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Pre-Arrival Information

1. Purpose and Program Activities

The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the United States and return home to share those experiences. At WVU, we encourage our exchange visitors to engage in educational and cultural experiences in the United States. By participating in the Program, exchange visitors at WVU will have the opportunity to learn, research, and teach alongside their American peers. Additionally, exchange visitors at WVU will be invited to participate in cultural experiences such as American sporting events, holiday celebrations, and scenic excursions.

2. Travel to and Entry into the United States

  • i. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulation 8 C.F.R. 214.13(a)(2) requires that a fee of $220 be charged for all J-1 Visiting Scholars.

  • ii. You must pay this fee when you are: 1. Outside the U.S. applying for a J-1 visa if you are participating in a new program in the U.S. for the first time. 2. Inside the U.S. in the following situations: a. you have applied to change your status to J-1 status; b. you have applied to change your category (e.g. from J-1 student to J-1 research scholar); c. you are transferring from a U.S. government sponsored program to a non-U.S. government sponsored program.

  • iii. You must pay the $220 SEVIS fee either by: 1. Internet: follow the online instructions to complete the fee payment form, Form I-901, at Include the required credit card information and print out the payment screen to verify your payment. This will be your receipt. You are required to take this receipt to your visa application interview. 2. Postal Mail: complete the fee payment form, Form I-901, at Include a personal check, money order, or bank draft drawn on a U.S. bank. Be sure to print your name on the check and also “I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee” in the lower left corner of the check. Mail the check and the Form I-901 to: I-901 Student/Exchange Visitor Processing Fee P.O. Box 970020 St. Louis, MO 63197-0020

  • iv. You will receive a receipt by mail at the address you give on your Form I-901. You are required to take this receipt to your visa application interview.

  • i. The process of applying for a visa will vary depending on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate you obtain your visa from. Please visit your embassy or consulate website to find the appropriate steps you should follow.

  • ii. Generally, applying for an exchange visitor visa requires you to 1. Complete the online visa application, Form DS-160 2. Upload a photo meeting the photography requirements 3. Schedule an interview appointment with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate 4. If applicable, pay the $160 visa application fee. More information on fees can be found here

  • i. You will need to take multiple documents to your interview appointment. These documents include: 1. A passport valid for travel to the United States. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States. 2. Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page 3. Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay the visa application fee 4. SEVIS fee payment receipt 5. Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, Form DS-2019.

  • ii. In some scenarios, you will need additional documents at your interview appointment. These documents include: 1. If your photo upload fails when you are completing online Form DS-160, you will need a printed copy of a photo meeting the photo requirements. 2. If you will be participating in the Exchange Visitor Program as a J-1 Trainee or J-1 Intern, you will need Form DS-7002.

  • iii. If you have any questions about the documents you need to take to your interview appointment, contact your U.S. Embassy or Consulate for clarification.

WVU does not provide transport from ports of entry to campus. You are responsible for arranging travel to and from WVU. Please visit the Travel to WVU webpage for helpful information.

  • i. You will be required to show the Customs and Border Protection Officer a few documents at the port of entry. It is important that you carry these documents on your person and not in a checked bag. Without these documents, you may be denied entry into the United States

    1. Passport (including attached, unopened envelope of immigration documents) with visa
    2. SEVIS Form DS-2019
    3. Evidence of financial resources
  • ii. It is also highly recommended that you carry:

    1. Evidence of Student/Exchange Visitor status
    2. Name and contact information for the Designated School Official or Responsible Officer at your intended school or program
    3. Writing instrument (pen)
  • iii. If you are arriving by aircraft, you will be provided with CF-6059 Customs Declaration Forms and I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Forms for Immigration before you land. Complete these forms while on the aircraft and be prepared to present them to the Customs and Border Protection Officer.

  • iv. If you are arriving by land or sea, the Customs and Border Protection Officer will provide the CF-6059 Customs Declaration Forms and I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Forms for Immigration.

