All exchange students who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents must apply for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa sponsored by UConn to come to the U.S. as an exchange student. In order to apply for the J-1 visa, international exchange students must request a DS-2019 form through UConn International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).
Applying for J-1 Visa
Step 1- Request a DS-2019 Form through ISSS
You will need the following information to complete the request:
- UConn NetID and password
- Passport photo page– please make sure that your passport is valid at least 6 months into the future from the date of arrival.
- International Student Financial Declaration Form– make sure to complete and sign the form.
- Financial support documents demonstrating that you are able to pay for all estimated expenses at UConn.Please make sure financial documents are translated into English to ensure fast processing.
Step 2- Receive your DS-2019
Once ISSS receives all of your documents, they will start processing your DS-2019. ISSS will email you if you are missing anything on your application so make sure to check your email while you are waiting for your document.
Approximately 1-3 weeks after submitting a complete application, your DS-2019 will be mailed to your home address. Be sure to read all of the material that you will receive!
Step 3- Apply for your J-1 student visa
- Pay the SEVIS fee. Once you’ve received your DS-2019, you will need to pay a SEVIS fee to the US Department of Homeland Security. In order to pay, complete and submit the Form I-901 along with the payment via mail or online. The SEVIS fee must be paid at least 3 business days prior to a visa interview. Learn more about the SEVIS fee here.
- Apply for and receive a J-1 student visa. Use your DS-2019 issued by UConn to apply for your visa. The application process includes a short interview in English, the application form DS-2019 and the proof of the SEVIS fee payment.
- Once you have your student visa, you can enter the US with your DS-2019 and J-1 visa. Note: you can enter the US no more than 30 days before and no later than the beginning fate indicated on your DS-2019.
- Am I allowed to work in the U.S?
J-1 students are allowed to work on campus for up to 20 hrs per week during the semester and 40 hrs during the break periods when classes are not in session. This includes during winter intersession, thanksgiving and spring breaks, and summer term. J-1 students MUST receive employment authorization from ISSS BEFORE starting their on-campus job. You will be required to complete the J1 Student Employment Approval Request Form prior to engaging in the employment. If the request is approved, the International Advisor will provide you with an employment authorization approval letter. Failure to get proper authorization will result in a violation of your J-1 status and will be grounds for termination in SEVIS.
More information about On Campus Work Permission can be found on the ISSS website.
- Can I enter the US earlier than the start day of the program?
You will be allowed to enter the U.S. with your UConn DS-2019 up to 30 days prior to your program start date. Please note that you should NOT travel to Canada before the start date on your DS-2019. This could potentially lead to significant problems with your J-1 status. You will also receive a 30-day grace period after the program end date on your Form DS-2019, during which you can get ready to go back home and travel within the U.S. if you would like to. Once you leave the country during the 30-day grace period, you will not be allowed to reenter the U.S. under J-1 status.
Travel to the U.S. prior to the start of the exchange date is highly discouraged. Students who have come to the U.S. prior to their exchange on a different visa have experienced problems trying to convert their visa status to J-1, despite the varying advice (which is often incorrect) given during the advisement period by other sources. These issues can sometimes result in a student having to depart the U.S. (at their own expense) and fly home in order to be able to re-enter the U.S. under the correct status. Students should not make travel plans to the U.S. before the program start date without consulting the International Student and Scholar Services office at UConn.
- Do I need to be enrolled full-time to maintain my J-1 Status?
Yes, to maintain your J-1 status, you must enroll in a full-time course load:
- Undergraduate Students: Minimum of 12 credits
- Graduate Students: Minimum of 9 credits
Only classroom-based courses may count towards the minimum enrollment requirements for J-1 visa regulations. Distance learning, hybrid, and online courses cannot be used in calculating full-time status.
International Student and Scholar Services is responsible for all matters related to your J-1 student visa and status. Please visit the ISSS website for more information.
- Am I required to have health insurance?
Government regulations require all J-1 Exchange Visitors to carry medical insurance throughout the period of participation as a condition of maintaining legal status. Information regarding these requirements can be found on the ISSS website: http://isss.uconn.edu/medical-insurance/
Exchange students have the option of enrolling in the UConn sponsored student health insurance plan. Due to high costs of medical services in the U.S., enrollment in the UConn health insurance plan is highly recommended. Before deciding whether you would like to opt out of the UConn Health Insurance plan, please review the information contained in the IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT MEDICAL INSURANCE document.