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Office of Research Services

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NIH Visiting Program Scientists

Visiting Program Scientists

Maintaining J-1 Status

J-1 Exchange Visitors are responsible for learning, understanding, and complying with applicable U.S. immigration regulations. J-1 responsibilities include, but may not be limited to, the following items:

  • Validation: Report to the Division of International Services (DIS) to validate your program.
  • Research Program: Engage only in the research activities permitted by your research program and J-1 category (per your Form DS-2019).
  • Outside ​Activity:Do not engage in paid or unpaid outside activities/employment without prior written authorization from DIS. Request authorization via the Outside Activity Request form. Complete the Request for Outside Activity Wizard if you are unsure whether your activity requires prior approval.
  • Extensions:If you are eligible for and your laboratory is interested in extending your J-1 program, your Institute/Center (IC) will submit a renewal request to DIS per the applicable checklist here. Renewal requests can be processed by DIS up to 180 days prior to the expiration of your current DS-2019. Extensions are provided only to allow for a continuation of your research objectives. Current proof of sufficient funding for the duration of your stay is necessary to extend your program.
    • Note: The maximum allowable time in J-1 status is typically five years for J-1 Research Scholars and six months for J-1 Short-term Scholars. If the NIH has provided Sponsor Views on a waiver request, extensions and transfers of the J-1 status are not permitted.
  • Transfers within NIH:: If you would like to switch laboratories within your IC or another IC, your new Administrative Officer (AO) will need to submit a transfer request to DIS. The J-1 Lab Transfer Request
    form, along with the usual IC transfer paperwork, should be sent to DIS at least 25 business days before the effective date of transfer.​

