News Calendar About Statistics FAQs Contact Links
 International Students & Scholars Office
 Students Scholars Administrators
Prospective Scholars
Form B (Adobe PDF File)
Obtaining H-1 Visa
Obtaining J-1 Visa
J Financial Requirements
   
ISSO Scholar and Staff Schedule
Scholar Advising Assignments
ISSO Scholar Services Calendar
Scholar Services at BUMC
J-1 Scholar Orientation
I-9 Employment Eligibility
    When must I-9 be completed?
    Weekly I-9 times/appointments?
    I-9 completion - what to bring?
Wednesday Walk-In Hours
   
Current Scholars
Address Change
Social Security Card Application
   
J-1 Rights and Responsibilities
H-1 Rights and Responsibilities
J-1 Student Intern Evaluation
End of Employment Notification

Immigration Requirements for Entry to the US for J-1 Scholars

Purpose
The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) has prepared this handout for individuals who have a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status (Form DS-2019) for a program of teaching or research at Boston University. It will describe how to apply for a J-1 visa to enter the U.S.

Caution: Do not enter on a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa, or in WT or WB status through the “Visa Waiver” program. It is unlawful for individuals in these classifications to work in the U.S., and it is difficult and sometimes impossible to change status to J-1 once in the country.

Step 1: Read Form DS-2019
Please note that your SEVIS Form DS-2019 indicates that we have created a record on your behalf in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Your SEVIS ID number is found in the upper right hand corner of page one (1) of your SEVIS Form DS-2019. If any information on this form is incorrect, please contact our office (or your “Program Sponsor” if your DS-2019 was issued by an organization other than Boston University). If all of the information on the form is correct, sign your name in the appropriate space on the form. If you have dependents (husband or wife, children under the age of 21) who will be traveling with you, they will receive their own Form(s) DS-2019 to assist with their application(s) for J-2 visa(s). Please contact the ISSO if you intend to bring your dependents to the U.S. with you and you have not received separate documentation for your dependent family members.

Please refer to the start date in section three (3) of the SEVIS Form DS-2019 to make sure that it is accurate. Note that entry to the U.S. in J-1 scholar status or J-2 dependent status is permitted up to 30 days before and up to 30 days after this start date. If it will not be possible to enter the U.S. AND REPORT TO THE ISSO within 30 days of the start date, please notify the ISSO.

Note: The spelling of your name and your date of birth must be exactly as they appear in your passport. The same is true for dependents. If your name and/or date of birth on SEVIS Form DS-2019 are not exactly the same as the information that appears in your passport, please request a corrected SEVIS Form DS-2019 from our office.

Step 2: Make Sure Your Passport is Valid
In order to avoid possible problems applying for a visa or entering the U.S., your passport should be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the date you plan to enter the country

Step 3: Pay the SEVIS Fee
Effective September 1, 2004, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will require proof of payment of a one-time SEVIS fee of $100. This will be collected from prospective J-1 scholars with “begin new program” DS-2019s issued after September 1, 2004 who are applying for an initial J-1 visa from outside the U.S. While immigration regulations indicate that the fee should be paid to DHS a minimum of three business days prior to visa application at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, we suggest that you pay the fee as soon as you receive your Form DS-2019 so you will allow sufficient time for DHS to update your fee payment in your electronic SEVIS record.

The SEVIS fee is NOT required if you are currently in valid J-1 immigration status. Similarly, if you are transferring to a new J sponsor a SEVIS fee is not required. J-2 dependents are not required to pay the SEVIS fee. Individuals from a very limited number of countries are exempt from the requirement to have a visa to enter the U.S. However, they are not exempt from the SEVIS fee. Proof of SEVIS fee payment must be verified at the U.S. port of entry before the visa-exempt individual will be admitted to the United States in J-1 status.


The fee can be paid to DHS either

  1. over the internet with an electronic application form (Form I-901) and a credit card (see important note below),

  2. by mailing a paper application with a check or bank draft drawn in U.S. dollars to a processing center in the U.S., or

  3. by making a payment at a participating Western Union in your area. There is currently no mechanism to pay the fee at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate or at a U.S. port of entry.

The fee can be paid by the scholar or by a third party inside or outside the U.S. However, the scholar must have proof of payment when applying for the visa and entering the U.S.


We strongly recommend that scholars pay the fee online with a credit card, if possible, to secure an immediate receipt which can be printed from the web.

Important note regarding use of credit cards:
Due to recent processing difficulties, SEVP is currently unable to accept credit card payments made on behalf of scholars from the following countries:

  • Ghana
  • Nigeria
  • Cameroon
  • Kenya

Scholars from these countries must pay by cashier's check, money order or Western Union transfer.

