UKIC / International Student & Scholar Services / Hiring International Faculty & Staff / Inviting J-1 Exchange Visitors

Inviting J-1 Exchange Visitors

University departments wishing to invite J-1 Exchange Visitors should follow the steps below.  

If this is your department’s first time inviting or hiring a J-1 Exchange Visitor, please request access to our immigration software system, iCAT. To request permission, please follow instructions at Request Access Instructions. Department and/or college requests will continue to be limited to those who have been pre-approved and vetted through appropriate department channels.  Permission will be limited to no more than two people per department.  

Please note that the International Scholar and Student Services office (ISSS) will assess a fee, click here for more information. 


Step 1: Determine the Start Date of J-1 Status

Please keep in mind that the requested start should be at least 60 days in the future at the time that the DS-2019 is created. It can take varying lengths of time to complete the application process.  Departments must consider the following factors in deciding a reasonable start date:  

  • An employee’s personal or work-related travel itineraries (employees should inform departments as soon as possible). 
  • Expiration of current visa status, gaps in current work authorization including an employee changing to J-1 status or “transferring” a current J-1 visa.  
  • Potential delays due to administrative processing by the U.S. Embassies in adjudicating the visa. 
  • Hiring or selection dates which will not allow enough time for visa appointments. 
  • Pre-filing preparation and processing times required for ISSS (typically 2-3 weeks). 
  • Programs should not begin on official university holidays or closures (eg. Winter Break, Independence Day, etc.). 

Many of above factors are out of the control of ISSS. Therefore, departments must allow ample time to complete the J-1 visa process given all possible factors. ISSS is unable to process incomplete requests. 

To comply with university policy, departments should also inform their candidates that obtaining J-1 status on their behalf does not obligate the university to sponsor the employee for H-1B. Such sponsorship is left to the discretion of hiring officials. 

Step 2: Review Financial Requirements

Funding must be secured for the entirety of the initial period requested.  The minimum funding required is: 

  • J-1 Exchange Visitor only is $1,834/month or $22,000/year 
  • J-2 Spouse is an additional $567/month or $6,800/year 
  • J-2 Child (per Child) is an additional $392/month or $4,700/year 

Documentation of funding must be provided for all sources outside of UK departmental funding. English translations and a currency conversion sheet (we recommend taking a screenshot from must be uploaded into iCAT along with the original funding document if it is in a language other than English or a currency other than USD.


Step 3: Obtain Personal Data Information

When submitting your application, you will need to know: 

  • If the EV has previously entered the USA as a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor 
  • The EVs citizenship information (including citizenship, nationality, and city of birth) 
  •  If the Exchange Visitor will be bringing a spouse or any children with them as dependents 

Copies of passports will need to be uploaded to iCAT for the Exchange Visitor and any dependents. A marriage certificate is required if the Exchange Visitor will bring a spouse. 

Step 4: Determine English Proficiency

Determine that the candidate has sufficient English skills (including verbal communication) to undertake your program objectives. According to 22 CFR 62.10(a)(2) UK needs to attest that “the exchange visitor possesses sufficient proficiency in the English language, as determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency, successfully to participate in his or her program and to function on a day-to-day basis.” 

ISSS generally accepts TOEFL/IETLS test scores and personal interviews (in-person, via phone, via skype, etc.) as proof of this requirement.   

Step 5: Submit the “Exchange Visitor Start Point” e-form in iCAT

To determine the correct J-1 Category for the prospective Exchange Visitor, departments must first complete the Exchange Visitor Start Point e-form

After the department has submitted the Exchange Visitor Start Point e-form and the e-form has been approved, ISSS will contact the department administrator regarding which  final application to submit based on the determined J-1 Category (J-1 Scholar, J-1 Student Non-Degree, or J-1 Student Intern).  Departments must first complete the Exchange Visitor Start Point e-form and be notified of the appropriate J-1 Category application to complete prior to starting the final forms. 

Department Responsibilities For Inviting A J-1 Exchange Visitor

The following guidelines are required by the U.S. Department of State for anyone agreeing to sponsor a J-1 exchange visitor.  

