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J-1 Scholar Application Process

An academic department may invite you to conduct research or teach at UMD under a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa. If so, you will receive an invitation or offer letter by email with the details of your visit.

In order to become a J-1 Exchange Visitor, review the following steps. If you are at another institution, learn how to transfer your SEVIS record. 

The hosting department will request the following documents.  These documents will be used to determine your eligibility for the visit and the J-1 program, which includes Foreign Visitor Screening.

  • Resume
  • Proof of degrees - a J-1 Exchange Visitor must have at least a bachelor’s degree
  • Passport photo biographical page
  • Proof of English language skill

If accepted to the J-1 Exchange Visitor program to conduct research or teach, the department will email an invitation or offer letter to you with the details of your visit.

As a J-1 Scholar, you must have the English language skills to live in the United States and take part in your program. For example, your English skill level should show your ability to follow lab safety rules and handle any emergencies that may arise.

You can verify your English language skill level by taking one of the following tests:

English Language Tests:

  • TOEFL with a least score of 80
  • IELTS with a least score of 5.5
  • TOEIC Listening and Reading Test with a least score of 400 on listening and 400 on reading
  • NEW! Duolingo English Test with a least score of 75

You can assess your English speaking skills by scheduling an interview with the Maryland English Institute (MEI):

We do not accept foreign-based evaluation tools as proof of English skill. It is important that all J-1 Scholars meet the same standards of English proficiency. The evaluations listed above meet the assessment needs required for the J-1 program.

Exceptions to providing proof of English skill level.

If you meet the requirements below, you do not need to submit TOEFL, IELTS or PTE scores.

  • Citizens of English Speaking Countries
  • Scholars that received a degree from an accredited institution in the U.S., except for Puerto Rico.
  • Scholars currently studying and will complete their degree at an institution in the U.S. before they start at the University of Maryland
  • Scholars that received a degree from a recognized university in one of the countries on the list of English Speaking Countries.
  • Scholars currently studying and will complete their degree at an institution in one of the countries on the list of English Speaking Countries.

In order for you to receive a DS-2019, you must show you have enough financial support for your entire contract.

Researchers and faculty that receive pay from UMD, should receive a salary based on their level of experience. Host departments must follow the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the UMD Faculty Affairs policy. In determining salary, academic departments should use the current Faculty Affairs Salary Guidelines.

The department will request a J-1 DS-2019 for you in UMD's immigration database, called iTerp. At the department’s request, the system will email you a link, login and password information. You will complete the following forms in the iTerp system:

  • Biographical information
  • Current Immigration Status
  • U.S. Immigration History
  • Health Insurance Requirement
  • Dependent Spouse and Children
  • Proof of Funding
  • Notify My Department of Form Completion

J-1 Program Start Dates: Keep in mind it may take an average of 2 - 3 months to process the J-1 DS-2019, book a visa appointment, U.S. consulate’s administrative processing, receive the visa and make travel and housing arrangements for your stay in the U.S.

Once you complete the forms in iTerp, your department will forward the iTerp request to our office. It takes 2 weeks for our office to generate and send the DS-2019 to your department.  

 ISSS will send the DS-2019 via email. You will not receive a physical copy of the DS-2019 from UMD. You will need to print and sign with ink before presenting your DS-2019 at the visa interview. Once you receive your DS-2019, you may begin the visa process. 

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