimately your responsibility. It is your responsibility to understand and follow the rules and regulations that govern your status and visa (e.g., 8 CFR § 214.2(f)). The Office of Global Engagement (“GE”) and International Student & Scholar Services provide support and information related to U.S. immigration laws and regulations related to F and J status at Utah State University but are not ultimately responsible for your status and visa. GE and ISSS staff are not attorneys and any information provided by GE and ISSS should not be construed as legal advice. Individuals are welcome to consult a qualified immigration attorney for specific legal advice, particularly in complicated cases.

U.S. Department of State's Common Questions for J-1 visa recipients

What do I need to conduct collaborative work at Utah State University (USU)?
You will need to enter the USA on the J-1 visa to engage in collaborative activities at USU. The Office of Global Engagement will issue the Form DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility needed to apply for the J visa. 

How can I obtain the Form DS-2019 to apply for the J-1 visa for my program at USU?
The USU faculty host must submit a request for the Form DS-2019 per the instructions on the Office of Global Engagement's website, "Hosting a Visiting Scholar". 

Short-Term Scholar Category
This category has a maximum program duration of 6 months. We use this category for programs < 6 months as it allows for flexibility for future programs on the J-1 visa. Be sure to let us know at exchangevisitors@usu.edu if there is a possibility of extending your program in the USA for > 6 months. 

Research Scholar Category
This category has a minimum program duration of 3 weeks, and a maximum program duration of 5 years. We do not use this for programs < 6 months, unless there is the intent to extend the program beyond 6 months. The research scholar category imposes a 24-month bar on repeat participation in this same category. This means you cannot participate in another J-visa program in the research scholar or professor categories until 24-months after the end of your original research scholar/ professor program. This 24-month bar is separate from the 212(e) 2-year physical presence requirement. The research scholar and professor categories also come with a 12-month bar. You cannot participate in a J-visa program in these categories if you have been part of a J-visa program in the past 12 months, unless the program was < 6 months. 

How much funding am I required to show for a DS-2019?
  • You will be required to show a minimum of $2,000 per month of your program for the entire duration of your program.
    • If you are bringing a dependent with you it will cost you an additional $5,573 per year for a spouse, and an additional $3,413 per year for each child.
  • Acceptable forms of financial proof (must be < 1 year old by program start date):
    • Bank statements and bank letters on bank letterhead from a sponsor’s checking or saving account showing a specific amount of available funds and type of currency, also clearly stating the name of the person who is the account holder;
    • Scholarships and student loans on the issuing authority’s letterhead stating the issuing person or organization, listing the recipient and period of time for which the funding applies, and amount of funding. The scholarship letter should clearly state circumstances that would allow the funding to be received, extended, and reviewed for future academic periods.
    • Income statements/ Letters of employment on company/ institution letterhead with a promise to continue through the program period.
You will need to provide a financial affidavit of support if someone else is pledging funds to support your program (e.g. family members).

You will not make a payment of these funds to USU. Federal regulations require us to assure you have sufficient funds to be able to pay for expected expenses associated with your time in the USA. The amount of funding required is the average cost of living in the Logan City area for a single individual. It may cost you more to live here depending on the housing arrangements you make and the choices you make for meals and personal expenses.
 
You are responsible to make all arrangements for your stay in the USA, including housing and transportation. The Office of Global Engagement provides information to assist you with these matters when issuing the Form DS-2019. Your USU faculty host may also help you

What is a bench fee, and does USU charge a bench fee?
A bench fee is a charge by an institution to host a visiting scholar. USU does not charge a bench fee as an institution to visiting scholars. The department may charge a bench fee to cover cost of materials used in the lab, etc. 
Refer to the information in the email provided to you when the Form DS-2019 was issued, along with the information in the packet accompanying your Form DS-2019.

Visa Information, including instructions on how to apply for the J visa. 
Exchange Visitor (J-1) Visa

What should I do if I cannot start my program at the time indicated on my Form DS-2019?
Your faculty host needs to send an email to exchangevisitors@usu.edu requesting a change to your program dates. They need to specify the exact new program start date and the exact program end date. 

