Exchange Visitor Program

Information for Host Departments and Exchange Visitors

The J1 Exchange Visitor visa is the most common visa for visiting academic staff to Cornell University. It is relatively easy to process and visitors may be paid a salary or self-funded. Please note that the purpose of this visa is for academic exchange and is NOT available for tenure track positions. Also, please note that scholars from some countries may be subject to the two-year home country residence requirement.

Maximum Time Limits

  • Professors and Researchers: Up to five years.
  • Short-term Scholars: Up to six months. Extensions can be made within the six months, but the length of the entire visit can not exceed six months. It is unlikely that visitors will be able to change their status to another immigration status from within the US.

Exchange Visitor Categories

  • Professors and Researcher Scholars: May be paid a salary, or self-funded. They must be engaged in teaching or research and must have an academic appointment or qualifying internship  (see full policy on interns). Masters or PhD required for this Exchange Visitor category. All Professor/Research Scholars, are expected to hold advanced degrees and be well-established in their discipline. See Invite a Student to Work. There are some restrictions on eligibility for the Professor or Researcher category, these restrictions or "bars" are listed below:
    • 2-Year Repeat Participation Bar – Professors or Research Scholars are required to have a gap of two years between the end of any previous Professor/Research Scholar Exchange Program and the beginning of any new Professor/Research Scholar Exchange Program (note that this does not apply to Short-Term Scholar visits). Therefore, those beginning new programs that will include repeat visits should have their programs extended for the full duration of their program/collaboration, up to the 5 year maximum, even if portions of that time will be spent outside the US. For those not eligible for a new Professor/Research Scholar Exchange Program, consider whether the Short-Term Scholar program (see below) will meet your needs.
    • 12-Month Bar – An individual who has been in any category of Exchange Visitor (including Exchange Visitor dependents and students) for more than 6 of the 12 months immediately preceding the new program start date is ineligible for a Professor/Research Scholar category. For those not eligible for a new Professors or Research Scholars program, consider whether the Short-Term Scholar (see below) will meet your needs.
  • Short-term Scholars: Only used for those whose activity at Cornell is going to be less than 6 months, or for those who are otherwise not eligible for the Professor/Researcher category. Short-term scholars may receive payment for services and/or reimbursement for their expenses. They must be eligible for an academic appointment or be appointed as a Intern (advanced degree - Masters or PhD required) though for those coming for weekend visits or speeches, a formal Workday appointment may not be required. Extensions beyond 6 months are not permitted.

Financial Support Required

Financial support must be verified for the entire length of stay. Minimum amount of financial support (net income) for individuals and for family members are assessed bi-annually. Please see application forms for most current financial support minimums. Note that these do not include the cost of required health insurance and may not correspond with the cost of living independently. A person meeting only the minimum requirements may need to seek a shared housing situation.

Funding Requirements (required for initial applications and extensions)

Ithaca and Geneva:

  • $1,800 per month for individual
  • $1200 per month for spouse
  • $500 per month for one child, $400 for each additional child, IF spouse is coming and will provide child care.
  • $1100 per child if coming without J-2 spouse

New York City and Washington DC:

  • $2400 per month for individual
  • $1200 per month for spouse
  • $500 per month for one child, $400 for each additional child, IF spouse is coming and will provide child care.
  • $1200 per child if coming without J-2 spouse

Adding a Dependent (after arrival in US)

Souse/children may be brought to the US as J-2 dependents. To do so, they need to obtain a J-2 DS-2019 form in order to apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. J-2 visas are only for immediate family members (spouse and children). In order for the Office of Global Learning to issue a J-2 DS-2019 for your family member, the Exchange Visitor should work with their Human Resources representative to submit a  J-2 Dependent request to add a J-2 Dependent. the Exchange Visitor must provide evidence of full financial support for each accompanying family member for the remainder of the program, please attach financial evidence to your request.

English Language Requirement

Exchange Visitor regulations require proof of sufficient English language knowledge upon being selected to participate in an Exchange Visitor Program. More information on the requirement and on the method for certifying English proficiency can be found here

For those who wish to increase their English language ability, several opportunities for English language study exist in Ithaca. Contact the Office of Global Learningfor more information about the language requirement or local English programs.

