How do I bring an international scholar?

Keys:

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

B-1 Business Visitor

VWP Visa Waiver Program for Business (WB)

J-1 Exchange Visitor

Eligibility

  • Lecturer, speaker, independent researcher, short-term training, attend a scientific, educational, professional or business convention or conference
  • No benefit to ISU for research
  • No employer/employee relationship
  • Enrolled in ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization)
  • Lecturer, speaker, independent researcher, training
  • No benefit to ISU for research
  • No employer/employee relationship
  • Sufficient English language proficiency
  • No tenure-track, no clinical patient care
  • Paid or unpaid position

Maximum Length of Stay

  • 6 months
  • Extension possible through USCIS
  • 90 days
  • No extension possible
  • No change of status possible
  • 6 months for short-term scholar
  • 12 months for specialist (3 week minimum)

Estimated Time for Processing

  • 4-6 weeks to obtain visa (Canadians and Bermudians do not need visas)
  • 10 working days for Participation Agreement and Export Control Worksheet
  • 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

  • No request made
  • Cystart Form: Add New Person (if not a former ISU student, scholar or employee)
  • Cystart Form: Other Visiting Scholar/Employee
  • Other Forms: Export Control Worksheet
  • Other Forms: Participation Agreement (for ISSO only)
  • No request made
  • Cystart Form: Add New Person (if not a former ISU student, scholar or employee)
  • Cystart Form: Other Visiting Scholar/Employee
  • Other Forms: Export Control Worksheet
  • Other Forms: Participation Agreement (for ISSO only)
  • 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?

  • Host department
  • U.S. Embassy if currently abroad
  • Host department
  • Host department
  • ISSO
  • U.S. Embassy if currently abroad

Special Departmental Requirements

  • Report to ISSO when visit begins
  • Report to ISSO when visit ends as early departure may reduce health insurance costs
  • Report to ISSO when visit begins
  • Report to ISSO when visit ends as early departure may reduce health insurance costs
  • Report to ISSO when visit begins and ends
  • Monitor program activity, safety and well-being of the Exchange Visitor
  • Offer or make available cross-cultural activities and experiences

Notes

  • No salary or income permitted
  • May reimburse expenses incidental to visit
  • B-1 honorarium limited to 9-5-6 rule, contact ISSO Scholar Unit
  • No costs for department
  • No salary or income permitted
  • May reimburse expenses incidental to visit
  • WB honorarium limited to 9-5-6 rule, contact ISSO Scholar Unit
  • May be paid or self-funded
  • If subject to 212(e), cannot become H-1B
  • Specialist category very limited in use
  • Specialist category has 12-month bar to return as Exchange Visitor or Professor if stay over 6 months
  • $100 cost for each extension

Dependents (child under age 21, spouse)

  • Dependents apply for separate B-2 visitor visa
  • Dependents may not work
  • Dependents may not study
  • Dependents enter U.S. on WT (visa wavier for tourism status)
  • May not work
  • May not study
  • Dependents enter U.S. on J-2 visas
  • May apply for work authorization from USCIS
  • May study part time or full time

Keys:

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 (OPT)

H-1B Temporary Worker

Exchange Visitor Professor or Research Scholar Category

Eligibility

  • Completing U.S. degree (12-month OPT)
  • Currently on OPT (24-month extension)
  • ISU position must be directly related to most current U.S. degree
  • Position must require a bachelor's degree in a specific field
  • Minimum wage requirement as determined by U.S. Department of Labor
  • Requires employer sponsorship
  • Not eligible if Exchange Visitor subject to 212(e)
  • Paid position
  • Sufficient English language proficiency
  • Not eligible if previous Exchange Visitor or professor within past 24 months
  • No tenure-track, no clinical patient care
  • Paid or unpaid position

Maximum Length of Stay

  • 12 months
  • Additional 24 months if STEM field degree
  • 72 months
  • Can request up to 36 months at a time
  • 60 months (3 week minimum)

Estimated Time for Processing

  • 90-120 days
  • 4-6 months for initial H-1B
  • Additional 4-6 weeks if H-1B visa is needed
  • 10 working days for DS-2019
  • Additional 4-6 weeks if J-1 visa is needed
  • Additional 4-6 months for change of status within the U.S.

