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J-1 Exchange Visitors

The J Exchange Visitor category was developed to implement the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (Fulbright-Hayes Act) of 1961. The overall purpose of that Act, and the objective of the Exchange Visitor category, is “to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges.”

The J Exchange Visitor Program consists of six principal parties:

  • The Department of State (DOS), which issues J visas to exchange visitors and their dependents, designates exchange visitor program sponsors, and creates and administers federal regulations and policies governing the Exchange Visitor Program.
  • Exchange visitor program sponsors, which are legal entities that have applied for and received designation from the Department of State to conduct an exchange visitor program and have been enrolled in SEVIS. The exchange visitor program sponsor either directly offers the “program” in which the exchange visitor will participate or places the exchange visitor in an appropriate program.
  • Responsible Officers (ROs) and Alternate Responsible Officers (AROs), who are individuals who have been appointed by an exchange visitor program sponsor to perform the duties set forth in regulations and to represent the exchange visitor program sponsor. In this Manual, the term RO/ARO will refer to both the Responsible Officer and the Alternate Responsible Officers, and RO will refer specifically to the Responsible Officer.
  • Exchange visitors, who are aliens that have been selected by an exchange visitor program sponsor to participate in a particular exchange visitor program.
  • The immigration bureaus of the Department of Homeland Security, which manage SEVIS, admit an alien to the United States in J exchange visitor status, and adjudicate certain immigration benefits for J exchange visitors and their dependents.
  • The SEVIS database and SEVIS Help Desk.

Depending on the category of exchange visitor program, there may also be other essential parties involved (such as the exchange visitor’s government, contracting agencies, funding sponsors, third parties facilitation the exchange, etc.).

While the majority of international students at Ramapo are in F-1 visa classification, there are some who are eligible for J-1 student visa classification.

The J-1 Exchange Visitors participate in the Exchange Visitor Program within a particular Exchange Visitor category. The 20 exchange visitor categories in the SEVIS system are:

Most Common in Higher Education:

  • Student Non-Degree
  • Student Associate
  • Student Bachlors
  • Student Masters
  • Student Doctorate
  • Student Intern (62.23)
  • Research Scholar
  • Short-term Scholar
  • Professor
  • Specialist
  • Alien Physician

Other Exchange Visitor Categories:

  • Student Secondary
  • Trainee
  • Intern (62.22)
  • Teacher
  • Aupair
  • Camp Counselor
  • Government Visitor
  • Summer Work/Travel
  • International Visitor

*Ramapo College of NJ participates in the programs that are in BOLD.

Prospective J-1 Scholar

Ramapo College of NJ or other J-1 program sponsor must issue a scholar a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility, before he or she may apply for a J-1 entry visa at a U.S. consulate or apply for a change of status within the United States. Once a DS-2019 has been issued, the scholar must pay the SEVIS fee for the creation of an electronic immigration record in SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) and then make an appointment for a visa interview at a U.S. consulate abroad or apply for a change of status in the United States.

Requesting Form DS-2019

Department faculty who would like to invite an international scholar to Ramapo must submit the following documents to the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) to request a DS-2019 for the scholar:

  • Offer Letter
  • J-1 Request Form
  • Health Insurance Attestation Form
  • Scholar’s curriculum vitae or resume
  • Photocopy of the biographical page(s) of the scholar and dependents’ passports
  • Original documentation of the funds to support the visitor, expressed in U.S. dollars, if the sponsor is an organization other than Ramapo. If personal funds are shown, a bank statement including the current account balance must be provided with a currency conversion to U.S. dollars.

Please verify that all forms are complete and have been signed by required department personnel before submitting them to ISSS. The ISSS then issues the DS-2019 and mails it to the scholar.

Applying for the J-1 visa:

Your next step is to contact the nearest United States Consulate and apply for the J-1 visa (exchange visitor status).  Visit http://www.usembassy.gov/   to locate the U.S. embassy or Consulate near you and to review the visa appointment and application instructions.  You will be required to submit the following documents to the U.S. Consulate:

  1. A valid passport
  2. A properly executed DS-2019 form (enclosed)
  3. Letter of Invitation from Ramapo College of NJ
  4. Proof of Payment receipt of the required $180 SEVIS fee
  5. Any additional information required by the U.S. Consulate

If the Consular Officer approves the visa application, a “J-1” visa will be stamped in your passport indicating the period of validity of the visa.  The Consular Officer will also note on the form whether you are subject to the two-year home country residence requirement.  The DS-2019 form will be returned to you.

