The J-1 Exchange Visitor
The United States Department of State (DOS) operates the Exchange Visitor program to facilitate educational and cultural exchange activities in order to develop and promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries of the world. Since its inception in 1948, the Exchange Visitor Program has exposed millions of foreign visitors to the United States; its culture, philosophy, business techniques, and educational institutions. Specific cultural and educational activities are carried on by a large number of sponsoring agencies that are approved by DOS to conduct programs for exchange visitors.
Texas Tech University, like many leading educational institutions, sponsors educational and research programs for students, researchers, professors, short-term scholars and specialists under the Exchange Visitor Program. Although in all cases there are teaching, research, study, or scholarly exchange objectives in the University's programs, the underlying goal in all Exchange Visitor Programs is the enhancement of international mutual understanding. The Texas Tech J-1 program is not the only source of J-1 visitors on campus. Students and scholars who are sponsored by the exchange visitor program of governmental and private agencies (e.g., the Agency for International Development, or the Institute for International Education) may be placed at Texas Tech.
The only form needed to obtain a J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate is the Form DS-2019 issued by the program sponsor. At Texas Tech, the Office of International Affairs issues these forms to qualified applicants. The DS-2019 indicates in some detail the academic objective to be pursued and the source and amount of the exchange visitor's funding. The visa applicant should also have documentation of financial support and evidence of intent to return home after completing the J-1 program. It is important to note that exchange visitors generally may not change their academic objectives or visitor category while in the United States. Transfer from one institution to another is usually permitted if the academic objective and visitor category remains essentially unchanged, provided that the alien is still within the overall time limit for the category.
The J-1 status of a student can be extended through the completion of the student's degree program. Scholars are, however, limited to specific maximum periods. Professors and researchers are limited to five years. Professors and Research Scholars are barred from beginning a new Professor or Research Scholar program for two years following the completion of a program. "Short-term scholars" are limited to a maximum of six months and are not allowed to extend beyond initial periods of stay. Specialists are limited to a maximum period of one year.