New Scholar Information

The purpose of a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa is the promotion of both international education and mutual cultural exchange. At the completion of the visitor’s program they are expected to return to their home country to share their experiences.

J-1 professors primary purpose is to teach, lecture, observe, or consult. Research is permitted.

J-1 short-term scholars can take on the role of professor, research scholar, specialist, or a person with similar education and/or experience that is coming to the U.S. for a short duration of time with the primary purpose of lecturing, observing, training, consulting, or otherwise sharing their special skills and/or talents.

J-1 research scholars have a primary purpose of conducting research. They may also engage in teaching or lecturing.

In order to enter the United States as a J-1 visitor you will need a DS-2019 issued by Samford University as well as a valid J-1 visa stamp in your passport. Visitors from Canada do not need the visa stamp but must have a properly endorsed DS-2019 form. You may not enter the United States any earlier than thirty (30) days prior to the program start date as listed on your DS-2019. Likewise, you may not enter later than fifteen (15) days following the program start date. If you will be later than the listed arrival date please contact the Global Engagement Office to make the necessary arrangements. All arrival/departure records are now done online. You may access your I-94 information after your arrival. It is strongly encouraged you review this as soon as possible for accuracy. If there is a discrepancy please contact the Global Engagement Office as soon as possible. You should print a copy of your I-94 information for your records as well as for our office.

Insurance Requirements

Per Department of State regulations and Samford policy all J-1 exchange visitors are required to maintain sufficient medical insurance coverage for the duration of their program. You must have obtained this coverage by your mandatory check-in. Proof of coverage (if outside of the Samford sponsored plan). Your insurance plan must meet the following minimum standards:

  • Medical Benefits: $100,000
  • Repatriation of Remains: $25,000
  • Medical Evacuation: $50,000
  • Deductible per accident or illness: $500

Arrival and Immigration Check-In Information

All J-1 visa holders are required to check-in with the Global Engagement Office by scheduling an appointment before arriving in the US. This is a requirement of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Failure to check-in within one week of your arrival will result in your J-1 visa being terminated and your J-1 visa revoked. Please bring the following documents to the Global Engagement Office at check-in:

Maintaining Status

For a J-1 scholar or professor to maintain status they must:

  • Check-in with the Global Engagement Office within 5 days of arrival
  • Extend your DS-2019 by the program end date if necessary
  • Maintain a valid passport; Passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months into the future from when you return from an abroad trip
  • Participate in employment only as noted on your DS-2019
    Note: A department must contact the Global Engagement Office if they wish for an exchange visitor to give an occasional lecture at another institution or engage in collaborative work with another institution.
  • Maintain sufficient medical insurance for the duration of your program as listed on your DS-2019
  • Update your current address in Banner within 10 days of moving

Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement

There are certain circumstances where a J-1 exchange visitor may be subject to a Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement. Any dependents (J-2 visa holders) would also be subject if the J-1 visitor is. If subject, the visitor(s) may not change their non-immigrant status to that of an H, L, or Permanent Resident without returning to their home country for a total two-year period.

J-1 Scholar Employment

It is considered the responsibility of all non-immigrants in the U.S. to know and follow immigration regulations related to employment. The responsibility of accepting any type of employment that does not meet regulatory requirements, even if offered by a Samford University department, will fall solely on the J-1 visiting scholar. Please call 205-726-2741 to make an appointment to speak with GEO staff any time employment opportunities arise.


J-1 Professors and Research Scholars holding a DS-2019 issued by Samford University may teach or do research in their field for Samford University (as described in DS-2019 Box 4).

  • Any payment received from Samford University that is in an unrelated field would be considered unauthorized employment.
  • Any payment received from another entity (even if the work is performed on the Samford University campus) would be considered unauthorized employment.

Authorization for Lectures or Consultations

J-1 Professors and Research Scholars may give occasional lectures and short-term consultations in conjunction with their primary activities. To work for any organization in a position other than the one described on your Samford DS-2019 form, you must receive approval from GEO in advance.

To ensure that “occasional lectures or short-term consultations” do not interfere with and are in keeping with the activities of your J-1 program, they must be:

  • Related to the objectives of your Exchange Visitor program
  • Incidental to your primary program activities
Must not delay the completion of your Exchange Visitor program

Travel and Immigration Document Renewal

Travel Information

Should you choose to travel outside the U.S., please make sure you have the following before leaving Birmingham:

  • A current passport, valid for at least six months
  • Valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019
  • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp
  • A copy of your Fall 2023 schedule or enrollment verification

Carry them with you and do not put documents in your luggage.  If you need a travel signature or your travel signature will be more than 1 year old at the time you plan to return, please schedule an appointment to visit the Global Engagement Office and receive an update travel signature.

Visa and Passport Renewal Information


An international student who has either an expired passport or one that will expire within six months must apply for renewal prior to re-entering the U.S.  You should contact your home country’s Embassy or Consulate in the U.S. for information on how to renew or extend your passport from within the U.S. 


If you need to renew your F-1 or J-1 stamp while you are outside of the U.S., please review the following basic advice:

  • If you are still on the same SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 that you first used to enter the U.S. and have not been out-of-status for more than 5 months, you do not have to pay the SEVIS Fee again.
  • Submit the online visa application form DS-160.
  • Set your visa appointment.  Prior to scheduling your interview, check visa appointment waiting times online.

At the student visa interview, you will establish non-immigrant intent to the satisfaction of the consular officer by confirming that you have binding ties to your home country and you will depart the U.S. when you have completed your studies.