How do I bring a visiting student for research or an internship?


DHS = U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Overarching U.S. government agency under which USCIS falls

DOL = U.S. Department of Labor, determines prevailing wage, certifies labor certification applications

USCIS = U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Adjudicates immigration applications such as H-1B and F-1 OPT

Nonimmigrant Category

F-1 Student Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

J-1 Exchange Visitor Student on Academic Training

J-1 Exchange Visitor Student Intern


  • Enrolled at a U.S. college or university
  • Integral part of an established curriculum
  • Directly related to current U.S. degree
  • Enrolled at a U.S. college or university
  • Tied directly to current program objective at U.S. school
  • Enrolled in a degree program at a foreign institution where will return to continue
  • Sufficient English language proficiency
  • Internship must fulfill educational objectives for current degree program
  • No clinical patient care or contact
  • Internship is a minimum of 32 hours/week

Maximum Length of Stay

  • Generally, 12 months

Depends on time spent in academic program as cannot exceed this time

  • Up to 18 months if completing bachelor's or master's degree
  • Up to 36 months if completing doctorate
  • 12 months (3 week minimum)

Estimated Time for Processing

  • 10-20 working days
  • 10-20 working days
  • 10 working days for DS-2019
  • Additional 4-6 weeks if need J-1 visa

Costs to Department

  • $0
  • $0
  • $100 ISSO Scholar Fee

Departmental Request

  • Must issue job offer letter
  • Request made through Cystart
  • Cystart Form: Add New Person (if not a former ISU student, scholar or employee)
  • Cystart Form: Exchange Visitor Application
  • Other Forms: Export Control Worksheet
  • Other Forms: Participation Agreement (for unpaid scholars)

Who is Involved?

  • U.S. school at which student will be enrolled throughout the visit to ISU
  • School or organization which issued the DS-2019 for the J-1 program (program sponsor)
  • Department
  • ISSO
  • U.S. Embassy if currently abroad

Special Departmental Requirements

  • Must issue job offer letter
  • Monitor internship objectives
  • Complete evaluations every six months


  • Home institution determines if integral/related to degree
  • May be paid or unpaid
  • May be part time or full time
  • School or organization determines if related to J program
  • May be paid or unpaid
  • Additional requirements determined by student's current institution or organization
  • May be paid or unpaid
  • If subject to 212(e), cannot become H-1B
  • 12-month bar to return as Exchange Visitor professor or research scholar
  • $100 cost for each extension

Dependents (child under age 21, spouse)

  • Dependents enter U.S. in F-2 status
  • Not eligible to work
  • May study part time
  • May study full time if advocational only
  • Dependents enter U.S. in J-2 status
  • MMay apply for work authorization from USCIS
  • May study part time or full time
  • Dependents enter U.S. in J-2 status
  • May apply for work authorization from USCIS
  • May study part time or full time


The U.S. Department of State requires all [J-1] Exchange Visitors to demonstrate sufficient proficiency in the English language, as determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency, to successfully participate in his or her program activity and to function on a day-to-day basis. To understand the reason this requirement is now being more closely monitored by the Department of State, it is important to review the purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program (underlined text is our emphasis).

22 C.F.R. § 62.20(b)


"Purpose. The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program, in part, is to foster the exchange of ideas between Americans and foreign nationals and to stimulate international collaborative teaching, lecturing and research efforts. The exchange of professors and research scholars promotes the exchange of ideas, research, mutual enrichment, and linkages between research and educational institutions in the United States and foreign countries. It does so by providing foreign professors and research scholars the opportunity to engage in research, teaching, and lecturing with their American colleagues, to participate actively in cross-cultural activities with Americans, and ultimately to share with their countrymen their experiences and increased knowledge of the United States and their substantive fields."


Following Department of State guidelines, ISSO offers several options to demonstrate required English language proficiency.

(1): Standardized English Test: TOEFL iBT, IELTS, Duolingo English Test, PTE Academic, or Cambridge English Assessment

Iowa State University requires a minimum score of 40 for the TOEFL iBT (internet-based test), 5.0 for the IELTS, 70 for the Duolingo English Test, 38 for the PTE Academic, and 154 for the Cambridge English Assessment. Scores should be no older than 2 years.