  • v. Like all visitors entering the United States, you will be asked to state the reason you wish to enter the United States. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you are prepared to:

    1. Tell the Customs and Border Protection Officer that you will be an exchange visitor
    2. Provide the Customs and Border Protection Officer with the name and address of WVU

3. Costs to Consider

WVU does not provide housing for exchange visitors. It is your responsibility to ensure you have adequate housing during your time at WVU. Please visit the Off-Campus Housing Webpage for helpful information. Additionally, a list of potential rentals in Morgantown can be found here.

  • i. The Department of State (DOS) regulation 22 C.F.R. 62.14 requires that all exchange visitors and their accompanying dependents (spouse/child) have health and accident insurance. You must obtain and maintain the required coverage for your entire stay.

  • ii. Minimum coverage must include: 1. Medical benefits of no less than $100,000 per accident or illness 2. Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000 3. Medical evacuation benefits of $50,000 4. A maximum of $500 deductible per accident or illness 5. A waiting period for pre-existing conditions that is reasonable by the current industry standards and 6. Coverage for activities inherent to the exchange program

  • iii. Additionally, the insurance policy must meet one of the numbered standards listed below. 1. The insurance policy must have one of the following ratings: a. A.M. Best rating of “A-” or above b. Fitch Rating, Inc. Rating of “A-” or above c. McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poors’ Claims-paying Ability rating of “A-” or above or d. Weiss Research, Inc. Rating of “B+” or above 2. The insurance policy must be backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor’s home country; 3. The insurance policy must be part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees on a group basis by a designated sponsor; or 4. The insurance policy is offered through a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by the Department of Health and Human Services.

WVU does not currently charge fees to incoming scholars.

4. Maintaining J-1 Status

You must arrive in the United States within 30 days of the start date on your DS-2019. Upon arrival, you must schedule an orientation appointment with WVU’s International Students & Scholars Services (ISSS). You are not allowed to work or engage in your courtesy appointment prior to attending this orientation.

U.S. federal regulations require all J-1 scholars to report a change of address within 10 days (of the address change) to an international scholar advisor in ISSS. The U.S. federal government requires scholars to report directly to ISSS. ISSS is required to provide this and other scholar data to the federal government electronically. No other university office is authorized by the federal government to process this data.

J-1 scholars must inform their advisor in ISSS if they plan to leave WVU before the expiration date of their DS-2019 form as well as the reason for doing so.

J-1 scholars must notify their advisor whenever there is a change in their academic program or program dates.

J-1 scholars may conduct research or teach only at WVU unless specifically authorized ahead of time by ISSS to give a lecture or consult at another institution. Scholars must contact their advisor if invited to speak or consult at another institution.

J-1 scholars must maintain adequate health insurance for themselves and any dependents in J-2 status throughout their stay in the U.S.

J-1 scholars must apply for an extension before their DS-2019 form expires if they intend to stay at WVU. Scholars in the Research Scholar or Professor categories currently have a maximum of five years to complete their J-1 program.

J-1 scholars must receive authorization from their advisor before leaving WVU in order to transfer to another institution.

J-1 scholars must depart the U.S. within 30 days of DS-2019 expiration date or program end date, whichever is earlier, unless they have applied for a change of status with the USCIS.

The DS-2019 requires that J-1 scholars obtain their advisor’s signature on their DS-2109 form prior to traveling outside the U.S.

5. The Two-Year Home Residence Requirement

  • a. Some exchange visitors are subject to the Two-Year Home Residence Requirement found in Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

  • b. If you belong in one of the following categories, you may be subject to this requirement at the end of your J-1 program.

    • i. Medical doctor sponsored by Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

    • ii. You come from a country on the Department of State’s skill list.

    • iii. You received funding from your home government or from the U.S. government through agencies, such as Fulbright

  • c. To learn more about the 212(e) Two-Year Home Residence Requirement, please visit the Department of State website.

