J-1 Exchange Visitor Welcome Packet

Welcome to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Exchange Visitor program. The following information is designed to help you understand your status as a J-1 exchange visitor in order to successfully fulfill the academic responsibilities and immigration regulations.  Thoroughly read all the information provided before applying for your J-1 visa.

Preparing for Your J Visa

Now that you have been extended the offer of Student Intern and have received your DS-2019, you may pay your SEVIS fee and make arrangements with a U.S. embassy or consulate near you. Find instructions on paying your SEVIS fee, then use the I-160 application for a non-immigrant visa to the United States. The visa category you will use is the J-1 Student Intern category. Check the Department of State website for the consulate or embassy where you will interview to see what documents are required. Specifically you must bring your original DS-2019 signed by your Responsible Officer and you. Student interns must also bring your original DS-7002 signed by you, your hosting faculty member, and your Responsible Officer. During your visa interview, you will need to be able to communicate why you are coming to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. You may also be asked to demonstrate how your research will be funded and establish ties to your home country and show that you do not plan to immigrate to the United States.

Once you have received your visa, you may enter the United States within 30 days of your program start date listed on your DS-2019. If your arrival will be delayed until after your program start date, you must request a deferral of your program start date before your originally scheduled program start date. 


On-campus housing may be available depending on the time of year and duration of your program. Learn more about on-campus options by visiting https://ualr.edu/housing/ and email housing@ualr.edu to make on-campus housing arrangements.

Fees and Expenses

The only expenses due for exchange research programs at this time would be those associated with you housing, transportation, health insurance. Use a cost-of-living calculator to estimate your expenses.

There are no fees paid directly to UA Little Rock or your hosting faculty member. 

Health Care and Insurance Requirements

All J exchange visitors and dependents are required to maintain health insurance coverage meeting the Department of State regulations for minimum coverage. The coverage minimums are as follows:

Department of State Health Insurance Requirements for J Visitors

Item Minimum Requirement
Medical benefits $100,000
Repatriation of remains $25,000
Medical evacuation $50,000
Deductible per accident or illness $500

When you report to International Student Services, you must show your proof of health insurance meeting the requirements above or enroll in the LewerMark insurance provided through UA Little Rock. Find details of the plan and insurance rates at https://ualr.edu/international/insurance/.

Travel to the United States

Once you have received your visa, you may enter the United States within 30 days of your program start date listed on your DS-2019. Book your flight ticket with your name exactly as it appears on your passport and DS-2019. While you travel, carry your original DS-2019 in hand as you pass through security and Customs and Border Protection checkpoints.

Arrival Notification Requirements

J-1 visitors, dependent spouses, and dependent children over 12 years of age must report in person to the International Student Services within 10 days of arrival. An advisor will meet with you for a 30-minute appointment to orient you to campus and validate your J-1 status in SEVIS. This is mandatory for immigration purposes. While reporting, bring your passport, DS-2019, and proof of insurance if carrying alternate health insurance.

Immigration Requirements

While you are in your program you must conduct the objective of your research or internship. A significant change in your research objective must be approved by the Graduate Institute of Technology and Research (GIT) and your Responsible Officer prior to your change in research objective. Other institutional research requirements must be followed. Visit GIT for an orientation of these expectations.

Student interns may only work up to 32 hours per week. Only 20% of the work performed may be clerical in nature.

Neither course enrollment nor employment outside the UA Little Rock campus is not permitted while in your J-1 category.

Home-country Physical Presence Requirement

Also known as 212(e), this regulation requires some Exchange Visitors to return to their country of national origin or last legal permanent residence for two years before obtaining H1-B or U.S. permanent resident status.

Exchange visitors become subject to 212(e) if they receive direct/indirect government funding from their country or the U.S.; or possess skills by their country, as designated by the U.S. Department of State Skills List.

The consular official may mark the bottom left-hand corner of your DS-2019 or make a notation on your visa stamp that you are or are not subject to 212(e). Likewise, the port-of-entry immigration officer may mark the bottom left-hand corner of your DS-2019. Please raise any questions about the requirement with the consular official when you apply for a visa stamp or with the immigration officer when you enter the U.S. If you believe an error was made, please alert the Office of International Services as soon as you arrive.

If you are subject to 212(e), it is sometimes possible to get that requirement waived. If exchange visitors receive a waiver recommendation, they would be eligible for a change of status within the US, but are no longer eligible for an extension of their current DS-2019. Information regarding waivers can be found at Two Year Home Country Requirement.

Cultural Involvement

In keeping with the spirit of the J program, you must be engaging in cultural activities throughout your time in the United States. International Student Services offers a number of options for community involvement, but you may also choose to engage in other activities specific to your interests. We request that you fill out the Cultural Exchange Form every six months as a record of your community involvement.

International Travel and Departure From the United States

While you are participating in your J exchange program, you may travel within the United States as long as you are maintaining your program or research objective. You may also travel internationally as long as your visa is still valid, and your DS-2019 is signed for travel. Request a travel signature from a Responsible Officer at least one week prior to any international travel.

For an absence outside the United States for over 30 days, your DS-2019 must be amended for a period of travel. Schedule an appointment with a Responsible Officer at least one week prior to your departure.

Dependent Requirements

A spouse and children under 21 years of age may be eligible to accompany you to the United States. A J-2 spouse or child is referred to as a dependent. The J-1 visa holder is the principle.

Dependents will receive a DS-2019 and apply for a J-2 visa. The dependent’s immigration status is directly related to the status of the principle. Dependents may only be present in the United States while the principle is within the US. Any change in relationship or immigration status will affect the status of the dependent.

Dependents must maintain health insurance coverage within the minimum Department of State regulations. Dependents must also engage culturally within the United States and are invited to any cultural activity promoted by International Student Services. Other campus events may be open to children. Visit the Office of Campus Life to learn about Non-Traditional Student Programs.

Dependent spouses and children over 12  years of age are required to attend a brief orientation upon arrival and maintain a valid address and email address with their Responsible Officer. They must report to the Responsible Officer prior to any international travel, particularly a final departure.

Dependents may apply to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services for employment authorization. This application process usually takes 90 days, and costs $380 as of March 1, 2015. Visit http://www.uscis.gov/i-765 for forms and instructions. Applicants must clearly demonstrate that the income earned will not be for the support of the Exchange Visitor.

Drivers License

Arkansas driver’s licenses or ID Cards can be obtained from a local revenue office. Visit http://www.dmv.org/ for helpful information and locations. Visitors with an international drivers license or license from a foreign country have 30 days to receive an Arkansas Drivers License.

The Arkansas Drivers License exists in two parts, the driving permit and the written test. The driving permit requires a written test to assess the driver’s theoretical knowledge of U.S. traffic law. With the permit, the new driver can practice driving if accompanied by a licensed driver over 21. After 30 days of practice, the driver can apply for a full drivers license. This is a driving test wherein an officiant will accompany the driver on a road test. After passing the driving test, he or she will obtain an Arkansas Drivers License. This license can be used throughout the 50 states.

Social Security Number

The Exchange Visitor Program Welcome Brochure