 

All scholars who pay the SEVIS fee will receive a formal receipt that should be used as proof of fee payment. The receipt (which will most likely be on Form I-797) will be sent to the mailing address you provide on Form I-901. This receipt notice will take time to process and to arrive in the mail. The Form I-901 instructions state that receipts will be sent via airmail at no additional cost. The payee can request expedited courier delivery, by indicating this request on the Form I-901 and by paying an extra $30 at the time of initial payment. If the courier delivery option is selected, the scholar must include a contact telephone number and actual street address since the courier will not deliver to a P.O. Box. Although fee payments should also be entered into your permanent immigration (SEVIS) record, it is strongly recommended that you retain the fee receipt with your other important immigration documents to use as needed.

To Pay the SEVIS Fee Online

  1. Log onto the following website: www.FMJfee.com
  2. Complete the Form I-901 online. Make certain to type your name exactly as it appears on your SEVIS Form DS-2019 and complete each section accurately. You must supply the necessary Visa, MasterCard or American Express information.
  3. Submit the electronic Form I-901 and payment.
  4. Print a copy of the online receipt to use as temporary proof of payment until you receive the Form I-797 receipt.
  5. A Form I-797 receipt notice should be mailed to the address you indicated on Form I-901 within 3 days of processing the fee. Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep the original with your other important immigration documents.

To Pay the SEVIS Fee By Mail

  1. Complete the enclosed Form I-901. Make certain to type your name exactly as it appears on your SEVIS Form DS-2019 and complete each section accurately.
  2. Obtain a check, international money order or bank draft in the amount of $100 USDollars, made payable to “The Department of Homeland Security”.
  3. Send the completed I-901 and payment to one of the addresses below depending on mail service you use.
  4. A Form I-797 receipt notice should be mailed to the address you indicated on Form I-901 within 3 days of processing the fee. Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep the original with your other important immigration documents.
  5. A formal Form I-797 receipt notice should be issued within three days from date of payment. It will be sent to the address you indicated on Form I-901.  Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep the original with your other important immigration documents.

The mailing addresses for paying by check or money order using the paper Form I-901 are:

P.O. Box address for regular mail service:

Street address for courier/express delivery:

I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee
P.O. Box 970020
St. Louis , MO 63197-0020

I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee
1005 Convention Plaza
St. Louis , MO 63101

To Pay the SEVIS at a participating Western Union Agent

  1. Log onto the following site: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/wu_instr.htm and follow the instructions for SEVIS I-901 Fee Payment by Western Union Quick Pay.
  2. Print out and bring a copy of the instructions from this website along with a copy of the sample form from the same site http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/wu_j_us.htm to a local participating Western Union Agent location.
  3. Travel to the nearest Western Union Agent location. Find a Western Union Agent at: http://www.payment-solutions.com/agent.asp or call the telephone number of the Western Union Commercial Services Network Agent in your country.
  4. Complete a “Blue Form” at the participating local Western Union Agent location. This form may show words such as “Payment Services” or “Quick Pay” printed in the applicable local language, however, all Quick Pay forms will be blue. Fill out all appropriate information. Make certain to include your name exactly as it appears on your SEVIS Form DS-2019 and complete each section accurately. Make certain to include the SEVIS ID number (located on the upper right hand corner of your Boston University SEVIS document) your date of birth and the Boston University Exchange Visitor Program Number (P-1-00576) exactly as it appears on the sample form.
  5. Make the payment at the Western Union Agent.
  6. Retain the Western Union receipt to use as temporary proof of payment until you receive the Form I-797 receipt.
  7. A formal Form I-797 receipt notice should be issued within three days from date of payment. It will be sent to the address you indicated on Form I-901. Be sure to make copies of your receipt, and keep the original with your other important immigration documents

Please note that the SEVIS fee is non-refundable. If your J-1 visa application is denied by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, you will not be required to pay a new SEVIS fee if you reapply for a new J-1 visa within 12 months of the denial, you will not have to pay the fee again. Please contact the staff of the ISSO at issosch@bu.edu if you have any questions regarding the payment of the SEVIS fee.

Step 4: Obtain a valid J-1 visa
Please apply for a J-1 visa well in advance of your planned travel to the U.S. as it can take a few months to obtain a nonimmigrant visa at some U.S. Embassies and Consulates. To find the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you, go to http://usembassy.state.gov/. Citizens of all countries (except Canada) are required to have a J-1 visa to enter the U.S. To apply for a J-1 visa, you will need to submit the following documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate:

Citizens of all countries (except Canada and Bermuda) are required to have a J-1 visa to enter the U.S.