6. Other Relevant Information

To begin working and getting paid, you will need to complete the following steps in order:

  1. Complete your J-1 Orientation with WVU’s International Students & Scholar’s Services (ISSS) at 1505 University Avenue. Please email to set up this appointment. 2. Apply for a Social Security Card (if you do not already have a U.S. Social Security Card) with the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). You must have a Social Security Number (SSN) to work in the U.S.

    • a. You will need to bring original copies of all of your immigration and employment documents: Form DS-2019, I-94, employment offer letter, passport, and visa. You will also need to have a completed Form SS-5 with your current, accurate address included prior to arriving to your appointment. Do not schedule an appointment or show up without all of your required documents ready and in hand as this will only cause further delays and your appointment with the SSA will be cancelled and need to be rescheduled. The Social Security Administration Office will process your application and provide you with an application letter/receipt. More information can be found here: Social Security Numbers for Noncitizens

    • b. The Social Security Administration’s phone number to make an appointment is 1-866-770-2055 and their address in Morgantown is 3596 Collins Ferry Road, Morgantown, WV 26505.

    • c. Due to COVID-19, you must make an appointment in advance with the local SSA office. Once you have all of your required documents, please schedule your appointment as soon as possible to avoid further delays. Appointments are limited to certain day(s) throughout the week based on availability of their staff. Appointments are available only two weeks after entering the country, and only if the individual is not displaying symptoms of COVID-19. According to the SSA office, the two-week wait to make an appointment applies to everyone entering the U.S. regardless if you have been vaccinated prior to arrival. The SSA office in Morgantown has recommended not to travel to other offices in order to expedite the process and to wait for an appointment to be made in Morgantown.

  2. Open a U.S. bank account. You must have a U.S. bank account in order to be paid by WVU.

  3. Begin Payroll Processing for WVU. You can contact Tax Services by email at to begin processing for payroll. You may not begin working until you have completed payroll processing. You will not receive your WVU email address, log in information, or photo ID until you have fully processed for payroll.

  • i. It is important to note that requirements for opening a bank account vary between banks. Therefore, after you decide which bank you would like to open an account with, you should contact that bank specifically to find out how to open an account and what documents you will need to present.

  • ii. There are many banks in Morgantown. Below is a list of some of the banks available to you. You are welcome to search the internet for a bank that meets your preferences and needs.

    1. PNC Bank—this bank has 3 Morgantown locations a. 455 Suncrest Towne Center, Ste 101 b. 1550 University Avenue c. 62 Morrill Way, Suite 311
    2. United Bank—this bank has 5 offices in the Morgantown area a. 154 Fayette Street b. 40 Hurley Street, Waterfront c. 689 Fairmont Road d. 1750 Earl Core Road e. 101 Venture Drive
    3. Huntington Bank—this bank has 4 Morgantown locations a. 201 High Street b. 3120 University Avenue c. 312 Cheat Road d. 208 Giant Street, Suite B
    4. BB&T—this bank has 4 Morgantown locations a. 493 Spruce Street b. 466 Chestnut Ridge Road c. 1806 Earl Core Road d. 1000 Mid Atlantic Drive

  • i. The local Division of Motor Vehicles is located at 1525 Deckers Creek Blvd, Morgantown, WV 26505.

  • ii. In order to obtain a valid West Virginia driver’s license, you will need to schedule an appointment with the local DMV.

  • iii. At this appointment, you will need: 1. Social security card 2. 2 proofs of WV residency 3. A valid foreign passport with English translation 4. A form I-94 5. A visa issued by the U.S. 6. All original INS documents to verify status and length of authorized stay 7. Your Form DS-2019 8. Written verification of employment or attendance at the school listed on your DS-2019. This written verification cannot be more than 30 days old.

  • iv. For more information, or if you have questions specific to your situation, please visit The WV DMV Website or call 304-558-3900.

Please visit this site to read about your rights as a temporary employee in the United States here.