J-1 Visiting Scholar Information

As defined below, visiting professors, research scholars and short-term scholars are eligible to participate in the Western Michigan University Exchange Visitor Program.

According to the Department of State (DOS), the purpose of the program is to foster the exchange of ideas between Americans and foreign nationals and to stimulate international collaborative teaching and research efforts. The exchange of visiting scholars promotes interchange, mutual enrichment, and linkages between research and educational institutions in the United States and foreign countries. Participants in this program will enter the U.S. with a J-1 visa, identified as “exchange visitors.” Their activities are primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or conducting research.

EXPORT CONTROL REQUIREMENTS: Please note that J-1 visiting scholar requests at WMU first require clearance from the WMU Export Control Committee at the Office of the Vice President for Research. The WMU sponsoring department must contact OVPR for an Export Control decision by phone at (269) 387-8293 or via email at research-compliance@wmich.edu. For more information, see here

Please see the Minimum Funding Requirements for J-1 Exchange Visitors chart below to determine minimum financial support required to host an Exchange Visitor (EV) and his/her dependents. These funds may come from WMU, an organization, or the individual may be supported by his or her own resources.

Minimum Funding Requirements for J-1 Exchange Visitors

Academic Year
(8 months)
Calendar Year
(12 months)
Room and Board
Health Insurance
$1,000 and up
$1,500 and up

An additional $4,000 per each spouse or child will be required if the scholar plans to bring his/her dependents. For a J-1 stay of less than an academic year, please prorate based on the 12-month funding requirements. The EV must also be prepared to meet increasing costs due to inflation and other fluctuating economic conditions on a continuing basis.
If the EV is not a salaried employee at WMU, International Admissions and Services (IAS) needs to make sure that he/she has enough funding to cover the entire period of stay.

For example, if the EV will be at WMU for four years, he/she should provide proof of funding for $71,700 (= 4 x $17,925, which is the minimum funding requirement for 12 months) plus funding for dependents if any.

If the EV is funded by an organization, the funding promise letter from the organization should list the entire funding required or the annual funding, in addition to the length of its financial sponsorship for the EV.

For example, the letter could list $71,700 for all four years as in the previous case; or it could state $17,925 per year.

If the funding is not adequate, IAS will issue Form DS-2019 for the period which could be covered by the funding available at the time of DS-2019 issuance. Then, the EV can later apply for an extension with a new financial document that is less than six months old.

Unlike any other immigration categories, the U.S. Department of State federally mandates all J-1 and J-2 status holders to carry adequate health insurance coverage. The EV must purchase insurance for him/herself and his/her J-2 dependents immediately upon arrival to the U.S. If the EV and/or dependents fail to maintain the mandatory health insurance coverage, they will be in violation of federal immigration regulations; will be subject to termination as a participant; and must leave the U.S. immediately.
Insurance coverage must meet the following:

1. Medical insurance must cover the entire period of participation in the Exchange Visitor program.

2. Medical benefits must provide a minimum of $50,000 per accident or illness.

3. Medical evacuation must be covered in the amount of $10,000, minimum. (Medical evacuation is emergency medical transportation to the home country.)

4. Repatriation must be covered in the amount of $7,500, minimum. (In the unfortunate event of death, repatriation is the transportation of remains back to the home country.)

5. The deductible must not exceed $500 per accident or illness.

Participants are accepted to the program under the following categories:

  • Professor - a professor is an individual primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting. A professor may also conduct research. Minimum stay of three weeks required. Maximum stay of five years.
  • Research Scholar - a research scholar is an individual primarily conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project. The research scholar may also teach or lecture. Minimum stay of three weeks required. Maximum stay of five years.
  • Short-term Scholar - a short-term scholar is an individual coming to the United States for a period of up to six months to lecture, observe, consult, and participate in seminars, workshops, conferences, study tours, professional meetings, or similar types of educational and professional activities. No minimum stay required.  Maximum stay of 6 months.

A foreign national is ineligible to participate in a professor/research scholar exchange program if he or she has held J nonimmigrant status within the 12-month period immediately preceding the start of the exchange program. This 12-month bar applies to spouses and dependents as well as principal nonimmigrants.

The immigration regulation prohibits foreign nationals from engaging in repeat participation in the J-1 professor/research scholar exchange program category for a period of two years immediately following the completion of his/her J-1 professor/research scholar program participation although a total of his/her stay as a J-1 professor or research scholar was less than five years allowed (i.e. Two-Year bar). For more information, please contact IAS.

Please note that once J-1/J-2 receives either a waiver approval notice (from DHS/USCIS) or a waiver recommendation (by DOS), he/she is no longer eligible for any extensions, transfers, etc., as he/she is no longer considered as a bona fide exchange visitor by the Department of State, which oversees the J exchange visitor program. He/she can, of course, finish his/her current exchange program until the end date listed on the current DS-2019. Thus, a J-1/J-2 should plan the timing of a waiver application carefully.

The appointment to a position should be temporary, even if the position itself is permanent. The EV should not be a candidate for tenure in a tenure-track position. (22 CFR 514.20d) Professors and Research Scholars may give occasional lectures and short-term consultations incidental to their primary activities. If such activities will involve wages or other remuneration, the scholar must obtain written authorization in advance from the IAS.


1. The application consists of two parts (Part A and Part B). Part A is to be completed by the WMU host department or college. Part B is to be completed by the prospective exchange visitor. Please use a computer or typewriter.

2. Please submit the application forms to IAS along with:

  • Copy of Western Michigan University’s Letter of Offer of employment
  • Copy of WMU’s invitation letter, if funded by source other than WMU
  • Certified financial document, if funded by source other than WMU
  • Copies of previous DS-2019/IAP-66s, if any
  • Copy of his/her resume indicating a completion of a bachelor’s degree (minimum) in a related field
    • Copy of his/her passport and I-94 card, if any
  • If requesting J-2 dependent DS-2019(s), attach proof of relationship such as a marriage or birth certificate
  • If requesting J-2 dependent DS-2019(s), attach a copy of the dependent’s passport and I-94 card, if any

3. A letter of appointment or invitation must accompany all DS-2019 requests. The letter must state: (1) objectives of the visit; (2) dates of appointment/visit; (3) site of visit; (4) name and title of WMU faculty who will oversee/supervise the visit; and, (5) terms of financial arrangements.

NOTE: The U.S. Department of State regulations require that all J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents carry a comprehensive health plan for the duration of their visit. WMU Employee Health Insurance Plan does NOT include Repatriation and Medical Evacuation Insurance. Thus, J-1/J-2 must purchase it separately and provide proof to IAS.