How to Contact DIS

  • Report Changes: Report changes to DIS before they occur, such as:
    • NIH Designation (ex. changing from Special Volunteer to Visiting Fellow)
    • Site of activity (the location where you conduct research)
    • NIH lab/office telephone number
    • NIH email
    • Funding source
    • Area of research
    • Lab Sponsor/Supervisor/PI
    • Telework
  • Residential Address: Notify DIS within 10 days of a change of U.S. residential address, local telephone number, and email address for you or your dependents using the DIS Change of Address form. You must report these changes to your AO as well. Please also report your dependent’(s) address change if your dependent will maintain a separate residence either temporarily or permanently.
  • Immigration Status: Notify DIS if you or your dependents obtain another immigration status, adjust status to lawful permanent resident, or obtain a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement [212(e)]. You must also notify DIS if your dependents depart the U.S. before the end of your J-1 program.​​
  • Serious Incidents:​ ​Notify DIS if you are arrested, hospitalized, or involved in any serious accidents. Additionally, the Department of State has a hotline to ensure the health and safety of its exchange participants; for emergency situations contact them at 866-283-9090.​
  • Within the U.S.: Make sure to carry your immigration documents and passport with you. For cruises, check with the cruise carrier/company for any immigration restrictions.
  • Outside the U.S.:
    • Required Travel Signature: Check that you have a valid travel signature from DIS on your Form DS-2019. If you are unsure whether you have a valid travel signature, see here.
    • Consult the DIS Website: Check whether you need an entry visa to enter the country to which you are traveling. Refer to the DIS website and travel handouts with recommended travel procedures. These travel procedures also apply to J-2 dependents.
    • Obtaining New J-1 Visa: Notify DIS if your J-1 visa is expired, and you need to apply for a new entry visa while abroad. Our website has information about the visa renewal process. Reminder: You can use the NIH J-1 Fee Exemption notice. You should also check with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will be applying to see what documents they require. The Arriving from Outside the U.S. page of our website is targeted to people arriving in the U.S. for the first time, but the renewal visa application process information is similar.
  • Request for Extended Absence from NIH: As a non-immigrant scientist at the NIH, you must complete the Request for Extended Absence from NIH ​​​form if:
    • You plan to pursue research activities abroad (other than short travel to attend conferences or meetings)
    • You plan to take extended personal leave abroad (e.g. vacation, medical leave) for more than five (5) weeks.
  • Keep Copies Secure: Keep copies of all Forms DS-2019 issued to you and any J-2 dependents. Store the original documents in a safe place. Do not send copies of Forms DS-2019 via fax or e-mail. Never discard any immigration document!
  • Maintain Valid Status: Maintain a valid passport, valid Form DS-2019, and Form I-94 marked “D/S” (Duration of Status) at all times. If you or your J-2 dependent receives an I-94 with an expiration date listed as something other than “D/S”, reach out to DIS immediately.
  • Notify DIS: Have your IC submit a Separation/Termination Notification form to DIS. Review our guidance on “Leaving NIH” ​​ on our website. Please also notify DIS of your J-2 dependents’ final departure from the U.S.
    • Note: If you leave earlier than the initial end date listed on your Form DS-2019, the DS-2019 will be shortened to match the actual program end date.
  • J-1 Transfer to Another Institution Transferring to another program sponsor is possible only if you are released first by DIS and will continue to work toward your J-1 research objectives at the new institution. To request a transfer, send DIS the completed J-1 Transfer Out form at least two weeks before the desired date of transfer. Your AO will also need to submit a Separation/Termination Notification form to DIS.
    • Note: J-1 Research Scholars must have at least one year of J-1 eligibility left of the initial 5 years for DIS to consider the transfer.
  • 30-Day Grace Period: Depart the U.S. no later than 30 days after the end date of your J-1 program (whether you end your program early or on the current end date listed on your Form DS-2019). You cannot work or re-enter the U.S. in J-1 status during this time. See here.
  • Unlawful Presence: Unlawful presence occurs when you overstay your authorized time in the U.S. There are serious consequences to staying unlawfully in the U.S., which include bars from re-entering the country. See here.
  • Health Insurance: Obtain and maintain health insurance throughout your program that meets these minimum requirements ​set by the Department of State (DOS). This insurance requirement also applies to J-2 dependents.
    • Paid Designations (Pre- and Post-doctoral Visiting & Supplemental Fellows): Your IC will pay the basic premium for health insurance coverage that meets the DOS requirements for you and any J-2 dependents through theFoundation for Advanced Education in the Science (FAES).
    • All unpaid designations: You may obtain health insurance from your home country or another U.S. private insurer, such as FAES, that meets the DOS minimum requirements. You must enroll with the insurance provider within 30 days of your arrival to NIH.
    • J-2 Dependents: If your family arrives to the U.S. separately, you must enroll your family with your insurance plan within 30 days of their arrival. If you are in a paid designation with insurance provided by NIH, inform your AO of your dependents’ arrival and request to have them added to your insurance plan. If you are in an unpaid designation, verify your dependents’ health insurance coverage with FAES.
  • 24-Month Bar on Repeat J Program Participation: If your J-1 program is in the Research Scholar or Professor category, you are not eligible to return to the U.S. as a J-1 in the Research Scholar or Professor category for a 24-month period once you end your program (whether completed on time or early). To determine your current Exchange Visitor Category, refer to box 4 on your DS-2019. This 24-month bar applies to J-2 dependents as well. See our 12- and 24-Month Bars page.
  • Two-Year Home Residence Requirement, or 212(e): Upon conclusion of the J-1 program, all NIH-sponsored Exchange Visitors are required to return to their home country – the last country of lawful permanent residency prior to the J-1 program as reflected on Form DS-2019 – for a period of two years to share the knowledge, skills, and abilities gained during their NIH stay. See our 212(e) Two-Year Home Residence Requirement page. Page 2 of your Form DS-2019 also has additional details. This requirement applies to J-2 dependents as well.
  • Tax Returns: J-1 Exchange Visitors and J-2 dependents who receive a fellowship or wages are required to file both state and federal tax returns. See more on taxes here for both paid and unpaid designations.

Note: If you have any questions or concerns about the above information or need to notify our office of any changes or incidents, please contact DIS.

Revised 2/2021

DIS Info

​​​Service Hours:
9:00AM - 4:00PM ET

Non-FTE Check-In/EOD:
Monday By 11:30am (​in local time zone of lab)
Submit Remotely
Advising Services:
Drop-Ins and Appointments​
Document Pickup:
By Appointment
J-1/J-2 Travel Signature Requests:​
Submit Remotely
Badge Validation:
Submit Remotely