All nonimmigrant visa holders who are in the United States are subject to frequently changing United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations. These regulations can be complex and challenging at times. The DGSOM Visa & Licensing Office provides advice about these regulations to the foreign nationals, faculty and staff. There are also School of Medicine policies which may further restrict visa options. It is important to contact the DGOSM Visa & Licensing Office when situations arise which involve a nonimmigrant’s visa status. Each individual has a unique set of circumstances and our Office is designed to evaluate each case individually.
The following section provides a summary of important terms and forms which are frequently referred to when dealing with international visitors.
Frequently Used Terms
Please explore the below frequently asked questions for quick answers. If you do not find the answers you are looking for feel free to give the International Medical Licensing & Visas office a call between 11 AM and 4 PM, Monday thru Friday for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is qualified to sponsor a J-1 visiting scholar?
Any faculty member who holds an active UCLA academic appointment.
I entered the U.S. in J-1 status and my I-94 card (Arrival & Departure Record) states "D/S". What does it mean?
"D/S" refers to Duration of Status which means that you are permitted to remain in the U.S. as long as your DS-2019 is valid and you are engaging in the activities stated on the DS-2019.
What do I do if my I-94 card indicates an expiration date instead of "D/S"?
You need to go to the USCIS office in downtown Los Angeles for a deferred inspection and have your I-94 card annotated correctly by the USCIS officer.
Can I bring my nephew or niece as my dependent in J-2 status?
No, only your spouse and unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) are eligible for J-2 status.
My spouse is in J-2 status. Can he/she work?
Yes, your spouse is allowed to work in the U.S. as long as he/she has received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. Click here for information on J-2 Work Authorization Guidelines.
Can I come to the U.S. on B-1/B-2 status or the visa waiver program, prior to receiving a DS-2019 from UCLA, and change the status to J-1 in the U.S.?
No. You will have to leave the U.S., apply for a J-1 visa at the U.S. Consulate in your home country, and re-enter the U.S. in J-1 status, since the change of status processing takes over 6 months with USCIS.
Can I apply for a J-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate in Canada or Mexico?
You may try, however, there is a risk that your visa may be denied. If your visa is denied, you will need to re-apply for J-1 visa in your home country. You will need to make an appointment with the Consulate in Canada or Mexico before you apply for the J-1 visa. For more information, visit the State Department’s website.
What kind of documents do I need to re-enter the U.S. after a trip?
You will need a travel endorsement signed by the Responsible Officer, a valid visa stamp and a valid passport. If your visa stamp will have expired on the date of your re-entry, you will need to request a duplicate DS-2019 for travel from the Visa & Licensing Office. Once you receive the duplicate DS-2019, you will need to apply for visa stamp renewal at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your home country.
What if I am traveling to a country for an international conference and my visa stamp has expired?
Contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in that country prior to your departure, and ask if they will process visa stamp renewal applications for third country nationals. If they do not process visas for third country nationals, then you’ll need to apply for the visa stamp renewal in your home country. Check with the State Department’s website for information on the foreign consulates abroad.
Can I travel to Mexico with an expired visa stamp?
If you visit Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean islands (except Cuba) for less than 30 days, 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. Because of this, it is advisable that you do not surrender your I-94 card to authorities when you leave the U.S.
Special travel regulations for Canada, Mexico, or Caribbean Islands
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. The following categories of individuals are excluded from using this benefit:
Please note that if your visit will extend for more than 30 days, you must have a valid U.S. visa stamp in order to re-enter the U.S. 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 the State Department’s website for current information on foreign consulates in the U.S.
Can I extend or transfer my J-1 status after I receive a waiver approval of the Two Year Home Residence Requirement?
No, you cannot extend or transfer J-1 status after you have obtained the waiver approval from the State Department; however, time remaining on your current DS-2019 may be utilized. You will need to change your visa status to another category.
Can I travel outside of the U.S. after I have received my waiver approval of the Two Year Home Residence Requirement?
Once you or your dependent(s) travel and re-enter the U.S., you or your dependent(s) will be subject to the Two Year Home Residence Requirement all over again.
How far in advance do I apply for a change in status?
It is recommended that applications for a change in status are started 5 months in advance of the change.
I'm planning on getting married, how do I bring my spouse to the U.S.?
Contact your department Visa Coordinator for a DS2019 for your spouse.
How far in advance can I arrive on my J-1?
You may arrive no more than 30 days in advance of your start date.
I am planning to return to my country upon completion of my research program under J-1 visa. Do I have to leave the U.S. on or before the expiration date stated on the DS-2019?
You have 30 days of grace period from the expiration date stated on the DS-2019. During the grace period you may prepare to leave the U.S. or may travel WITHIN the U.S. You may NOT work or engage in any research activities during your grace period, nor volunteer beyond the DS-2019 end date.