The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

The intent and purpose of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) is "to exchange persons and ideas and to build mutual understanding among peoples and cultures.”

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is a designated sponsor of the EVP. Exchange visitors are selected by an MUSC department to participate in a particular program/activity.

J-1 is not an employment status. However, exchange visitors may be temporarily employed by MUSC as long as their primary activities are teaching, lecturing, observing, or conducting research.

Eligibility Requirements for All Exchange Visitors

  • Minimum of a bachelor’s degree (except for the student categories)
  • Sufficient funding
  • Sufficient knowledge of the English language to undertake the selected program
  • Intent to pursue appropriate activity
  • Intent to return to home country
  • Medical insurance, meeting the minimum requirements outlined in 22 CFR§62.14
  • Not subject to the 12 or 24 month bar for repeat J-1 participation

SEVIS & Form DS-2019

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, or SEVIS, is a database that provides up-to-date information on F, M, and J nonimmigrants. SEVIS makes it easier for participating schools and exchange visitor programs to collect and manage information on and report on international students, exchange visitors, and their dependents. The reporting and monitoring of these nonimmigrants while in the United States is mandated by US law.

Once MUSC has determined that an exchange visitor meets the eligibility criteria for a J-1 EVP, MUSC will issue a Form DS-2019, the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status. This form indicates that MUSC will sponsor the exchange visitor’s stay in the US to pursue the program activities. The exchange visitor will need this form to apply for a J-1 visa at a US embassy or consulate. If the J-1 has dependent family members who will be accompanying the principal J-1 EV to the US, MUSC will also need to issue a DS-2019 for each dependent for the purposes of applying for J-2 visas (dependent visas).

At MUSC, the Center for Global Health administers the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program and interacts with the SEVIS system on behalf of MUSC and exchange visitors. Program officials authorized to access the SEVIS system for J-1 exchange visitors are identified as Responsible Officers (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officers (ARO). At MUSC, the program officials can be found within the Center for Global Health—Denise R. Smith is the RO and Erin J. Huley is the ARO.

Exchange Visitor Categories

MUSC is authorized by the US Department of State to sponsor the following exchange visitor categories:

Exchange Visitor Category - Professor or Research Scholar
Minimum Duration: Three (3) weeks
Maximum Duration: Five (5) years (continuous)

Exchange Visitor Category - Short-Term Scholar
Minimum Duration: n/a
Maximum Duration: Six (6) months

Exchange Visitor Category - Specialist
Minimum Duration: Three (3) weeks
Maximum Duration: One (1) year

Exchange Visitor Category - Student Non-Degree
Minimum Duration: Three (3) weeks
Maximum Duration: Two (2) years 

Exchange Visitor Category - Student (Degree-Seeking)
Minimum Duration: Three (3) weeks
Maximum Duration: N/A  

Exchange Visitor Category - Student Intern
Minimum Duration: Three (3) weeks
Maximum Duration: One (1) year

Professor or Research Scholar

Professor and Research Scholar are two separate categories, but because they are related, the regulations governing them are contained in the same subsection. A Professor is defined as an individual engaging primarily in teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting. A Professor may also conduct research, unless disallowed by the sponsor. A Research Scholar is defined as an individual primarily conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project. The Research Scholar may also teach or lecture, unless disallowed by the sponsor.

Short-Term Scholar

A Professor, Research Scholar, or a person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the US on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, participating in collaborative research, or demonstrating special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions, or similar types of institutions. The Short-Term Scholar category is limited to a total duration of 6 months – extensions beyond 6 months are not permitted within the Short-Term Scholar category.


An individual who is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill coming to the United States for observing, consulting, or demonstrating special skills.

Student Non-Degree

An individual who is enrolled as a degree-seeking graduate student at an institution in his or her home country and is maintaining satisfactory advancement towards the completion of his or her academic degree. This international student has been invited to conduct short-term doctoral research or participate in a "prescribed course of study" such as a mentored or independent research project or master’s research collaborations with a faculty member at MUSC. The program must be for the purposes of satisfying the degree requirements at the student’s home institution.

To qualify for the Student Non-Degree category, the EVP must also meet one of the following four criteria:

  • Financed directly or indirectly by the US government, the student's home government, or an international organization of which the United States is a member by treaty or statute
  • Carried out pursuant to an agreement between the US government and a foreign government
  • Carried out pursuant to a written agreement between:
    • An American and foreign educational institution; or
    • An American educational institution and a foreign government; or
    • US state or local government and a foreign government
  • The student is supported substantially by funding from any source other than personal or family funds

Student (Degree Seeking)

This category is for students who have applied and been accepted by MUSC into a particular degree program. As with the Student Non-Degree category, college and university students are eligible for the J-1 exchange visitor program only if they or their program meets one of the specific four criteria outlined above.

A J-1 student who is enrolled in a degree program can participate in the EVP as long as he or she is either:

  • Studying at the post-secondary accredited academic institution listed on his or her Form DS-2019, pursuing a full course of study, and maintaining satisfactory advancement towards the completion of the student's academic program; or
  • Participating in an authorized academic training program

This J-1 category is seldom used at MUSC. In the majority of cases, international students at MUSC are sponsored under the F-1 student visa classification.

Student Intern

The Student Intern category is available to foreign students currently enrolled in and pursuing a degree at a postsecondary academic institution outside the United States. This J-1 category is different from the other J-1 categories in that it is strictly monitored at the beginning, middle, and end of the internship. The internship in the US must fulfill the educational objectives for the student’s current degree program at his or her home institution. The intent of this category is to bridge the gap between formal education and practical work experience. The internship may consist of no more than 20 percent clerical work and cannot duplicate a student's prior experience. A student internship must be full time (at least 32 hours per week) and the Student Intern's direct supervisor will be required to make a written evaluation of the internship at the conclusion. If the internship is more than 6 months in duration, the supervisor will also be required to make a written evaluation at the mid-point of the internship. An internship cannot place the Student Intern in a clinical position or have the Student Intern engaging in any other kind of work that involves patient care or contact, including any work that would require Student Interns to provide therapy, medication, or other clinical or medical care (e.g., sports or physical therapy, psychological counseling, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, social work, speech therapy, or early childhood education).

To be eligible for the Student Intern category, a foreign student must:

  • Be currently enrolled in and pursuing a degree at an accredited postsecondary academic institution outside the United States
  • Be in the United States primarily to engage in a student internship program rather than to engage in employment or provide services to an employer
  • Be in good academic standing at his or her home institution outside the United States
  • Return to his or her academic program outside the United States and fulfill his or her education requirements for that institution after completion of the student internship program