Exchange Visitor Program

The CUNY Graduate Center defines the standard of contemporary graduate education: rigorous academic training and globally significant research. It is recognized for outstanding scholarship across the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, and is integral to the intellectual and cultural vitality of New York City. Through its extensive public programs, the Graduate Center hosts a wide range of events – lectures, conferences, book discussions, art exhibits, concerts, and dance and theatre – that enrich and inform. Finally, the accomplished and diverse student body exhibits an intellectual curiosity that enhances the learning experience for both faculty and students.

The school enrolls more than 4,500 students from across the United States and approximately eighty foreign countries in over thirty doctoral programs and various masters programs. The consortium of 2,000 faculty members consists of a core faculty of approximately 150 Graduate Center appointments supplemented by 1,850 additional faculty members drawn from throughout CUNY’s eleven senior colleges and New York City’s leading cultural and scientific institutions.

At the heart of our mission is knowledge creation. The Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC) extends the Graduate Center’s global reach and prominence as an international hub of advanced study. Specifically, ARC promotes interdisciplinary research; partners with the Graduate Center’s forty research centers, institutes, interdisciplinary committees, and other academic initiatives; connects the research activities of CUNY faculty at the colleges to Graduate Center research programs and seminars; provides a home for outstanding visiting scholars to collaborate with faculty and students; and offers support to Graduate Center doctoral students pursuing research as well as to postdoctoral students who have completed their initial projects.

The Graduate Center established an Exchange Visitors Program (EVP) to provide courses of study, lecturing, and research opportunities, in the various fields of instruction and research it conducts for qualified foreign students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars and specialists to promote the general interest of international educational and cultural exchange.

The Program was established under provisions of the Mutual Education and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 and is regulated by the United States Department of State.

Program regulations

J-1 Visa Status

An exchange visitor who has been invited by The Graduate Center must enter the United States on a J-1 visa. The Graduate Center will issue a DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status) necessary to obtain this status.

Health Insurance

Immigration regulations require J-1 exchange visitors and accompanying J-2 dependents to maintain comprehensive medical insurance with evacuation and repatriation coverage that meets U.S. government minimum requirements for the full duration of the J-1 program. There cannot be any breaks or lapses in insurance coverage even if one travels outside the U.S. for an extended period during the J program.

Financial Support 

The minimum amount of monthly financial support expected for a single person is estimated to be $2000 per month. For a married couple with children the amount required would be at least $2500 to $3000 a month. Monthly charges for insurance coverage if purchased in the U.S. could range from $50 for one person to $350 per month for a family.

Employment While Visiting 

Exchange Visitors are limited by government regulations in the type of employment they may accept. Authorization for any incidental employment must be obtained from the sponsor prior to any employment activity.

Family Members 

An accompanying spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of the Exchange Visitor enters the U.S. on a J-2 visa. They must meet the same health insurance requirements as the J-1 exchange visitor.

Dependent Employment 

Dependents of J-1 exchange visitors may apply for employment authorization to DHS, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They are eligible to work once an Employment Authorization Document is issued. To learn more, select: (navigate to employment authorization/work permit).

Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) 

All Exchange Visitor Program participants are registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a U.S. government database to collect, maintain and manage student and exchange visitor data.


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security require that all new Exchange Visitor Program participants, applying for a visa must pay a $220 SEVIS fee. Spouses and dependent children of exchange visitors are exempt from the SEVIS fee. This is mandatory fee and must be paid before you go to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for your visa interview. Information on SEVIS fee procedures are available here.

Learn more about SEVIS fee procedures for the Graduate Center

Conditions and Limitations for J-1 Immigration Status 

Five Year Time Limit: The U.S. Department of State (DOS) implemented new 5-year program participation rule for Professor and Research Scholar categories in the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP). Under the new rule, Professors and Research Scholars in a J-1 program may remain in the U.S for up to five years. During the 5-year period a scholar may participate in one or more programs and may extend and/ or transfer program sponsors. It is a continuous five year period calculated in calendar years given to participants on a “use or lose” basis. The five year period begins on the program begin date identified in the DS-2019 form and this status remains available until the end of five years or the date the J-1 program is concluded, whichever is earlier.

Two Year Bar: The rule also established a new 2-year bar on repeat participation in the J-1 Professor and Research Scholar categories. The bar forbids J-1 visitors in either the “professor” or “research scholar” category from returning to the U.S. for two years after the completion of a program. The two year bar applies under two circumstances:

  1. If the Professor or Research Scholar completes full five year program participation with one or more sponsors; or

  2. If before the full five year period is over, the Professor or Research Scholar completes his or her program. The continuity of five-year period is broken in this case and the five year window is closed. The individual is not eligible to access the remaining unused time as the individual must wait for two years before they can begin a new program as J Professor or Research Scholar.

Please note that this bar does not apply to scholars who come to the US as a Short-Term Scholar whose visit is less than six months. A visitor in the Short-Term Scholar category can not be extended beyond six months and the visitor is required to return to the home country at the end of the program.

It is recommended that any J-1 visitor in the Research Scholar or Professor category who may have future plans to return to the US for academic exchange within the next two years, after their program completion at the Graduate Center, must consult Ms. Regina Pakh on this matter.

Twelve Month Bar: This bar applies to individuals who have been physically present in the U.S. in any J status for all or part of the preceding twelve-month period immediately prior to the proposed start date of a new J program. This applies to all categories except short term scholars, and including J-2 status.

The Two Year Home Residency Requirement: Some Exchange Visitor Program participants may be required to return home for at least two years after completing their programs before they can change or adjust to certain nonimmigrant or immigrant statuses. This is called the two-year home residency requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Invitations to the Graduate Center

  • Programs, Centers, and Institutes must obtain approval from the Provost prior to inviting an Exchange Visitor (EV). The Program or Department that invites the scholar initiates the visit authorization for an exchange visitor by notifying the Provost.

  • Once approved, Human Resources will send the scholar pre-arrival information and health insurance information and makes sure an DS - 2019 worksheet is completed.

  • The scholar must possess the necessary financial support for the duration of his or her stay. Included are travel, living expenses and health insurance coverage for the scholar and any accompanying family members. Human Resources must have all original documents of financial support, the DS - 2019 worksheet and any other pertinent documents before officially issuing an invitation.

  • A DS - 2019 form (certificate of eligibility to apply for J-1 visa) is issued once all criteria/requirements are met.

  • Exchange Visitors have the option to purchase the required health insurance abroad or in the United States. Proof of health insurance coverage must be submitted to Human Resources upon arrival.

  • A general orientation is provided for all exchange visitors in Human Resources and the office must be notified if there is a delay in visiting or change in plans as SEVIS record(s) may need to be updated. Immigration regulations require the university to validate the arrival of J-1 exchange visitors in the United States within 30 days of the program start date indicated on their DS-2019. Failure to complete the immigration check-in process with the Alternate Responsible Officer will result in the cancelation of your SEVIS record and J-1 status in the United States. Programs and Institutes are encouraged to conduct informal orientation for exchange visitors.

Human Resources is happy to meet and discuss the regulations and procedures connected with the Exchange Visitor's Program. It is important to remember that it usually takes time to collect information from the scholar and additional time for the scholar to obtain travel and financial documents from both his/her government and home university. It is recommended that you apply for the Exchange Visitor Program three to four months prior to the start of the visit including extensions if necessary.

Additional information on Exchange Visitor Visas is available at: 

For more information please contact:

Regina Pakh

HR Manager/HR Business Partner for the Graduate Center & ASRC, Human Resources