Important Legal Requirements for Maintaining Exchange Visitor Status

  1. Health Insurance is Required
  2. Commencement of Program: New Exchange Visitors will need to check in at the Ofice of Global Learning with their immigration documents as soon as possible after arriving in the US, and not more than 30 days after the start date on the DS-2019 form. Please notify the Office of Global Learning, if the arrival date is delayed (put "Exchange Visitor Late Arrival" in the email Subject Line, and write your name, SEVIS ID and date of expected arrival in the US in the body of the email message.)
  3. Changes of Address or Contact Information: You and your dependent family members must report changes of address to the Office of Global Learning as soon as possible, no later than 10 days after the change. This timeframe is a legal requirement, and is not arbitrarily selected by the Office of Global Learning. The address reported should be an actual residential address, not a department address. If mail cannot be received at your residence, a mailing address (P.O. Box) may be used, but the Office of Global Learning is required to maintain a record of your physical residential address as well. You must also notify the Office of Global Learning as soon as possible, no later than 10 days, of any change to your phone number or e-mail address.
  4. Site of Activity Change: You and your dependent family members must report additions to, or changes in, work site (location at which work will be conducted) to the Office of Global Learning within 10-days of the change. If you will be working at another physical location, the Office of Global Learning must report the address of the activity site to SEVIS. Short trips of a few days do not need to be reported as changes in site of activity. 
  5. Changes in Legal Name: You and your dependent family members must report changes of legal name to the Office of Global Learning within 10-days of making the change. In addition, under SEVIS, the accuracy of names and biographic data on DS-2019 forms will be of critical importance. If your current DS-2019 form does not list your name or biographic information correctly, please notify the Office of Global Learning.
  6. End of program participation: If you will be leaving Cornell more than 30-days before the end date specified on Form DS-2019, please notify the Office of Global Learning (put "Exchange Visitor End Program" in the email Subject Line, and write your name, SEVIS ID and date of departure in the body of the message). You are also required to inform the Office of Global Learning if an accompanying spouse or child in J2 status departs from the United States prior to your departure date.

It is absolutely critical that you notify the Office of Global Learning of any of the above described changes. As the federally designated officers for Cornell University's J1 Exchange Visitor Program, we are required to ensure that the university is in compliance with regulations governing the program.

Other Aspects of Exchange Visitor Status

Payments for Off-Campus Employment, Consulting, Lecturing

Exchange Visitors (J1 visa holders) are limited by government regulations to employment in their sponsoring department at Cornell. Occasional off-campus lecturing or consulting may be allowed if it contributes to the visitor's original objectives in coming to the US. An authorization letter must be obtained from the Office of Global Learning before such work can be undertaken. Substantial off-campus employment is not allowed, nor is employment on campus in fields outside your area of specialization. To request approval for an "occasional lecturing or consulting opportunity, you will need to complete the Off Campus Payment/Reimbursement Form.

Duration of Status

An exchange visitor's authorized stay is limited to the dates entered on the Certificate of Eligibility (DS-2019). Entry to the US is permitted up to 30 days before and 30 days after the beginning date on the form. Exchange visitors have a 30 day grace period after the end date of their DS-2019 during which time they can remain within the U.S. but may no longer be paid for employment.

Extensions and Transfers

Exchange Visitors wishing to extend their J1 program, or transfer their program sponsorship to Cornell (transfer-in), should contact their hiring department and request that the department's Human Resources representative send a transfer-in form to the Office of Global Learning.

Exchange Visitors sponsored by Cornell who wish to transfer to another institution (transfer-out) contact the Office of Global Learning. Please include name, SEVIS ID, the new Program Sponsor's Program Number, and the Transfer Release Date

Employment of Dependents

Dependents of Exchange Visitors (spouses and children under 21) may request employment authorization from US Citizenship and Immigration Services after entering the US with a J-2 visa stamp and DS-2019. This authorization is NOT guaranteed.

Federal and State Income Taxes

If your visitor received any payment while in the US, taxes will likely be due. Certain people may benefit from a tax treaty (check this website for a list of countries which have tax treaties with the US). Encourage your visitors to determine their tax status by contacting the appropriate Payroll Office as soon as possible after their arrival. In general, foreign nationals earning any money in the US must file a tax return, even if their earnings are below the minimum established annually by the IRS or if they are beneficiaries of a tax treaty.

Two Year Home Residence Requirement