Visas, Immigration, & Work

Visa Information

The on-line application, transcript, and Financial Certification form you submit will be used to create the DS-2019 document, which gives you permission to be here as an exchange student with a J-1 visa.  The University has authorization from the government to produce these, which takes 4-12 weeks after receipt of all of your documents.  Emory is very careful in handling each one, because it risks losing the right to issue DSs should improper care be exercised.  Emory also registers you onto the SEVIS system as part of the process in generating the DS-2019.

The DS-2019 and additional information will be sent to your study abroad coordinator in late June or late November.  Once you receive it, you’ll make an appointment with the U.S. consulate or embassy nearest you (different consulate locations have different policies).  For a listing of U.S. Embassies and Consulates, visit  Take your passport, DS-2019, the original (or copy) of your Financial Certification Form with documentation, and any other documents required, the SEVIS fee and visa application fee, and obtain your J-1 visa. 

Academic Training

International exchange students on a J-1 visa are able to seek short-term academic training opportunities such as internships, employment or research related to their field of study upon completion of their study abroad semester. Students are allowed to participate in academic training for a period not to exceed the amount of time they were enrolled as a student at Emory.

Visa Application and Fees

United States permanent residents and citizens do not need to apply for visas.  All other exchange students must apply for a visa.  As a general rule, students are issued J-1 visas in recognition of their participation in the exchange visitor program.

International students are required to pay the SEVIS Fee if their Form DS-2019 was issued on or after September 1, 2008 and are one of the following:

  • Applying for a J-1 visa for initial participation in a program.
  • In the U.S. and applying for a change of status to J-1.
  • Currently sponsored by the U.S. Government and will transfer to a NON-U.S. Government sponsored program.
  • Currently a J-1 Exchange Visitor applying for a change of J-1 category.
  • Currently a J-1 Exchange Visitor applying for reinstatement for a substantive violation.
A J-1 student who is subject to payment of the SEVIS Fee must remit the fee directly to the Department of Homeland Security by completing Form I-901 electronically using the Internet or by mail as noted below:
  • On-line submission of Form I-901 ( to DHS using a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express accepted).
  • Mail-in submission of Form I-901 ( to DHS address on form, along with the SEVIS fee paid by check, money order, or foreign draft drawn on a financial institution in the U.S. and payable in U.S. currency.
  • Another person (friend or family) can make the payment for an exchange visitor by one of the two methods above.

The SEVIS fee should be processed by DHS at least 3 business days prior to the consular interview. Fees will not be payable at the consulate.

The following steps are a guideline for obtaining a J-1 visa from abroad:

  1. Receive DS-2019 from the Exchange Visitor Program.
  2. Make visa appointment with U.S. Embassy/Consulate.
  3. Submit SEVIS fee payment in time to allow DHS to process payment at least 3 days prior to visa interview.
  4. Print SEVIS fee payment receipt from Internet or wait to receive form I-797 receipt from DHS via mail and submit receipt with visa application.
  5. Receive J-1 visa stamp in passport from U.S. Embassy/Consulate.
  6. Enter U.S. up to 30 days PRIOR to the start date indicated on the DS-2019 and no later than 30 days AFTER the start date indicated on the DS-2019.
  7. Report to exchange student orientation at the business school to validate program status immediately after arrival to the U.S.

Maintaining J-1 Status

  1. Maintain a full course of study as defined by your academic division except during vacation or documented medical problems presented to the Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO).
  2. Satisfactorily pass the minimum required course work during each academic term.
  3. Engage only in employment authorized in writing by the RO or ARO.
  4. Comply with all local, state, or federal laws.
  5. Keep the Emory Registrar's Office informed of your current telephone number and address via the OPUS system.
  6. Maintain adequate medical insurance for self and all accompanying dependents.
  7. Please make photocopies of travel documents and keep the copies in a safe place, separate from the originals. Photocopy the following documents:
    1. Passport pages that have the picture and personal information, as well as official information (including its date of expiration)
    2. Passport page with the visa on it
    3. Both sides of Form I-94
    4. DS-2019 form

Travel as a J-1 Visa Holder

When traveling domestically in the U.S. carry a passport, I-94 card, and valid form DS-2019. No endorsement is needed, however, on the DS-2019 form.

For travel outside the United States during the period of exchange study, obtain a signature on the back of the DS-2019 form from an international student adviser in the International Student and Scholar Programs Office. This signature is valid for one semester, so it is not necessary to get a new signature for additional travel within that one semester period.

When on exchange and traveling inside or outside the United States, be sure to have the following materials: passport, valid J-1 visa, valid DS-2019 with current signature, I-94 card, and visitor visa, if applicable.

Employment as a J-1 Visa Holder

Employment may be authorized for the purpose of scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship requirement; on-campus jobs; internships, practical experience in one's major field of study; or in rare circumstances for economic hardship.

A J-1 student must be authorized for employment by a Responsible Officer at ISSP (International Student and Scholar Programs), prior to beginning any job whether on or off campus.

The student must meet certain eligibility requirements and may need to discuss his/her personal situation with the J coordinator at ISSP before accepting a position.

The Goizueta Business School exchange coordinator is the academic advisor for exchange students who may sign forms in the space provided for academic advisor.

A J-1 student who wishes to be employed must be authorized specifically for each position.

  1. The student first obtains a job offer.
  2. Once a job offer is made, a student must request that the International Student and Scholar Programs Office issue a letter of authorization.
  3. J-1 students should contact the Program Sponsor indicated on #2 of the Form DS-2019 for further discussion and information.
  4. No application to Immigration is required, and no stamp on the document DS-2019 is required.
  5. The letter and the entry into the SEVIS database are the authorizations to work.
  6. The ISSP Office needs for 5 business days to produce the letter of authorization for employment and enter the information into the SEVIS database.
The following criteria must be met to be eligible for employment authorization:
  • Student is in good academic standing;
  • Student continues to engage in a full course of study, except for official school breaks and annual vacations;
  • Student's employment totals no more than 20 hours per week, except during official school breaks and the student's annual vacation, when it may be full time; and
  • The Responsible Officer has approved the specific employment in advance and in writing.

Many students in the Exchange Visitor Program are required to fulfill an internship requirement. Off-campus employment may be authorized for this purpose. Provided that a job offer has been made and the job is specifically related to the major program of study, a student may receive authorization to participate in Academic Training.

Students who wish to be employed for a time after their studies end will need to be prepared ahead of time by beginning their job search early.

All Academic Training is counted as full-time. The time spent working part-time during the academic term on Academic Training counts the same as if it had been full-time.

Provided that eligibility requirements are met, a J student may be authorized typically for the same amount of time previously spent in the program of study up to 18 months. That is, if a program of study was two semesters (August to May), a student may be authorized for up to 9 months of Academic Training.

A Non-Degree J student is limited to a 24-month stay, including study time and any time spent in Academic Training.