What is the 212(e) restriction?
The 212(e) restriction requires you to spend a total of 2 years in your home country before the USA will issue an immigrant visa (e.g. H-1B employment visa, other visa types with a pathway to permanent residency). This 2-year restriction does not apply if you want to return to the USA on a non-immigrant visa (e.g. B-2 tourist, another J-1 visa program, etc.). The two-year home country physical presence requirement is explained on the reverse side of the Form DS-2019.

The consular officer determines if an individual is subject to the 212(e) requirement based on the funding source for the program and the Exchange Visitor Skills List. 

More information about the 212(e) physical presence requirement can be found on this website
Do my dependents have to enter the USA on the J-2 visa?
No. Dependents are not obligated to apply for the J-2 visa. ​They also have the right to choose not to complete the application for the J-2 visa, if they begin the process.  

Dependents can choose to enter the USA on the J-2 dependent visa or another visa type (e.g. B-2 tourist visa). Keep in mind, the visa used to enter the country determines what activities an individual may engage in while in the USA. It may also limit the time an individual is present in the USA. Also, the Customs & Border Patrol official determines if they will admit an individual in the status requested upon entry.


Does my dependent spouse/ child have to arrive in the USA with me at the start of my program?
No. The J-2 dependent is not required to be physically present in the USA with the J-1 primary. We do encourage you to obtain a travel signature from our office on a Form DS-2019 for your dependent if they will arrive later. Your SEVIS record will be in active status, and the Customs & Border Patrol official may expect to see the travel signature.

Also, we can add dependents to your SEVIS record at any time when it is in "Initial" or "Active" status.


Does my dependent spouse/ child have to remain in the USA for the duration of my program?
No. The J-2 dependent can travel at will. They are not limited to the 30-day restriction on travel requirement for the J-1 primary. 

Can my J-2 dependent work?
They will need to apply to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) permission to work. They should not begin employment until they receive the EAD card. Your primary immigration advisor can guide you through the EAD application process. 

Can I get the Form DS-2019 for my fiancée?
No. We can only issue the Form DS-2019 for your legal spouse/ dependent children. 

Can I get a Form DS-2019 for my parents?
No. USU is authorized only to sponsor legal spouses and dependent children (under the age of 21 years). 

What do I need to travel outside the USA?
Be sure to submit the "Travel Signature" request in the Scholar Portal - even if you have a valid travel signature. This serves as documentation of your leave during your program.
 
  • A valid travel signature on your Form DS-2019
    • < 1 year old by the time you re-enter the USA (< 6 months for short-term scholars)
    • Need a new travel signature? Request this through the Scholar Portal. Be sure to request the travel signature in advance.  
How much earlier than my program start date can I enter the USA?
You can enter the USA up to 30 days before your program end date.

How much later after my program start date can I enter the USA? 
We are required to validate you have entered the country and reported to our campus within 30 days of your program start date. Otherwise, your SEVIS record becomes inactive. 
  • If you need to defer your program start date: Your faculty host needs to send an email to exchangevisitors@usu.edu requesting a change to your program dates. They need to specify the exact new program start date and the exact program end date. 

When do I need to check-in with the Office of Global Engagement?
  • As soon as possible after arriving to the USU campus. You must check-in online through the Scholar Portal by completing the "Submit Arrival Documentation" request and then meet with the Responsible Officer for the mandatory orientation.
    •  The mandatory arrival orientation is required to validate your program and is held Thursdays at 10:00 AM, or you can schedule an appointment here.
Exchange Visitor Program Welcome Brochure
Be aware: USU Housing does NOT have housing space allotted for visiting scholars at this time. Only students enrolled in at least 6 credits each semester are eligible to stay in USU Housing. 

Additional Places to Search for Housing 
This list is provided as an informational resource to students, but we cannot confirm or guarantee the accuracy of any information, or the availability of the properties found through these resources. The apartments associated with these resources are not owned, operated or endorsed by Utah State University. Students are responsible for all due diligence before signing contracts or agreements with off-campus properties. 

Facebook Group: Utah State University (USU) Housing, Sublets & Roommates

Facebook Group: Logan Homes for Sale or Rent

Facebook Group: USU Apartments, Rooms, Sublets - Logan, UT

Facebook Group: Utah Homes for Rent or Sale

Facebook Group: Cache Valley Homes & Apartments for Rent

KSL Marketplace

RentCollegePads - Logan Apartment-Finding Tool
This is an online tool to help new incoming students search for housing in Logan that matches their needs. If you would like to use this tool, visit RentCollegePads.

