Check your Visa Categories and Eligibility
There are various types of non-immigrant visas for temporary visitors to visit DGSOM for short and long term activities. The nature of the intended activities to be undertaken at DGSOM, combined with interpretation and application of the immigration regulations that govern an individual’s status, will help determine what type of immigration status is sponsored. In this section, you will find information about DGSOM policies and procedures, as well as important information about immigration regulations that may limit or prohibit certain activities. This information is intended to be used as guide; it not intended to replace consultation and advisement by the DGSOM Visa and Licensing Office.
Quick Reference Definitions
J-1 : The Exchange Visitor (J) non-immigrant visa category is for individuals approved to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs.
H-1B Temporary Worker : For individuals coming to be a temporary full-time position with a U.S. employer that requires a professional level of education and experience.
O-1 Extraordinary Worker : Available to individuals who have demonstrated a record of national or international acclaim, a level of expertise indicating that the person has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.
Permanent Residence : The DGSOM will support applications for permanent residence if the position is permanent, full time career, and sufficiently high level (e.g., appointments in the Professor and Professional Research series).
B-1/B2 Visitor : Intended for individuals visiting the U.S., generally restricted from working while in the U.S.
Visa Waiver Program : The visa waiver program allows citizens of certain countries to enter the U.S. without visas.
E-3 : The E-3 nonimmigrant classification allows citizens of Australia to perform services in a specialty occupation in the US.
Full Descriptions and Additional Information
J-1 H-1B Temporary Worker O-1 Extraordinary Worker Permanent Residence
B-1/B2 Visitor Visa Waiver Program E-3
ATTENTION: United States immigration regulations require all J-1 visa holders to report to the Visa & Licensing Office (J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor) immediately upon arrival in the U.S. Failure to do so will result in serious consequences to immigration status and future vists to the U.S.
The J visa is a nonimmigrant visa. The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is "to provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the United States and return home to share their experiences, and to encourage Americans to participate in educational and cultural programs in other countries" (8 CFR 514.1(b)). Exchange Visitors (EVs) enter the U.S. on a J visa. The DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status) is required to obtain a J-1 nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad, to extend the stay of the J-1 in the U.S., or to transfer from another institution to UCLA.
ELIGIBILITY UCLA School of Medicine sponsors visiting scholars only. There are 4 categories under which a visiting scholar can be classified in J-1 status. Please refer to the table below for eligibility and conditions. If your prospective Exchange Visitor (EV) has been in the U.S. as a J-1 Exchange Visitor in either the Professor or Research Scholar category or as J-2 dependent status within the last 12 months for a period exceeding 6 months, he/she is not eligible to enter the U.S. as a J-1 research scholar or professor to start a new program. The minimum educational level required for all categories below is masters degree or bachelors degree with substantial experience in their respective specialty field.
Professor - Maximum 5 years To teach courses and conduct advanced research. This category includes Lectureres and Professors on non-tenured track appointments.
Research Scholar -Maximum 5 years. Includes time spent at another institution on a J-1 visa To participate in research activities under the supervision of a UCLA faculty member. May hold PGR or Visiting Scholar Appointments. May not hold a Clinical title. This category also includes speakers at Conferences receiving an honorarium from UCLA.
Specialist - Maximum of 1 year. No extension of stay allowed An individual who is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill coming to the U.S.A. for observing, consulting, or demonstrating special skills. May hold SRA or equivalent appointment.
Short-term Scholar - Maximum of 6 months. No extension of stay allowed A professor, researcher, or person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the U.S.A. on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills. This category includes speakers at Conferences receiving an honorarium from UCLA.
Non-Degree Student - Maximum of 2 years. Maximum of 20 hours of employment per week. No more than 50% of funds can be personal A student currently enrolled in a graduate program abroad, who is coming to UCLA to conduct research. Classified as a "Visiting Graduate Researcher" and appointed through the Graduate Division. Provisional appointment through the Graduate Division is required. Contact the Graduate Division PRIOR to submitting a J application in this category.
HOME RESIDENCE REQUIREMENT The Immigration and Nationality Act has placed certain limitations on J-1 visa holders. one of these is the "two-year home residence requirement".
The U.S. Embassy or Consulate makes a determination at the time of visa issuance, and the USCIS acting on behalf of the U.S. State Department determines the applicability of this requirement to an EV's program upon entry into the United States. An EV subject to this requirement may apply for a waiver of the home residence requirement.
EVs may decide to change their status to another visa category while in the United States. When changing status, if there is a discrepancy on either the visa stamp or the DS-2019 (one states subject to 212(e), and the other states not subject), then it will be necessary for the individual to apply for an Advisory Opinion with the State Department.
