Nonimmigrant Status

J-1 Research Scholar

The US Department of State (DOS) administers the overall Exchange Visitor Program. The program provides foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in exchange programs in the United States so they may return home to share their experiences. The Wistar Institute has been designated as an Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor. As an exchange visitor in Wistar's Program, we offer you the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the world's foremost scientists. In addition, we support activities that will expose you to American society and culture, and encourage you to share the language, culture and history of your home country.

As an exchange visitor, you are required to engage in the category and subject or field of activity listed on your Form DS-2019. Compensation for such activities may be accepted only when permitted by the regulations. Exchange visitors must also comply with the specific program provisions of the regulations that govern their particular category.

Maintaining J-1 Status

Exchange visitors are required to have a valid passport and I-94 card, and an unexpired Form DS-2019.

Research scholars who hold J-1 status are also required to have medical insurance coverage for themselves and their dependents throughout their stay in the U.S. The Department of State (DOS) has mandated that any insurance plan purchased by a J-1 visa holder meet the following criteria:

  • medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness
  • repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500
  • medical evacuation to the home country in the amount of $10,000
  • a deductible (the amount for which you are responsible before insurance coverage becomes effective) not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
  • co-payment of medical expenses (the portion not covered by insurance) of no more than 25% is paid by the insured

Most J-1 exchange visitors will enroll themselves and their families in one of the health insurance plans offered by Wistar. You will be required to contribute a small percentage of the overall cost based on income earned. Your contribution or cost is called a "premium," and will be made through deductions from your paycheck.

Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement (212 (e))

A two-year foreign residence requirement is imposed on some categories of exchange visitors once their U.S. stay is completed. Any J-1 exchange visitor subject to the foreign residence requirement is ineligible for U.S. permanent residence or nonimmigrant visas in the H category until he/she spends two years (after completion of stay) in his/her home country or country of last residence. The foreign residence requirement applies to three (3) categories of exchange visitors:

  • Exchange visitors who possess skills that have been determined to be in short supply in their own countries
  • Exchange visitors whose training program is financed in whole or in part by either an agency of the U.S. government or by the government of the alien’s home country
  • Exchange visitors who come to the U.S. to receive graduate medical education or training

212 (e) Waivers 

For information on applying for a waiver visit: www.state.gov

Employment for Dependents 

An individual in J-2 status may apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) for permission to accept employment in the U.S. Permission will be granted only if the employment is designed to provide extra income for activities such as sightseeing and travel and should not be used to support the J-1 exchange visitor.

H-B1 Temporary Professional

An H-1B1 temporary worker is defined as a person who will perform services in a “specialty occupation.” The H-1B1 classification is available for those occupations that require “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum entry into the occupation in the United States.” The H-1B1 classification is appropriate for faculty members and research scholars at the professional level.

The employer must meet requirements set both by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) in order to file for H-1B1 status for a prospective employee. It usually takes four to six months to obtain approval of an H-1B1 petition, although the US CIS now offers premium processing for an additional fee of $1,000. This guarantees US CIS action within 15 days of receipt of the H-1B1 petition. Individuals who do not already have alternate employment authorization cannot be employed until final notice is received from the US CIS approving Wistar’s H-1B1 petition. An approved H-1B1 notice for employment at The Wistar Institute allows you to be employed only by Wistar in the job described in the H-1B1 petition.

Maintaining H-1B1 Status

H-1B1 temporary workers are required to have a valid passport and I-94 card, and an unexpired Form I-797 indicating petition approval.

Portability of H-1B1 status

The H-1B1 status is time, job, and employer-specific. If you have valid H-1B1 status with another employer, you must still get the necessary authorization to begin employment at Wistar. In this case, however, once the Immigration Representative submits the H-1B1 petition and it is received by the US CIS, you can begin working at Wistar under portability provisions in the H-1B1 regulations.

Employment for Dependents 

H-4 status does not provide for employment authorization for dependents, although H-4 dependents may attend school while in this status. H-4 students who must work as part of their curriculum or program must change their status to an F-1 (student) visa.