*Department is responsible for the processing fee assessed by the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). The fee may be covered either by the department of the J-1 Exchange Visitor or the exchange visitor, but payment must be processed through a JV prepared by ISSS.  

*Department must make provisions for adequate office space, laboratory facilities, and health coverage for the exchange visitor as applicable or required. 

*Department understands that the Office of International Student and Scholar Services will include information about housing in the pre-arrival packet but does not provide housing services.  The sponsoring department should also discuss housing arrangements with the exchange visitor prior to arrival. Information is available through the UK Graduate and Family Housing office and through the Off-Campus Housing website.

*Department understands that federal law restricts the sharing of certain technologies and software with foreign nationals. These rules are complex and substantial penalties may be imposed for violations. If the J-1 scholar may have access to export controlled technology or software controlled by federal law, the department should contact the UK Office of Sponsored Projects Administration, (OSPA) to ensure that all applicable requirements are met.

*Department certifies the program is not designed to recruit and train international scholars for regular employment in the United States.

*Department certifies the exchange visitor will not displace full-time, part-time, temporary or permanent American workers or serve to file a labor need. The position the department offers exists solely to assist the participant in achieving the objectives in an exchange program.

*Department is responsible for abiding by all applicable federal, state, and local city labor and wage laws, including requirements for Workers Compensation (as applicable for paid internships or exchanges).

*Department will be sure that scholar maintains residency in Kentucky during J status at UK. If scholar is expected to work on a collaborative project with UK at another US institution, contact J immigration specialist for instructions.

Reporting Incidents

Per [22 CFR 62.13(d)], All Departments/Hosts are required to report incidents involving J-1 exchange visitors that have or could endanger the health, safety, or welfare of an exchange visitor or otherwise could be expected to bring the Department of State, the Exchange Visitor Program, or the sponsor’s exchange visitor program into notoriety or disrepute.  Examples include, but are not limited to exchange visitor’s death, exchange visitor missing, exchange visitor serious illness or injury, incident involving the criminal justice system, sexually-related incidents or abuse, negative press involving a sponsor’s exchange visitor program, litigation, foreign government involvement, lost or stolen passports, violations of export control, intellectual property theft, and other situations.  Should an incident occur, please contact Marc K. Invergo at or call 859-257-8776 as soon as possible.

UK Policy Regarding Changes of Status to H1-B

The University of Kentucky has determined that J-1 visa holders are expected to remain in this status for a minimum of two years before the University will sponsor a change of status to H-1B. This requirement is a UK policy, not an immigration regulation. It does not apply in cases where a tenure-track faculty position is being sought with a change of status to H-1B or  O-1 status.


Departments wishing to extend the stay of an Exchange Visitor should submit the "J-1 Scholar Extension" form in iCATat least 30 days in advance of the Exchange Visitor’s DS-2019 expiring. 

Information to be included in request: 

  • JV Account Number for the processing fee.  See for the processing fee.
    • International Student & Scholar Services charges a fee for the processing of a DS-2019 Certificate of 
    • Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status for all J categories, except J-1 students. This fee maybe paid either by the department or the J-1 Exchange Visitor, but payment must be processed through a JV.  (Note:Fees cannot be charged to grants.) 
  • Ending date of extension 
  • Funding amount 
    • Funding must be guaranteed for the specified period of time. It is possible to give an extension for short periods as funding allows. 
  • Funding source 
    • If the funding source is UK, specify the name of the grant. 
    • Other sources must be verified by a statement from the sponsoring organization or bank. 
  • Proof of continued health insurance (including J-2 dependents, if applicable) 
    • If covered by UK-HMO, include a copy of the computer print-out verifying coverage of SOS(Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Insurance). 
    • If covered by Humana insurance, include a copy of an updated E-mail from Humana with the confirmation number. 
    • If other insurance, the Exchange Visitor must complete a form verifying that the coverage meets the UK requirements

PDF icon J-1 Exchange Visitor Invitation Letter