IMPORTANT: 

If your J-1 visa is denied by the Consular Official, inquire about the reason for the denial from the Official and then inform us immediately.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU TO ENTER the United States UNDER THE THREE-MONTH VISA WAIVER (WT) PROGRAM OR ON A TOURIST (B2) VISA.   

Entering the United States:

Upon arrival in the United States, you will be required to present your passport, visa, and the DS-2019 form to the Immigration Inspector at the Port of Entry.  The Immigration inspector will stamp the Form DS-2019 and give it back to you.  You will also be issued an I-94 (white card), which indicates your J-1 status and the date your stay in the U.S. expires.  If D/S is stamped on your I-94 card, you are authorized to remain in the United States for the Duration of Status, which is indicated under item 3 on your DS-2019 form.  The DS-2019 form and I-94 card are very important documents.  Keep them with your passport in a safe place at all times.

Arrival and Departure Dates:

You will find your assigned arrival and completion dates for your program listed under item 3 on your DS-2019 form.  You cannot arrive more than 30 days before the “From” date and are allowed  an additional 30-day grace period after the completion date if you wish to do any additional visiting or sightseeing in the United States.  You must depart the United States no later than 30 days after the completion date listed on your DS-2019 form.

Required Medical Insurance

J-1 Exchange Visitors and their dependents are required by law to have a specific amount and type of medical insurance.  The insurance must be maintained for the duration of your program in the United States.  You may use an insurance program of your own choice as long as it adheres to the requirements.  It is imperative that you take responsibility for maintaining the required medical insurance.  Failure to do so will jeopardize your legal status in the United States.  Consult with our office is you have any questions or concerns in regard to this issue.

NOTE:  Medical insurance policies generally do not cover pre-existing medical conditions.  If you have a pre-existing health condition that may require treatment in the U.S., you may be required to pay cash for such treatment.

Minimum Medical Insurance Required:

  1. Medical Benefits of at least US$50,000. per person per accident or illness;
  2. Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500; and
  3. Expenses associated with medical evacuation in the amount of $10,000.
Immigration Check-In Upon Arrival:

In issuing the enclosed DS-2019 form, Ramapo College assumes certain responsibilities in relation to your stay in the United States, and you are obligated to comply with the terms and conditions stated on the DS-2019 form.  When you arrive on campus, you are required to bring your and your dependent’s passport, I-94 card, and your Form DS-2019 to International Student and Scholar Services located in the Roukema Center for International Education.  At that time, we will conduct a review of your legal documents and make copies for our records. You are also required

Health Insurance

Exchange Visitors in the United States are required by law to have a specific amount and type of medical insurance.  The insurance must be maintained for the duration of your program in the United States.  You may use an insurance program of your own choice as long as it adheres to the requirements.    It is imperative that you take responsibility for maintaining the required medical insurance.  Failure to do so will jeopardize your legal status in the United States.

NOTE:  Medical insurance policies generally do not cover pre-existing medical conditions.  If you have a pre-existing health condition that may require treatment in the U.S., you may be required to pay cash for such treatment.

Minimum Medical Insurance Required:
  1. Medical Benefits of at least US$50,000. per person per accident or illness;
  2. Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500; and
  3. Expenses associated with medical evacuation in the amount of $10,000.
  4. A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

We do not recommend or endorse any of the insurance policies but have provided this list to assist you in finding an appropriate insurance provider. Contact the insurance companies directly for more information on specific plans and their fees.

This is not a comprehensive list. You may purchase other insurance plans as long as they meet the above insurance requirements.