EMPLOYMENT OF EXCHANGE VISITORS AND THEIR DEPENDENT(S) EVs are authorized to receive funds from the organization(s) listed on the DS-2019. EVs wishing to receive funds from other than those sources require special authorization(s) from their visa sponsor. Employment may be authorized by the Dean's Office if:
J-1 visa holders whose DS-2019 were not issued by UCLA must be authorized in writing by the issuer of the DS-2019 before being compensated for services rendered at UCLA unless authorized in writing by their respective J-1 sponsor.
J-2 visa holders (dependents of J-1s), may work in the U.S. if they show economic necessity and are specifically authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). For more information, please contact Visa and Licensing Office at the School of Medicine.
EXCHANGE VISITORS FUNDING AND SOURCES OF FUNDS Before an DS-2019 is issued, UCLA must be satisfied that prospective EVs have sufficient funds to carry out their primary activities at UCLA. The table below shows the current minimum amounts required to qualify for J-1 status at UCLA. Additionally, EVs must carry adequate health insurance throughout their stay at UCLA (see below). Those who fail to comply with such requirement become ineligible for UCLA's J-1 sponsorship and will be terminated from the program.
New rates effective October 1, 2012:
If the Exchange Visitor:
*will be subject to the 2 year home residence requirement 212(e) based on government funding
For an EV funded by UCLA, please indicate:
MANDATORY HEALTH INSURANCE REQUIREMENT The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations governing Exchange Visitor Programs (22CFR514.14) require that the EV and his/her dependent(s) obtain health, accident, medical evacuation and repatriation of remains insurance. A qualifying insurance policy MUST provide:
The insurance policy must be underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of “A-“ or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-“ or above, a Standard & Poor’s Claims paying Ability of “A-“ or above, a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above, or such other rating services as the State Department may specify from time to time. Insurance coverage backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor’s home country shall be deemed to meet this requirement.
Any exchange visitor who willfully refuses to comply with this requirement shall be considered to be in violation of his/her exchange visitor status. The program sponsor is obligated to inform the State Department of the exchange visitor’s noncompliance.
In addition to meeting federal regulations, all exchange visitors are also required to meet the appropriate campus or institutions’ medical insurance requirements. All J-1 exchange visitors appointed through UCLA Graduate are required to enroll in the Visiting Scholar Injury and Sickness Insurance Plan (VSISP) through Garnett-Powers & Associates. Information regarding eligibility, requirements, enrollment and the waiver approval process can be found on the UCLA Graduate Division website at http://www.gdnet.ucla.edu/gss/postdoc/vshlthbnft.htm as well as on the Garnett-Powers site at http://www.garnett-powers.com.
PROGRAM TRANSFER EV who will continue a program (study, research, or teaching) started at another institution may transfer to if:.
Copies of ALL prior DS-2019s issued are required before we will issue an DS-2019. Changes of J-1 visa category, i.e. from student to research scholar/professor, require State Department approval and may be difficult to obtain. For EV's whose I-94 forms show "D/S" as ending date, the transfer may be approved by UCLA. Otherwise, USCIS approval is required and while the application is in process, the EV cannot receive any monies from UCLA.
TEMPORARY TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE U.S. To return to the U.S., you must have:
If you do not need to renew your visa stamp, you can reenter the U.S. with an endorsed DS-2019. You must have a valid travel authorization signature on the DS-2019 for reentry. Present the new DS-2019 at the U.S. Consulate in your home country.
UPDATED - Special travel regulations for Canada, Mexico, or Caribbean Islands If you visit Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean islands (except Cuba) for 30 days or less, you will need your DS-2019 (endorsed by the Responsible Officer), I-94 card, and a valid passport. You will be allowed to re-enter the U.S. even if your visa stamp has expired, as long as you are in possession of all other required documents. In such cases, your visa stamp is considered to be automatically revalidated. The DS-2019 and the I-94 card must cover the period during which you are traveling. As of April 1, 2002, the following categories of individuals are excluded from using this benefit:
The governments of Canada and Mexico may require citizens from your country to have a visa before entering their countries. You may need to pay a visa processing fee to enter these countries. Before traveling to either of these countries, check with the Canadian Consulate (1-213-346-2700) or the Mexican Consulate (1-213-351-6815) or check theState Department’s website for current information on foreign consulates in the U.S.
PROGRAM CATEGORY Changes from one J-1 program category to another (i.e. research scholar to student or vice versa) are NOT usually permitted by the State Department or the USCIS. Therefore, exchange visitors should not be brought into the U.S. on J-1 visas under one program category with the assumption that they can shift easily to another program category after their arrival. For category changes from research J-1 to ECFMG’s clinical J-1, please refer to ECFMG’s website or contact the Visa & Licensing Office.
B-1/B-2 or VISA WAIVER (WT/WB) EVs who enter the U.S. on a tourist or personal business visa (B-1/B-2) will face difficulty in changing their status to J-1 visa. It may take over 6 months to obtain J-1 status in the U.S., or they have to leave the U.S. and re-enter on a J-1 visa status. EVs on B-1/B-2 or Visa Waiver status will not be permitted to participate as an Exchange Visitor during this period, nor can they receive any U.S. monies. EVs on Visa Waiver status will not be permitted to change their status within the U.S.