Costs to Department

  • $0
  • $750 ISSO Scholar Fee
    • $460 Application Fee to DHS
    • $500 Anti-Fraud Fee to DHS
    • $1,410 Prermium Processing Fee to DHS (optional for 15-day USCIS expedited processing)
  • $100 ISSO Scholar Fee

Departmental Request

  • No request made
  • Cystart Form: Add New Person (if not a former ISU student, scholar or employee)
  • Cystart Form: Other Visiting Scholar/Employee
  • Other Forms: Export Control Worksheet
  • Request made through Cystart
  • Cystart Form: Add New Person (if not a former ISU student, scholar or employee)
  • Cystart Form: H-1B Employee Application
  • Other Forms: Export Control Worksheet
  • Request made through Cystart
  • Cystart Form: Add New Person (if not a former ISU student, scholar or employee)
  • Cystart Form: J-1 Application
  • Other Forms: Export Control Worksheet

Who is Involved?

  • U.S. school from which student graduated
  • USCIS
  • Hiring department
  • ISSO
  • DOL and USCIS
  • U.S. Embassy if candidate is abroad
  • Hiring department
  • ISSO
  • U.S. Embassy if candidate is abroad

Special Departmental Requirements

  • Report to ISSO when employment ends
  • STEM OPT requires training plan
  • STEM OPT requires monitoring of progress and reporting of changes to training plan
  • STEM OPT requires self-evaluations which employer approves
  • Report to ISSO when employment ends or before change in position
  • Offer paid return transportation costs to home country of employee if employer terminates job prior to end of approved H-1B status
  • Monitor work hours for employment less than 40 hours per week
  • Report to ISSO when employment ends
  • Monitor J program activity, safety and well-being of the Exchange Visitor
  • Offer or make available cross-cultural activities and experiences
  • Apply for DS-2019 in Cystart

Notes

  • Position must be related to degree
  • No more than 90 days of unemployment during 12-month OPT
  • Must be paid for 24-month STEM OPT
  • Must work at least 20 hours per week
  • USCIS processing times can vary widely
  • $1,075 cost for each extension
  • May be paid or self-funded
  • If subject to 212(e), cannot become H-1B
  • 24-month bar to repeat participation
  • $100 cost for each extension

Dependents (child under age 21, spouse)

  • Dependents enter U.S. on F-2 visas
  • Not eligible for work
  • May study part time
  • May study full time if avocational only
  • Dependents enter U.S. on H-4 visas
  • Not eligible to work
  • May study part time or full time
  • Dependents enter U.S. on J-2 visas
  • May apply for work authorization from USCIS
  • May study part time or full time

Nonimmigrant Category

TN - NAFTA Treaty with Canada and Mexico

E-3 - AUSFTA - [Australian] Free Trade Agreement

O-1

Eligibility

  • Citizens of Canada or Mexico
  • Profession on list in NAFTA Treaty
  • Profession on list in NAFTA Treaty
  • Must possess minimum qualification for profession
  • Stay must be temporary in nature
  • Citizen of Australia
  • Position must be in a specialty occupation
  • Minimum wage requirement as determined by U.S. Department of Labor
  • Stay must be temporary in nature
  • Achieved and sustained national or international acclaim for extraordinary ability
  • Employment in extraordinary ability area
  • Stay must be temporary in nature
  • Option even if J-1 visa subject to 212(e)

Length of Stay

  • Admitted to U.S. for up to 3 years initially
  • Extensions for up to 3 years at a time
  • No limit (but stay remains temporary)
  • Can request up to 24 months for initial E-3
  • No limit (but stay remains temporary)
  • Can request up to 36 months for initial O-1
  • Extensions for up to 12 months at a time
  • No limit (but stay remains temporary)

