Overview of the J-1 Visa Category

The J-1 was created to promote academic, cultural, and scientific exchange between the visitor and the host country. J-1 exchange visitor visa status is available to scholars to engage in educational and cultural programs in the United States, and return to their home countries to share their experiences, as well as encouraging their colleagues in the United States to participate in educational and cultural programs abroad. Duke University and Health System is authorized by the Exchange Visitor Program to accept students, researchers, professors, short-term scholars, interns and specialists. Depending on the category, these programs can be valid for multi-week to multi-year periods, but regardless of the duration of the program, scholars must focus on the specific goals of the program for the duration of their stay in J-1 statuses.

Detailed information for each Duke Sponsored visa category is located on our Visa Application and Entry into the United States webpage.

This nonimmigrant category is available only to full-time, enrolled students working toward a degree or engaged full-time in a non-degree prescribed course of study at an accredited educational institution.  Each school has an Admissions Office dedicated to admitting new students. Contact information for each school can be found at Duke's Admissions and Aid webpage. The Duke Visa Services Student Admission webpage provides detailed information regarding visa document issuance, Funding Guidelines and an F-1/J-1 Comparison Chart.

J-1 Research Scholars and Professors are participants in programs primarily involving teaching, research, long-term professional observation, or consulting. These programs can range from 3 weeks to 5 years.

J-1 Short-Term Scholars are professors, research scholars and other individuals with similar education or accomplishments travelling to the United States on a short-term visit to lecture, observe, consult, train or demonstrate special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited academic institutions or similar types of institutions.

J-1 Specialists are experts in a specialized field of knowledge or skill coming to the United States for observing, consulting, or demonstrating special skills.

J-1 Alien Physicians are medical residents engaging in Graduate Medical Education in the United States, and are sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), with the sponsoring school’s assistance. Detailed information can be found on the ECFMG website.

All J-1 scholars and J-2 dependents are required to carry health insurance that meets specifications outlined in the J regulations, as well as Duke University policy. If you have questions concerning this requirement, please refer to our J-1 Exchange Visitor Health Insurance Requirement webpage.

In keeping with the goals of the J-1 program to promote cultural exchange, visitors in J-1 status are expected to return to their country of origin at the end of their program and share their experiences from their visit to the U.S. For this reason, all J-1 programs are required to be temporary in nature, and thus cannot be used for sponsoring permanent positions, such as regular staff positions or tenure-track faculty appointments. Please also see the issues surrounding the two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement for additional restrictions on long-term stay when using J-1 status.

The new federal income tax law, 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) which will be implemented in 2019, eliminates the personal exemption of $4,050 when filing Form 1040-NR for nonresident aliens. This may affect exchange visitors’ refund of wages withheld for federal income tax and may consequently increase the cost of Exchange Visitor Program participation. Tax-related issues are under the purview of the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For more information on the TCJA, please visit the IRS websiteand look for IRS Publication 5307.