All of VCU’s J-1 exchange visitors are classified into one of the following categories:
Generally, an exchange visitor may not change from one category to another; however, under exceptional and unusual circumstances, it may be possible to apply to the U.S. Department of State for permission to change categories. This application process usually takes several months.
J-1 college/university student
This status comprises students enrolled in a full course of study who receive support from scholarships, grants and sources other than personal or family funds at a U.S. institution. The J-1 student visa may be valid for the time required to complete a degree program, or for up to 24 months for non-degree programs. The visa may be extended upon completion of the course of study for the student to engage in academic training for employment related to the field of study.
J-1 trainee, teacher, professor or research scholar
This status is not to exceed five years. Usually, employment not connected with the appointment is not permitted. Reimbursements, honoraria or per diem payments received as a guest lecturer, collaborative researcher, etc. may be undertaken only with prior written approval from the responsible officer of the scholar or professor’s exchange program. Generally, persons on other institutions’ J-1 exchange visitor programs must transfer to VCU’s exchange visitor program before beginning employment at VCU.
Note: Physicians may not perform clinical activities while classified in this category of the J-1 visa.
Restrictions on returning in professor or research scholar category
If an individual in the professor or research scholar categories lived in the U.S. during the past 24 months in J-1 status sponsored by any organization (including those not connected with VCU), the GEO is prohibited from issuing a DS-2019 for this person to enter the U.S. in the J-1 professor or research scholar category.
VCU’s J-1 Exchange Visitor Sponsor form asks incoming visitors to list their visa history so our office may determine appropriate options.
J-1 short-term scholar
The short-term scholar category is used to bring someone to the U.S. to observe, lecture, consult or participate in conferences or meetings. This status does allow reimbursements, honoraria or per diem payments for serving as a guest lecturer, etc. The maximum time one can spend in the U.S. in this category is six months.
No extension of stay beyond the six-month period is allowed. See above for exceptions to returning to the U.S. in the professor or research scholar category.
This status should be used to bring a foreign national who is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge to observe, consult or demonstrate special skills — except for those who may fall into the professor/researcher category. This visa should not be used as a means of general employment. Regulations prohibit individuals from filling a permanent or long-term position. The specialist may receive payment and may remain in the U.S. for a maximum of one year.