(2): English3 Interview

The interview is conducted online as part of the J-1 Cystart request process. Please see for more information.

(3): Earned degree from a school where the language of instruction was English

The applicant must provide a copy of the diploma and documentation that the language of instruction for his/her degree program was English.

(4): Citizen of a country in which English is the ONLY OFFICIAL language

This country list is the same used by ISU Admissions when determining which students must provide a TOEFL score as part of the admissions process.

Financial Requirements for FY 2023

From August 1, 2022 through July 31, 2023, Iowa State University will require financial support as shown below for issuance of Form DS-2019 to a [J-1] Exchange Visitor. These monthly amounts are required minimums to cover basic living expenses plus the mandatory health insurance premiums for exchange visitors not eligible for benefits as an ISU employee. Required funding amounts for Exchange Visitors are tied to Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines and will be adjusted each August 1st to incorporate fluctuations in the cost of living and health insurance premiums.


Basic Living Expense

Health Insurance

Monthly Total

Single Exchange Visitor

$1,416 $265 $1,681

Exchange Visitor and Spouse

$1,908 $554 $2,462

Exchange Visitor and Child

$1,908* $470 $2,378

J-1 and Family

$2,399* $759 $3,158

*Add $492 per month for each additional child beyond the first child.

Health Insurance Requirements

Effective July 1, 2019, Exchange Visitor applicants who will not be eligible for benefits as an ISU employee must enroll in the Iowa State University Student and Scholar Health Insurance Program.


Twelve Month Bar

Any individual who has been in the United States for more than six months in the previous year in J-1 status is not eligible to enter the United States as a J-1 exchange visitor in the research scholar or professor categories for a 12-month period. Time spent in the J-1 short-term scholar category does not count towards the 12-month bar. Individuals subject to the 12-month bar may return to the U.S. with another visa type or as a J-1 in another category such as short-term scholar or student. Return as an H-1B temporary worker, however, would not be possible if subject to 212(e) as explained below.

Twenty-Four Month Bar on Repeat Participation

When an exchange visitor arrives in the United States in J-1 status in the research scholar or professor category a 5-year eligibility "window" opens. When the program ends the exchange visitor becomes subject to a 24-month bar on repeat participation as a J-1 exchange visitor in the research scholar or professor categories. This is true even if the program is less than 5 years in length. This 24-month bar means that the exchange visitor will not be able to start a new research scholar or professor program at any institution in the United States until two years have passed from the completion date of the previous program. Those two years may be spent outside the United States or in the United States in another immigration status. Return as an H-1B temporary worker, however, would not be possible if subject to 212(e) as explained below.

Bars Handout

Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement, aka Two Year Rule of 212(e)

Information on 212(e) from U.S. Department of State website at but edited for tense.

What is 212(e)?

When a J-1 Exchange Visitor (EV) agrees to participate in an Exchange Visitor Program and the program falls under the conditions explained below, the EV will be subject to the two-year home-country physical presence (foreign residence) requirement. This means the EV will be required to return to the EV's home country for two years at the end of the exchange visitor program. This requirement under immigration law is based on Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Which J-1 Exchange Visitors would be subject to 212(e)?

Two-year Home-country Physical Presence Requirement Conditions - An exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement if the following conditions exist:

  • Government funded exchange program - The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the U.S. government or the government of the exchange visitor's nationality or last residence;
  • Graduate medical education or training - The exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training;
  • Specialized knowledge or skill: Skills List - The exchange visitor is a national or permanent resident of a country which has deemed the field of specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the country, as shown on the Exchange Visitor Skills List. Review the Exchange Visitor Skills List 2009.

How does it affect a J-1 Exchange Visitor?

Restrictions - When an EV is subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, the EV must return the EV's home country for a cumulative total period of at least two years before the EV can do any of the following:

  • Change status while in the United States to the nonimmigrant categories of temporary worker (H) or intracompany transferee (L);
  • Adjust status while in the United States to immigrant visa/lawful permanent resident status (LPR);
  • Receive an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate; or
  • Receive a temporary worker (H), intracompany transferee (L), or fiancé (K) visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Is there an alternative to spending two-years in the home country?

If the EV is not able to fulfill the home country presence requirement, the EV may be able to apply for a waiver.