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Processing Time: USCIS processing time can be greatly reduced by submitting a premium processing request, along with the H petition, to the USCIS. This check for $1225 should be made payable to: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Premium processing time at USCIS cannot exceed 15 working days.
Attorney Outsource Option: All Initial H-1B processing is outsourced to immigration counsel (referred by the Dean's Office). Outsourced H-1B cases will entail legal fees. Due to prevailing wage issues, all bargaining unit H1-B cases must be paid by the department.
Travel Advisory: Please note that if you are in the United States and applying for a change of visa status to H-1B, any travel plans should be put on hold until the visa has been approved by USCIS. The visa could take up to 6 months or longer for the USCIS to approve.
H-1B Portability Provisions: H-1B workers who are currently employed in H-1B status are allowed to move to another H-1B employer in a similar position and be put on payroll once the USCS filing receipt is issued. Once USCIS has approved the new H-1B petition, the individual may continue employment with the new employer without interruption. The portability provisions require that the H-1B temporary worker be employed at the current employer at the time UCLA files a petition with USCIS on their behalf. Verification of employment, such as pay stubs, may also be needed.
TN PROFESSIONALS UNDER NAFTA Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican citizens in designated professions may be admitted into the United States in TN status for one year intervals to work in their professions. Please note there are substantial differences in the procedures to acquire TN status for Canadian and Mexican citizens. Those individuals who have legal permanent residence in Canada, but do not have Canadian citizenship are ineligible for TN status. Citizens of Canada may use TN status to teach and do research at the University. The TN category for physicians does not support a clinical residency or fellowship. Citizens of Mexico may use the TN visa status and to do research. The documentation and procedures for Mexican nationals to obtain TN status involves the filing of a Labor Condition Application (LCA), a process similar to the H-1B category. For TN applications and processing guidelines, please contact the Dashew Center for International Students & Scholars (DCISS).
O-1 sponsorship is available to full time faculty and high level researchers who have been precluded from obtaining H-1B status due to the H-1B quota limitations, or those who have been unable to obtain a waiver of the two year home residence requirement 212(e) (see section on immigration information). For those who are subject to the two year home residence requirement, the international visitor must realize that he/she must travel outside the United States to obtain the O-1 visa once the petition is approved. The O-1 is not to be used for training positions such as Clinical Resident or Fellow. An O-1 visa petition will be supported by DGSOM only when the applicant has applied for internal approval, been approved by the Dean’s Office, and notified as cleared by the Visa and Licensing Office. Once preclearance has been approved by the Dean’s Office, outside counsel will be engaged to assist with filing the petitions with USCIS. Download the Internal O-1 Guidelines.
Some faculty and researchers may obtain U.S. permanent residence through employment at UCLA. The DGSOM will support applications for permanent residence if the position is permanent, full time career, and sufficiently high level (for example, appointments in the Professor and Professional Research series qualify). Titles that are temporary in nature, such as Postdoctoral Scholar, or staff positions will not qualify. All potential applicants must be approved by the Dean’s Office and notified that preclearance has been approved by the Dean’s Office. Once preclearance has been approved by the Dean’s Office, outside counsel will be engaged to assist with the filing of the permanent residence petition. For internal permanent residence guidelines and applications click here.
The most common visa categories are the B-1 Visitor for Business and the B-2 Visitor for Pleasure. Depending on each country’s reciprocity schedule, these visas may be granted for up to ten years. While the visa may be valid for up to ten years, periods of admission to the U.S. are normally authorized for only six months. Extensions may be granted for an additional six-month period. Individuals holding visitor visas must be careful not to confuse the validity of the visa with the authorized period of stay. A visa will automatically be invalidated if the visitor overstays for even one day. B-1 business visitors are usually admitted only for the period required to conduct their business. In order to observe at UCLA, a B-1 business visitor must have an invitation letter issued by a UCLA faculty member, and must check in with the UCLA Department upon arrival for additional processing. UCLA has additional restrictive policies concerning B-1 visitors and reimbursements. Visitors are generally prohibited from working in the United States. Although the visitor visa may appear to be an expedient way to enter the United States, we advise UCLA J-1 and H-1B candidates to NOT enter the United States on a visitor visa in the hope of obtaining a change of status to another visa category, since a change of status in the United States can take from 6 months to one year to obtain through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The visa waiver program allows citizens of the countries listed below to enter the United States without visas. Visitors receive either WT status (visitor for pleasure) or WB status (visitor for business). These visitors cannot remain in the U.S. for more than 90 days and cannot extend or change to another status.
The E-3 nonimmigrant classification allows citizens of Australia to perform services in a specialty occupation in the US. Please contact the Dashew Center for questions regarding E-3 visa types.