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Smith College has been designated by the Department of State and USIA as a sponsor of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. The purpose of this program is to promote international education exchanges and collaboration among universities around the world. The college is permitted to sponsor visitors under the following categories: Professor, Research Scholar, Short-term Scholar or Student. It is not possible to change from one category of the J-1 visa to another category within the United States.

Program Details

Certain criteria must be met in order for the college to sponsor a visitor. We will make a decision by reviewing the official appointment or invitation letter issued by the Office of the Provost/Dean of Faculty and will issue the scholar a Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility). All J-1 program participants are required to pursue the objectives stated in the DS-2019 form, which is based on their appointment letters from Smith.

Participants are subject to the following conditions:

  • Has not been physically present in the United States in any J status for more than six months of the previous 12 months. In most cases J-1 holders may not accept paid employment outside Smith College unless it is an integral part of the program described in form DS-2019.
  • Has not completed a J-1 Research Scholar/Professor category program in the previous 24 months. (If a visa transfer is desired, the scholar must work with the ISSO and their current international office to arrange a smooth transition).

All exchange visitors and their dependents must have health insurance coverage for illness and accidents during the entire period of time they are on the J visas. Smith College will commondly supplement any private or governmental insurance policy for the primary J-1 visa holder with a U.S. insurance policy during their stay at Smith. Insurance coverage for dependents is the responsibility of the primary J-1 holder.

Sponsors must require that all exchange visitors (as well as their accompanying spouses and dependents) have insurance in effect that covers them for sickness or accidents during the time of their exchange visitor program.  The recent rule increases the minimum coverage to meet today’s medical insurance needs.  As of May 15, 2015, minimum coverage must provide medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness; repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000; expenses associated with medical evacuation to the exchange visitor’s home country in the amount of $50,000; and deductibles cannot exceed $500 per accident or illness (Section 62.14(a)).  Inadequate insurance coverage may be catastrophic for an individual exchange visitor. Thus, the Department increased the requirements.

Program participants and their dependents are required to have medical insurance coverage with the following minimum benefits [22 CFR 62.14].

  • 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.

Sponsors are to require that their participants (and any dependents entering the United States as holders of a J-2 visa) have insurance in effect during the period of time they are in the sponsor's program. An insurance policy secured to meet the benefits requirements 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. For other options, see [22 CFR 62.14].

Program regulations also discuss coverage through HMOs and self-insurance of the above requirements by federal, state or local government agencies, state colleges and universities, and public community colleges, if permitted by law. Refer to [22 CFR 62.14] for additional information.

Initial programs for professors and research scholars must not exceed three years. Extensions of up to six months are permitted for the purpose of completing a specific project or research activity.

Professors/Research Scholars may transfer from or to Smith College if the purpose of the transfer is to complete the initial objective for which they were admitted, provided they remain in the same J category. Permission to transfer is given by the sponsoring institution.

Short-term Scholars (faculty who are invited to teach and/or conduct research for a period of six months or less) are not permitted extensions.

Spouses and unmarried minor children (under the age of 21) of an exchange visitor are issued J-2 visas. The primary holder of the J-1 visa must show evidence of adequate funding for the support of the dependent children and spouse. J-2 visa holders may apply to USCIS for work permission after arriving in the United States.


To travel to Smith, you will always need your:

  • Passport: must be valid for at least 6 months at all times
  • Visa*: valid J-1 entry visa which will be glued inside your passport. If you renew your passport, your valid visa may be in your old passport.
  • DS-2019: original SEVIS DS-2019 to enter the United States as a J-1 scholar.

*Canadian citizens do not need an entry visa in their passport to be admitted as a scholar. Instead, they must show their DS-2019 and hiring letter at the border to ensure entry in J-1 status. For Canadian land border crossings, the ISSO highly recommends going into the CBP office at the border to ensure an entry stamp in your passport.

Travel Signatures

Each year, the ISSO must sign your DS-2019 to validate it for international travel. A travel signature will be valid for 12 months. If you plan to apply for a new visa while at home, your DS-2019 should be signed within the last six months.