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J-1 Scholars & Faculty

The U.S. Department of State administers the Exchange Visitor Program under the provisions of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, as amended. The act promotes mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange. The Exchange Visitor Program provides J-1 scholars opportunities to participate in exchange programs in the United States with the expectation that on completion of their exchange program, they will return home to share their experiences.

Pre-arrival information

Plan your arrival – J-1 regulations require that you arrive to the U.S. within 30 days of the start date shown on your DS-2019. Notify us if your arrival will be more than 30 days after the start date so that we may mail you a new DS-2019.

Schedule an Orientation Appointment – Contact Risa Sakai by email or by phone (304) 293-5954 prior to your arrival at WVU so that we may validate your arrival into the SEVIS system. Complying with this obligation is crucial to your legal stay in the U.S.

Carry your documents by hand – Do not place the following documents in your baggage. If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will be unable to present the documents at your port of entry. As a result, you may not be able to enter the United States.

  • Passport (valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay)
  • DS-2019.

It is strongly recommended that you also carry the following documentation:

  • Evidence of financial resources
  • Letter of acceptance as a participant in the Exchange Visitor Program
  • Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee, Form I-797
  • Name and contact information for your sponsoring organization, including a 24-hour emergency contact number

Complete your entry paperwork

  • If arriving by air – Flight attendants will distribute Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival- Departure Record Forms (I-94). These must be completed prior to landing.
  • If arriving by land or sea – The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry will provide the necessary Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival-Departure Record Forms (I-94) to be filled out upon your arrival.

As you arrive at the port of entry – Proceed to the terminal area for arriving passengers. Have the following documents available for presentation:

  • Your passport
  • Your DS-2019 (including other accompanying documents within same envelope)
  • Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94)
  • Customs Declaration Form (CF-6059).

The Form I-94 should reflect the address where you will reside, not the address of the program.

All visitors entering the United States must state their reason for wishing to enter the country. You will also be asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell the CBP officer that you will be an exchange visitor. Be prepared to include the name and address of the school program where you will enroll/participate.

Exchange Visitors must report to their Exchange Visitor Program sponsor within 30 days of the program begin date identified in line 3 of the DS-2019 to have their participation in the program validated.

Exchange Visitors in programs beginning with “G” listed in item 2 of the DS-2019, and who are being sponsored for less than 30 days, must have their sponsor validate their participation prior to the end date listed in Item 3 of the DS-2019. Failure to have participation validated will result in an automatic invalidated SEVIS record.

Arrival Information

Arrival at WVU – Report to ISSS for your mandatory orientation appointment. If you did not make an appointment prior to your arrival to the U.S., you must contact Risa Sakai by email or by phone (304) 293-5954 to make an appointment. The orientation is required so that we may validate your arrival into the SEVIS system.

Bring the following items with you to your orientation appointment:

  • Passport and Visa
  • DS-2019
  • I-94 (after arrival in the US, you must print and verify the information on the form found at
  • Proof of Insurance (purchased before arrival in the U.S.)
  • US Address
  • US Phone Number

If you do not have a U.S. address or telephone number by the time of the orientation, please make sure you notify us of your address or telephone number as soon as you have them. You may fill out a change of address form and email it to Kristopher Bennett at

For a visual representation of the arrival process, please see our J-1 Arrival flowchart.

Responsibilities for J-1 Scholars

  • Submit a Change of Address form to Kristopher Bennett at within 10 days of changing your US address or US phone number.
  • Report departure date and reason to ISSS if you plan to leave the university before the expiration date on your DS-2019.
  • Report program changes to ISSS (such as a change in your academic program or the program dates).
  • You may conduct research or teach only at WVU, unless specifically authorized ahead of time by ISSS. Contact our office if you are invited to speak or consult at another institution.
  • Maintain adequate health insurance for yourself as well as for any of your dependents in J-2 status throughout your stay in the U.S.
  • Apply for an extension before your DS-2019 form expires if you intend to stay at WVU. Scholars in the “research scholar” or “professor” categories currently have a maximum of five years to complete their program.
  • Receive authorization from ISSS before leaving WVU in order to transfer to another institution.
  • Depart the U.S. within 30 days of the DS-2019 expiration date or program end date (whichever is earlier) unless you have applied for a change of status with the USCIS.
  • Obtain signature on your DS-2019 from ISSS prior to traveling outside the U.S.