J-1 Visa


The J-1 Visa is specifically aimed towards visitors engaged in short-term work and study exchange-based programs in the United States. According to the United States Department of State Exchange Visitor website: “Through the Exchange Visitor Program, foreign nationals may visit the United States temporarily to teach, lecture, study, observe, conduct research, consult, train or demonstrate special skills.” For Kierkegaard Scholars, the most important J-1 Exchange Program is the short-term scholar program, in which “Professors, research scholars and other individuals with similar education or accomplishments travel to the United States on a short-term visit for to lecture, observe, consult, train or demonstrate special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited academic institutions or similar types of institutions.” Lasting no more than six months, a J-1 short-term scholar program allows academic and research scholars with the appropriate education to participate in nearly all United States educational opportunities. These involve laboratory research, lecture and consultation, and institutional resources.

In order to apply for a J-1 Visa, applicants must find and contact a designated sponsor; in this case, St. Olaf College. Sponsors are responsible for screening applicants for eligibility issues, providing participants with pre-arrival and orientation information, and overseeing the well-being of participants during their time in the United States. Applicants are responsible for guaranteeing English language proficiency, minimum benefit level medical insurance carriage for themselves and any J-2 dependents, and all required program, SEVIS, and visa fees.

Visitor Categories Include

  • Professor: an individual primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting, may also conduct research, unless disallowed by the sponsor. Maximum stay is 5 years.
  • Research Scholar: an individual primarily conducting research, observing or consulting in connection with a research project. The scholar may also teach a lecture unless disallowed by sponsor. Maximum stay is 5 years.
  • Short-term Scholar: a professor, research scholar, specialist or person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the U.S. on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills. They may also engage in collaborative research. Maximum stay is 6 months.

Required Documents

  • Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility) issued by your program sponsor
  • Other supporting documents – check the specific embassy or consulate website
  • Passport valid for travel to the United States
  • Completed Online Form DS-160, nonimmigrant visa application
  • Fee receipt showing payment of the $140 visa application fee
  • 2×2 photograph, meeting format requirements

What We Need From You

In order to complete the DS-2019 necessary for obtaining a J-1 Visa, St. Olaf College must receive the following supplemental documents:

  • Curriculum vitae or resume
  • Copy of passport biographical page (also required for dependents)
  • Proof of adequate funding (if it comes from a source other than the department)
  • Required, completed J-1 Visitor Form (contact Eileen Shimota for a blank form)
  • Proof of language proficiency completed by Professor Gordon Marino

For more information, please access the United States Government J-1 Visa Website.

Every effort has been made to update the information above, but keep in mind that State Department policies are subject to change without notice.