Application Process-Office of International Education - Carnegie Mellon University

Application Process

J-1 scholars will have their initial contact with a teaching or research faculty in a CMU department. First, the visitor will clarify details of the visit including length of stay, funding arrangements, etc., with the department. The department will then gather certain required information from the scholar and give relevant information to the Office of International Education (OIE). In turn, OIE will forward the DS-2019 document to the scholar so that the scholar may obtain J-1 status.

The DS-2019 form acknowledges that the University has invited you, the scholar, to visit the institution, has authorized your visit, and supports your application for J-1 status. The DS-2019 is not a visa, and a scholar cannot enter the US with the DS-2019 alone; to enter the US, the DS-2019 works in partnership with the J-1 visa stamp in the passport.


If you are not currently in J-1 status, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee in order to obtain a J-1 visa and enter the US or to change to J-1 status. OIE will send detailed instructions on paying the fee with your visa document. Click here for these instructions.

Obtaining J-1 status from outside the US

After receiving the required DS-2019 document from the University and paying the SEVIS fee, make an appointment for a visa interview at a United States Embassy or Consulate. At the visa interview, present the DS-2019 and SEVIS fee payment receipt along with other required information. For specific information on applying for the US visa at the Consulate nearest to you, visit the US Department of State website.

Dependents (spouse and/or children only) who will accompany the scholar to the US will need to apply for J-2 visas. Children who are J-2 dependents must be legal dependents, under the age of 21, and unmarried. When applying for the J-2 visa(s), take the family's passports with to the US Consulate along with proof of marriage (for the spouse) and birth certificates for each child. J-2 dependents must keep OIE updated regarding their email address and OIE must be notified if the J-2 dependent(s) will depart the US prior to the completion of the J-1 program.

The visa application process can take several days or several weeks, so plan accordingly. If visa processing takes longer than you anticipated, contact OIE for advice. We strongly recommend that you do not enter the US in another status, such as B-1/B-2 tourist. You may have difficulty changing your status in the US, and more importantly, the immigration official at the port of entry may not permit you to enter the US without your J-1 visa.

Third-Country Applicants

Individuals who are outside of the US and plan to apply for a visa in a country other than their country of citizenship are considered "third country applicants." Only some US Embassies and Consulates will accept applications from third country applicants. Check the website for the Embassy/Consulate that you plan to visit to learn about their policies. Also, please read through the OIE Handout

Entering the US

To enter the US, you must carry your immigration documents along with your passport and the visa stamp inside of the passport. (Remember to carry the documents on the airplane with you. Do not pack them in your luggage.)

Note: Scholars must enter the US with the DS-2019 from Carnegie Mellon University in order to work at the University. J-1 scholars must enter the US within 30 days before or after the start date on the DS-2019. Even when the timing is tight, scholars may not enter the US on a B visitor visa, unless it has been arranged with CMU in advance for a visit of fewer than 9 days. Entry by any other means may result in loss of employment eligibility as well as other difficulties with immigration authorities. Scholars who change plans before the arrival date or decide not to come to Carnegie Mellon University should immediately notify the Office of International Education and return the DS-2019.

Obtaining J-1 status from within the US

Researchers and professors who are in the US in J-1 status under the sponsorship of another Exchange Visitor program may have their sponsorship transferred to Carnegie Mellon. There are limitations to transfer; scholars may only transfer (1) within the same category, (2) if the objective remains the same, (3) if the total time in J-1 status is less than or equal to five years (or less than or equal to 6 months for short-term scholar category) and (4) if the SEVIS record is transferred before the end of the current J program. Current J-1 scholars request the transfer from their current J program sponsor.

Professors or researchers currently in another non-immigrant or visa status should contact an OIE advisor about options for changing status and correct procedures.

Transferring programs without leaving the country

Most scholars transfer to a new program without leaving the US. The current institution and CMU will be involved in the transfer process. After finalizing arrangements with the OIE advisor, the scholar will need to notify the current institution including the Foreign Scholar Advisor in the international office. CMU will generate a new DS-2019 form and help with the transfer process. Only after completing the formal transfer of DS-2019 sponsorship may a visiting researcher or professor begin work at CMU. Keep the old DS-2019 forms and current DS-2019 together, especially when travelling outside of the US. Contact OIE with any questions or concerns.

Leaving and reentering

Scholars who plan to travel outside of the US around the time of transfer may contact an OIE advisor. There are limitations, including 12-month and 24-month bars, on reentering the US after recent J-1 status in the US.

Last updated:  January 10, 2017