Verified Property Management Agencies
The following list of online housing websites can be confidently used to locate appropriate off-campus housing:
- Catalyst Property Management
- Coldwell Banker Property Management
- Logan Preferred Property Management
- Apartment Guide Property Management

Trusted Classified Websites
- Utah College Housing Classifieds

Another resource is through social media groups:
International Students at USU: https://www.facebook.com/groups/USUinternationalstudents/
USU International Student Council: https://www.facebook.com/USUISC/?fref=ts
 

https://www.usu.edu/global-engagement/visiting-scholars/j1-insurance-requirements

All J-1 visa holders are required by law to be insured the entire duration of their program regardless of whether or not they are physically present in the United States. Their J-2 visa dependents must also have the requisite insurance any time they are in the USA.

Minimum coverage must provide:
- Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
- Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
- Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of exchange visitors to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
- Deductibles not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

Please note: The benefits offered to employees of Utah State University do not provide the full coverage required to maintain the J-1 visa status. The High Premium (Blue) plan meets the $500 deductible required for the J-1 visa insurance. The exchange visitor must also purchase an additional plan from an outside vendor to provide the required minimum coverage of $25,000 for repatriation of remains and $50,000 for medical evacuation.

One option for supplemental insurance for medical evacuation and/or repatriation of remains is Betins (866-552-8834).

Insurance plans which MAY meet the J-1 Visa insurance requirement: 
- Meridian
- HCC Atlas
- Seven Corners
- Visit Insurance
- ISO International Student Insurance
- International Student Insurance
- Student Secure
- iNext International Insurance
  Do I need to purchase the required insurance before my visa interview?
  No, you only need it when you are in the USA. You should wait until after you have the visa and made your travel plans to purchase the required insurance for the   J visa. 
 
  Should I purchase the required insurance before I travel to the USA?
  Yes, you should purchase the required insurance/ supplemental insurance before you travel to the USA. This will protect you for any injuries or illnesses you incur    upon arrival in the USA. Healthcare in the USA is expensive and can cost thousands of dollars. 
 
  Am I eligible for the insurance offered by USU?
  You are only eligible for this if the department employs you in a benefitted position. The department’s Business Services personnel can provide you with       information about the process to enroll in the USU insurance, along with other employee onboarding processes. You can also find information on the Human   Resources’ websites:
    A supplemental insurance is required for the USU insurance as it does not provide all of the coverage required for the J visa (see this website for more     information). Betins offers one such supplemental insurance, and costs ~US$24/ 6 months. 
 
What do I need to travel outside the USA?
Be sure to submit the "Travel Signature" request in the Scholar Portal - even if you have a valid travel signature. This serves as documentation of your leave during your program.
 
  • A valid travel signature on your Form DS-2019
    • < 1 year old by the time you re-enter the USA (< 6 months for short-term scholars)
    • Need a new travel signature? Request this through the Scholar Portal. Be sure to request the travel signature in advance.
  • Program end date on the Form DS-2019 is a future date.
    • Your SEVIS record needs to be active regardless of the dates on these documents.
  • Passport and visa with end date beyond the time you will re-enter the U.S.A. 
    • Assure the visa has “M” marked under “Entries” as this allows for multiple entries. “S” indicates a single (one-time) entry on the visa. 
 
  • A printed copy of your letter of invitation or a letter from your faculty host indicating they are aware of your travels and you will return to the USA to continue with your program objectives.
    • The Customs and Border Patrol agency informed us border patrol officials do not want to see images on a phone or other electronic device.
​​Be sure to hand-carry these items and not put them in your checked baggage. 

Download your new Form I-94 after you return. Upload this to the Scholar Portal through the "General Document Upload" request for us to assure you are admitted in the correct visa status (do not email to protect personally identifiable information). 

How long can I travel or take a leave of absence for personal purposes?
  • No more than 30 days at a time.
​You may travel for a longer period of time if you will be working on program objectives. You must report this travel to the Responsible Officer in the Office of Global Engagement, who is required to update your SEVIS record.
  • If traveling for work outside the USA: Submit the "EV Out of Country" request in the Scholar Portal
  • If traveling for work in the USA: Submit the "Add Site of Activity" request in the Scholar Portal 
What should I do if I am working in the field at a site not listed on my Form DS-2019?
Submit the "Add Site of Activity" request in the Scholar Portal. Be sure to report the address where you will physically reside while you are working in the field. We must report the field site and your updated address in SEVIS. 

