At this time, OIS will begin accepting requests for initial DS-2019s for new incoming scholars and student interns. Please review the following information prior to beginning the DS-2019 request process:
- If your scholar cannot yet schedule a visa interview, you should not request the DS-2019 document at this time. Routine visa processing has still not resumed normal operations; only a limited number of U.S. consulates and embassies are offering visa appointments on a limited basis. There is no organized list of which areas have resumed visa processing, but potential scholars can check with their local consulate/embassy or you may visit the Department of State website to see visa appointment wait times for specific locations.
- If your scholar is currently residing in a country with a travel ban, you should not request the DS-2019 document at this time unless your scholar is traveling from a country with an exception. There are still many travel bans in place worldwide with no defined end date. Some travel restricted countries now allow an exception for academics (Schengen Area, Ireland, UK), but scholars from these areas must first obtain a national interest exemption waiver before traveling, which can be requested during their visa interview. Please read our travel restrictions webpage for more information.
- If you cannot guarantee the legally required number of work hours for your scholar due to changes caused by the COVID-19 virus, you should not request a DS-2019 at this time. Immigration regulations require that scholars must work at least 30 hours per week (32 hours for student interns).
- If your scholar cannot conduct their research/program on campus in-person, you should not request a DS-2019 at this time. We recognize that although most research labs on campus have reopened, some departments or faculty members are still operating remotely. The latest guidance issued by the U.S. Department of State on June 25, 2020 states sponsors must meet formal in-person requirements before hosting new participants, and thus scholars cannot travel to the U.S. to begin a J-1 program that will be completely remote. Current scholars already in the U.S. may continue to work remotely due to COVID-19 considerations if necessary, as long as there remains a supervision structure in place. If you have specific questions about current scholars and remote work please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If none of the restrictions listed above apply, you may move forward with requesting an initial DS-2019 at this time. Please bear in the mind the following considerations when choosing a start date for your scholar:
- Backlog in visa processing means your scholar may have to wait weeks or even months after their visa interview to actually receive the visa and be able to travel.
- International flights are still extremely limited, and it may take your scholar several weeks to find a flight after they have received their visa.
- Refer to the CDC guidance for guidelines for enhanced precautions after any travel, and build in time before a requested start date for any self-quarantining, etc.
- Typically our office requires a 45 day minimum lead time between the date the department submits the DS-2019 request and the start date for the scholar, but we suggest a longer lead time due to the current circumstances, preferably 60 days minimum.
- You should not request a program start date immediately before or during official university holidays.
- Remember, your scholar is allowed to enter the U.S. in the 30-day window prior to their DS-2019 start date.
At this time, scholars who already possess a valid DS-2019 and J-1 visa may make travel arrangements to come to the U.S., provided they are not coming from a country with a travel ban and meet the following criteria:
- Your scholar can engage in research or program objectives at least 30 hours per week.
- Your scholar’s research or program objectives can be conducted in-person at least partially. Scholars cannot travel to the U.S. to begin a J-1 program that will be completely remote. This is based on the latest guidance from the U.S. Department of State (DOS) from June 25, 2020 that says sponsors must meet formal in-person requirements before hosting new participants.
- If your scholar is coming from a travel restricted country with an exception (Schengen Area, Ireland, UK), they have first obtained a national interest exemption waiver from their local consulate or embassy. You can read our travel restrictions webpage for more information.
Yes, we will gladly accept digital signatures in lieu of an ink signature on our forms. Alternatively, if you are unable to provide a digital signature, you can send us an email with the required information from the department section of the form and confirm you’ve reviewed the other sections of the form (completed by the student/scholar/employer) and approve the request.
We will email the department when the document is ready, however instead of sending it directly to the department, we will ask for a FedEx label, and we will deliver it to a FedEx box for mailing to the scholar.