To apply for a J-1 visa, you will need to submit the following documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate:

  1. Nonimmigrant Visa Application [Form DS-156 or Form DS-160 (the electronic version of the DS-156)], which can be obtained from the U.S. Consulate or at http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/forms/forms_1342.html
  2. Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-157), generally required of all male applicants between the ages of 16 and 45, which can be obtained from the U.S. Consulate
  3. Contact Information and Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant (Form DS-158), which can be obtained from the U.S. Consulate or at http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/79965.pdf                                  Note: This form is not always required. Please check with the consular office where you will apply for your visa.
  4. Application fee (check with the consulate for the fee amount and how it must be paid)
  5. One photograph (2 inches square [50 x 50mm], showing full face, without head covering, against a light background)
  6. Passport
  7. Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status (SEVIS Form DS-2019)
  8. Appointment or invitation letter from Boston University
  9. Original documents proving the availability of sufficient funds as stated on your SEVIS Form DS-2019
  10. Documents that demonstrate that you intend to return home after the completion of your activities in the U.S.

All visa applicants are now required to schedule a personal appointment for an interview. Please keep in mind that it may take a few weeks to schedule an appointment so you should initiate your visa application as early as possible. Before your interview, practice answering questions in English about your application, your plans in the U.S., and your plans after you return home. If your spouse and children will remain in your home country, be prepared to explain how they will support themselves without you sending them money from the U.S. During your interview, make a good impression, be positive and respond to questions with clear, concise answers.

You may not need to do anything special to prove that you intend to return home. It may be sufficient for you to explain that you plan to return to your country to work, to continue your studies, or to do whatever you plan to do when you return home. However, you may need to prove that you have such strong ties to your home country that you will return there. If you believe it is likely that you will need to prove your intention to return home after you complete your studies, please carefully read the enclosed handout entitled Proving "Nonimmigrant Intent" for U.S. Visa Application Purposes.

The consular official may decide to subject your application to a special “security clearance” before granting the visa. Security clearances may take as long as a few months, so it is very important that you apply for your J-1 visa as early as possible. Most consular officials request a security clearance based on the country of national origin of the applicant or on a determined level of sensitivity of your prospective field of study. Once the application has been sent for security clearance, the applicant must simply wait until the consulate approves the visa.

If your visa application is denied, it is difficult to get the consulate to change its decision. For this reason, it is important that you arrive at your appointment with the best supporting information. If your visa is denied, please contact our office and we will try to provide you with suggestions that may strengthen your next visa application.

The Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement
After you finish your J-1 program in the U.S., you may be required to spend two years in your home country, or country of last legal residence, before you will be allowed to return to the U.S. in certain types of immigration classifications. You may be subject to this requirement if:

  • Either the U.S. government or your home government directly funds your activities in the U.S.
  • Your prospective field of research, teaching or expertise appears on a document called the “Skills List,” or
  • You will receive graduate medical education or training.

If you have any questions about the two-year home country physical presence requirement, please contact our office or your J-1 “Program Sponsor” for more information.

Step 5: Travel to the U.S.
Once you have obtained your J-1 visa, you are ready to travel to the U.S. Immigration regulations allow you to enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days prior to the start date of your program indicated in Section 3 of your SEVIS Form DS-2019. You must carry with you items 6-9 listed in Step 3 of this handout. Place these documents in a folder or envelope that you will have with you at all times during your travel.

Step 6: Apply for "Admission" to the U.S.
When you arrive in the U.S. , you will apply for “admission” and an Immigration Inspector will examine your documents. You will need to present the following documents:

  • Passport with valid J-1 visa, and
  • SEVIS Form DS-2019

You should have the following documents ready to present if the Immigration Inspector asks for them:

  • Original financial documents
  • Appointment or invitation letter from Boston University

The Immigration Inspector may ask you one or more questions. If you are asked about your funding, answer the question and offer to show the Inspector your financial documents. If you are asked about your “intentions,” answer the question and offer to show supporting documents. Please be advised that nationals or citizens of certain countries are now subject to a Special Registration when entering the U.S. You may be fingerprinted and photographed at the point of entry. You should calmly provide all information requested by the Immigration officer.

Please be advised that citizens of certain countries may be subject to Special Registration procedures when entering the U.S. This process requires fingerprinting and photographing and could take extra time, please plan connecting flights accordingly. You should calmly provide all information requested by the Immigration officer.

If you have the required documents and there are no more questions, the Immigration Inspector will “admit” you to the U.S. by stamping your passport.

When you leave the inspection area, make certain you have the following documents in your possession:

  1. Passport,
  2. SEVIS Form DS-2019 and
  3. All supporting documents

Additional Information
The staff of the ISSO is pleased to provide you with information, advice, and assistance on any visa or immigration matter that relates to your activities at Boston University. For more information on U.S. Embassies and Consulates, on the visa application process, and on the “exchange visitor” program, you may visit the U.S. Department of State website at http://www.travel.state.gov or our website at http://www.bu.edu/isso.

 

ISSO
Boston University
May 7, 2013

Boston University International Students & Scholars Office