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Department Information


Bringing an International Visitor to Ohio University

Ohio University has a long tradition of bringing international visitors to campus for academic exchange.  These visitors often require support from the university in order to obtain the necessary immigration documents to enter or remain in the US, and in some cases, to be employed by the university.  International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS) provides this support for departments and international visitors.  This information has been prepared to help departments with the process of inviting and hosting an international visitor.

Part I: General immigration information


It is important to plan ahead and initiate the process to bring an Exchange Visitor to OHIO as far in advance as possible. It will take at several months from the point of contacting ISFS to request a DS2019 to the Exchange Visitor arriving on campus. This process can be longer depending on the academic discipline and country of citizenship for the Exchange Visitor.

J-1 Category

International visitors are included in the Exchange Visitor Program, which allows the visitor to apply for a J-1 visa to enter the US.  The relevant J categories are listed below.  The final determination of the category will be made by ISFS in conjunction with the visitor and the hosting department.


Minimum length of stay

Maximum length of stay

Activities at Ohio University

J-1 Short-term scholar


6 months*

lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills

J-1 Professor**

3 weeks

5 years*

primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting; may also conduct research

J-1 Research Scholar**

3 weeks

5 years*

primarily conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project, may also teach or lecture



* The initial stay may be for less than the maximum stay and extended as needed to the maximum stay. 

**The J-1 Professor and J-1 Research Scholar are subject to the following restrictions :

  • the visitor’s position at the university may not be tenure track;
  • the visitor may not have been in a J status of professor or researcher for 24 months prior to the start of their visit to Ohio University, unless the visitor is currently in the US and transferring a SEVIS record to Ohio University;
  • the visitor will not be allowed to return to the US for 24 months as a J-1 visiting professor or research scholar following the program end date.





International visitors included in the Exchange Visitor Program may request immigration documents for their dependents to travel to the US with them.  Dependents include spouses and children under the age of 21.

Health Insurance

International visitors included in the Exchange Visitor Program must comply with the Department of State regulations regarding health insurance (see Ohio University Exchange Visitor Health Insurance Requirements and Agreement ).  This includes any dependents who accompany the visitor.

Financial Support Documents

International visitors included in the Exchange Visitor Program must provide financial documents for themselves and any accompanying dependents.  Any financial support/salary from Ohio University should be included.

Two-year home residency requirement

Certain international visitors included in the Exchange Visitor Program will be subject to a requirement that they return to their home country for two years before being allowed to return to the US in certain immigration statuses.  This requirement is most common for international visitors receiving financial support from their home government or the US government and for international visitors on their country’s “Skills List”.  Please consult with ISFS if more information is needed.


English language proficiency

The US government requires Ohio University to assess a prospective Exchange Visitor’s level of English proficiency to ensure the Exchange Visitor possesses “sufficient proficiency in the English language, as determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency, successfully to participate in his or her program and to function on a day-to-day basis.”

The department hosting the Exchange Visitor must assess the individual’s English language proficiency as part of the application process. Departments can choose one of the four options below:

  1. Provide a letter signed by the faculty/staff host and the department chair/director stating that the Exchange Visitor is a native speaker of English
  2. Provide the results of a recognized English proficiency test (TOEFL, IELTs, etc.) demonstrating that the Exchange Visitor’s proficiency meets or exceeds the program's requirement. Test results must be no more than three years old; include the test results with the Exchange Visitor application.
  3. Provide a signed document from an academic institution or English language school verifying the Exchange Visitor’s English proficiency meets or exceeds the program's requirement. The letter must be no more than three years old; a copy of the letter should be included with the Exchange Visitor application.
  4. Provide a written summary of an in-person, videoconference, or telephone interview of the Exchange Visitor demonstrating that the Exchange Visitor’s proficiency meets or exceeds the regulatory requirement.  The Physics Department prepared a helpful guidance  document.  It is shared with their permission.



Part II: University procedures

To request immigration documents for an international visitor, the department must complete an “Application for Exchange Visitor” available at the bottom of this page.  Once the completed application, invitation letter, and supporting financial documents are submitted to ISFS, a Form DS2019 will be issued for the international visitor and any dependents.  This process may take several weeks to complete, depending on how quickly the application form can be completed.

It is the responsibility of the sponsoring department to mail the DS-2019 to the Exchange Visitor.

When the international visitor receives the Form DS-2019, he or she will need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee of $220 (information included with the DS-2019) and apply for a J-1 visa to enter the US.  Dependents do not need to pay the SEVIS fee; they do need to apply for J-2 visas.  This may also take several weeks.

IMPORTANT :  The international visitor may enter the US up to 30 days prior to the start date on the DS-2019.  The Exchange Visitor must report to ISFS within 3 business days of entering the US.  If the visitor is not able to enter the US and report to ISFS during this window, ISFS will issue an updated DS-2019 with a later start date.  Please contact ISFS if this situation arises.

After arriving at Ohio University, the international visitor and the department host/contact must report the arrival to ISFS and schedule a new scholar orientation meeting.  The international visitor must present their immigration documents including their passport, DS-2019 and I-94 when reporting their arrival. The international visitor must also either bring proof of the required health insurance or purchase university coverage. The orientation meeting will include information about maintaining immigration status, health insurance, and applying for a Social Security Number.

The hosting department should contact ISFS at least one month prior to the end date on the visitor’s DS2019 in the event an extension is needed.  The extension request form can be found at the bottom of this page.  

The department must notify ISFS when the visitor departs the university early or at the end of their program.

The international visitor should notify ISFS prior to any temporary trips outside the US so staff may review their immigration documents.




Department Forms

To request visa documents for a new scholar, please download and complete the J-1 Visitor Application form.  Please note that pages 6 - 9 must be completed by the scholar.  If you are inviting the scholar for 6 months or less, you will also need to include the Short Term Scholar Supplement form.  

To request an extension of the J-1 program for one of your current Exchange Visitors, please download and complete the Department Application for J-1 Extension form.  Please note that the last page must be signed by the scholar.





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