Estimated Time for Processing

  • 1-2 weeks for Canadians as no visa needed
  • 1 month for Mexicans for TN visa
  • 4-6 months if change of status within U.S.
  • 1 month if currently abroad
  • 4-6 months if change of status within U.S.
  • Additional 4-6 weeks for E-3 visa if abroad
  • 4-6 months for initial O-1
  • Additional 4-6 weeks for O-1 visa, if needed

Costs to Department

  • $0
  • $1,210 for change of status within the U.S.
  • $1,210 for extension of current TN status within the U.S.

Fees if currently in U.S. in another status:

  • $750 ISSO Scholar Fee
    • $460 Application Fee to DHS
    • $2,500 Prermium Processing Fee to DHS (optional for 15-day USCIS expedited processing)
  • $750 ISSO Scholar Fee
  • $460 Application Fee to DHS
  • $2,500 Prermium Processing Fee to DHS (optional for 15-day USCIS expedited processing)

Departmental Request

  • No request made unless future employee is in the U.S. and wants to request a change of nonimmigrant status
  • Cystart Form: Add New Person (if not a former ISU student, scholar or employee)
  • Cystart Form: Other Visiting Scholar/Employee
  • Other Forms: Export Control Worksheet
  • Paper Application
  • Cystart Form: Add New Person (if not a former ISU student, scholar or employee)
  • Cystart Form: Other Visiting Scholar/Employee
  • Other Forms: Export Control Worksheet
  • Request made through Cystart
  • Cystart Form: Add New Person (if not a former ISU student, scholar or employee)
  • Cystart Form: Exchange Visitor Scholar Application
  • Other Forms: Export Control Worksheet

Who is Involved?

  • Hiring department
  • US Embassy for Mexicans abroad
  • USCIS if currently in the U.S.
  • Hiring department
  • ISSO
  • DOL and USCIS
  • U.S. Embassy if candidate is abroad
  • Hiring department
  • Writers of supporting documentation
  • ISSO
  • U.S. Embassy if currently abroad

Departmental Requirements

  • Must meet prevailing wage requirement
  • $1,210 for change of status within the U.S.
  • $1,210 for extension of current TN status within the U.S.
  • Offer paid return transportation to home country of employee if employer terminates job prior to end of approved O-1 status (dept. choice)
   

Notes

  • Must prepare employment offer letter
  • $1,210 to extend if TN is not traveling
  • $1,210 for each extension
  • Individual must provide substantial documentation/evidence of extraordinary ability
  • Extensions limited to one year at a time
  • $1,210 for each extension
  • Must apply for O-1 visa overseas if subject to 212(e)

Dependents (child under age 21, spouse)

  • Dependents enter U.S. on TD visas (visas not required of Canadian citizens
  • Not eligible for work
  • May study part time or full time
  • Dependents enter U.S. on E-3 visas
  • Eligible to apply for work authorization from USCIS
  • May study part time or full time
  • Dependents enter U.S. on O-3 visas
  • Not eligible for work
  • May study part time or full time

Requirement

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

"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."


Documentation

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


(1): Standardized English Test: TOEFL iBT, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test

Iowa State University requires a minimum score of 40 for the TOEFL iBT (internet-based test), 5.0 for the IELTS and 70 for the Duolingo English Test. 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 https://english3.com/j1-interview.php 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 2022

From August 1, 2021 through July 31, 2022, Iowa State University will require financial support of at least $1,586 per month for issuance of Form DS-2019 to a [J-1] Exchange Visitor. This amount includes $1,342 for basic living expenses plus $244 per month for 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

$1,342 $244 $1,586

Exchange Visitor and Spouse

$1,815 $510 $2,325

Exchange Visitor and Child

$1,815* $435 $2,250

J-1 and Family

$2,288* $702 $2,990

*Add $473 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.

Bars

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 Exchange Visitor or professor 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 https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/study-exchange/exchange.html 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.