Compass Benefits Group
www.compassstudenthealthinsurance.com

The Gateway Insurance Plans
www.gatewayplans.com/index.cfm

HTH Worldwide Insurance Services
www.hthworldwide.com/ 

International Student Health Insurance Plans
www.isoa.org

Helpful Hints

Helpful Hints from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for your arrival in the U.S.:

  • Do not plan to arrive in the United States any more than thirty days before the program start date on your I-20.  If you arrive too early, you will most likely be denied entry to the U.S.
  • Always carry your passport, SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019, student visa, and I-94 card on your person. Do not put these documents in your luggage.
  • In addition  to the above documents, USICE recommends that you bring with you:
    • Evidence of financial resources;
    • Name and contact information for your International Student Advisor at your school

For more detailed information about your arrival in the U.S., please review this fact sheet on the ICE website:
http://www.ice.gov/sevis/factsheet/100104ent_stdnt_fs.htm

Directions To Ramapo

Transportation options from the airport to the college are:
Air Brook Limousine Service or Bus
Driving Directions

Your destination:
Ramapo College of New Jersey
505 Ramapo Valley Road (also called Route #202)
Mahwah, New Jersey

Please read the following carefully.
1. Kennedy International Airport
Most overseas flights to this region use Kennedy International Airport. However, if you are able to arrange to arrive at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, your trip will be considerably shorter and less complicated.
Public Transportation

Air Brook Limousine Service:
Be prepared to pay in US currency or Traveler’s Checks. (212) 244-7250.
http://www.airbrook.com/

By Bus: the most inexpensive way to get to Ramapo College from Kennedy International Airport is by bus. At Kennedy Airport, inquire at the Gray Line Bus Line counter which will take you to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. The telephone number is 1-800-451-0455. This service is located near baggage claims. Upon arriving at the Port Authority Terminal, do not be discouraged by its large size. Ask a police officer to direct you to the Short Line Bus Line counter. Buy a bus ticket to the bus terminal in Mahwah, New Jersey. At the bus terminal in Mahwah, phone Ramsey Taxi Company at (201)-327-0147. After 10:00PM, it is necessary to phone the Ridgewood Taxi Company at 1-800-445-8294.
Public Transportation

2. LaGuardia Airport
Follow the instructions for Kennedy Airport in Making reservations. Phone Air Brook Limousine Service at 1-(212)-244-7250. Follow the directions to Mahwah described above to take the bus to Mahwah, New Jersey. Be prepared to pay in US currency or Traveler’s Checks.
Public Transportation

3. Newark Airport
Phone (201)-379-6900. Your destination is Ramapo College, 505 Ramapo Valley Road (also called Route #202), Mahwah, New Jersey, off of Route #17. Be prepared to pay the driver in US currency or Traveler’s Checks.
Public TransportationAir Brook Express offers convenient, low cost shuttle between Ridgewood, N.J. and Newark Airport with up to 54 trips daily. More Info
This shuttle will bring you to a location on Route 17, close to campus. From there you can call a cab, or arrange for a friend or International Education Staff member or orientation leader to pick you up.

Money Issues and Bank Accounts

During the Scholar Orientation scholars will be taken to a local bank to open accounts and convert currency. The most convenient bank is TD Bank in the Interstate Shopping Center on Route 17, Ramsey.

Clothing

You will need a variety of clothing while living in New Jersey, because temperatures vary from 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) during the summer months to 10 degrees F (-12 degrees C) during the winter months.

In June, July, and August, very light clothing is needed (shorts, skirts, t-shirts, sandals). However, you should bring at least one sweater and/or light coat.

From September until late November, we experience moderate temperatures. Students usually wear pants, sweaters and a light coat. A raincoat and umbrella is also needed.

From November to early April, heavier clothing such as a heavy coat, gloves and boots (total cost around $150) are needed. Students wear very casual clothing on campus. Pants, blue jeans, shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts, and parkas are worn by men and women; women also wear dresses and skirts.

Although men rarely wear suits, if you have one, it would be useful to bring for special occasions.

Transportation on Campus

    1. The Ramapo Shuttle –  will take you to local shopping centers and train stations in the area. This service is free. To see the shuttle schedule, please go to: https://www.ramapo.edu/about/shuttlebus/
    2. The Short line Bus – Goes to and from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City every day.
      Please see: https://www.ramapo.edu/about/shuttlebus/#bus
    3. Taxi – If no other options are available, you can always call a taxi!!
      Ramsey Taxi: (201) 327- 9000

Department of State Exchange Visitor Program

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation, in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of United States Department of State. Our J-1 Program is overseen by the Academic and Government Division.

Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation
ECA/EC/AG – SA-44, Room 732
301 4th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20547
202.203.5029
Jvisas@state.gov

PLEASE REFER TO THE VISITING SCHOAR HANDBOOK FOR MORE INFORMAITON.