J-1 Exchange Visitors

Allegheny maintains a small but active exchange visitor program. We currently sponsor J-1 exchange visitors in the following categories: Professors, Research Scholars, Short-Term Scholars, Specialists, and non-degree students/interns.

Applying for a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa

Exchange visitor (J) visas are nonimmigrant visas for individuals approved to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States. Exchange Visitors cannot travel on the Visa Waiver Program or with Visitor Visas.  A J-1 visa is required to participate in an exchange visitor program in the United States.  

  • Exchange visitors must have a DS-2019 certificate of eligibility from Allegheny college to apply for their J-1 visa. International Student Services will contact you regarding your DS-2019 and any information that may be needed to process your document. 
  • Once you have received your DS-2019, you must pay the required SEVIS fee. The SEVIS fee is a one time payment and helps to fund the operation of the United States government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program.The current fee for J-1 visa applicants is $220.
  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa application, Form DS-160 and pay required fees.
  • Schedule an interview: Interviews are generally required for visa applicants with certain limited exceptions or for those eligible for an interview waiver. 
    •  You should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of the country where you reside.
    • Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait times for the location where you will apply. 

Entry into the United States

A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States.  A visa only allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry and request permission to enter the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States.  

      • After you present your passport, visa, and Form DS-2019 at the port-of-entry, a CBP official will make the decision on your entry.  Once you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.  
      • Learn about procedures for entering the United States: Arrival Procedures for Students or Exchange Visitors 

Maintaining Legal Immigration Status

It is very important for exchange visitors to maintain legal status while they are in the U.S. Exchange visitors who fall “out of status” are considered illegally residing in the U.S. and subject to penalties.

  • Maintain required documents
    • Passport valid for at least six months beyond planned departure date.
    • Valid DS-2019
    • Accurate I-94 admission record
  • Report changes to information
    • All changes to U.S. address, phone number or email must be reported to ISS within 10 calendar days of the change.
  • Maintain valid health insurance (see below)
  • Comply with requirements of your visa category and program objectives 
  • Do NOT engage in employment within the United States without prior authorization from ISS.

Health Insurance requirements for exchange visitors

Exchange visitors are required by the U.S. government to have health insurance coverage in effect for the duration of their program. Insurance must include: 

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
  • An insurance policy must be underwritten by an insurance corporation with an A.M. Best rating of “A-” or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-I” or above, a Standard and Poor’s Claims Paying Ability rating of “A-” or above, or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above. Alternatively, the sponsor may ascertain that the participant’s policy is backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor’s home country. 

Exchange visitors may opt to enroll in the Allegheny College health insurance plan through United Health Care, but must pay for the premium themselves.

Exchange Visitors are required to provide proof of insurance prior to arrival at Allegheny.