Can I work remotely?
No. The U.S. Department of State expects exchange visitors to engage in activities in-person. This meets the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program's purpose to increase mutual understanding between the program participants
Can I accept employment as part of my exchange visitor program?
You may only accept employment with written authorization from the Responsible Officer in the Office of Global Engagement. Employment activities must be related to your program objectives. You may also engage in occasional lectures or consultation incidental to your program objectives, with written permission from the Responsible Officer. Submit the "Permission to Consult/ Lecture" request in the Scholar Portal to obtain permission to accept employment beyond what was granted for the initial Form DS-2019.

Can my J-2 dependent work?
They will need to apply to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) permission to work. They should not begin employment until they receive the EAD card. Your primary immigration advisor can guide you through the EAD application process. 

 

Do I have a university ID (A-number)?
The Office of Global Engagement creates the A-number when issuing the Form DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for the J-1 visa for a visiting scholar. We provide this number to the scholar when they check-in for the mandatory orientation.

Do I have access to USU's IT and library services? What about campus recreational facilities such as the gym or swimming pool?
Visiting scholars who are benefitted employees have access to these items as part of their employment benefits.

Departments may request such access for visiting scholars who are not benefitted employees. To do so,
the department representative (not Global Engagement) must submit the Visiting Scholars Fee Authorization Form to the Registrar’s Office (reg.specialfee@usu.edu).

- The Registrar’s Office will notify the department when they process the form.
- Visiting scholars will need to pay for the services at the Registrar’s Office (Taggart Student Center 246) if the department did not cover these fees.
- Visiting scholars can then go to the Card Office (Taggart Student Center 212) to obtain the ID card. They will take the visiting scholar's picture and issue the card.
 
Refer to the workflow on the bottom of the Visiting Scholars Fee Authorization Form.


Can I get a USU ID card?
You can obtain the ID card after the Registrar's Office processes the Visiting Scholar Fee Authorization Form
 
What facilities do I have access to if I pay for campus recreational services?
You will have access to the HPER and the Nelson Fieldhouse. You may also elect to pay a monthly membership fee for access to the Aggie Rec Center. You will pay the fee for guest passes if you want your dependents to access these services.

Why do I no longer have access to IT/ library services?
Remember, access ends at the end of the semester indicated on the fee authorization form the department submits to the Registrar's Office. The department representative must submit the Visiting Scholars Fee Authorization Form to the Registrar's Office (reg.specialfee@usu.edu) approving access for the new semester. 

How can I get assistance with accessing IT services?
Contact the USU IT Service Desk (see this website for ways to make this contact e.g. phone, online chat).
How can I engage in community events during my program at USU?
Below is a list of some resources and groups to guide you to ways to engage in the community. This is not a comprehensive list, and we encourage you to find a variety of ways to engage as this enhances your experience. 
  Also refer to the events and announcements included in the ISSS newsletter, which we send out periodically.
Can I extend my program end date? You may be able to extend your program if the extension does not exceed the maximum program duration limitation. Information on how to extend a current visiting scholar's program can be found on Global Engagement's Current Scholars website

Can I transfer to another institution?
You may be able to transfer your program if the extension does not exceed the maximum program duration limitation. Information on how to transfer a current visiting scholar's program can be found on Global Engagement's Current Scholars website

I scheduled my departure for the end of my program. Do I need to do anything with the Office of Global Engagement?
  • Complete the "Scholar Departure Request" in the Scholar Portal under the Requests tab. Be sure to submit a final "EVP Quarterly Report" request.
How long can I remain in the USA after my program end date? 
You are able to remain in the USA until the program end date, plus a 30-day grace period. You cannot participate in work during the grace period, but can travel and wrap-up personal affairs. 

Can I get a certificate of completion?
The Office of Global Engagement does not provide a certificate of completion. The Form DS-2019 serves as such for our responsibilities as sponsor. Ask your faculty host if the department can provide proof of completion e.g. a letter indicating the program objectives and activities you completed during your program at Utah State University.