Common Procedures for Continuing Exchange Visitors
To extend Form DS-2019 to continue in the same exchange visitor program, the RO/ARO will do the following:
- Determine that the exchange visitor has been maintaining his or her program status, and that the extension will not exceed any regulatory limits for the category (see Department of State Maximum and Minimum Duration of Participation Rules for limits on duration of stay for the particular category);
- Update SEVIS with the extended program information, including new end date and financial information. This must be done prior to the end date of the current DS-2019;
- Print and sign the revised DS-2019; and
- Give the revised DS-2019 to the exchange visitor, who should sign and retain it.
In order to request an extension, please fill out the J-1 Program Extension Form.
Changes of Category
In general, a change of category represents a change of objective. DOS must authorize a change of category before an RO can issue a DS-2019 for the new category. The regulatory standard is that "any change of category must be clearly consistent with and closely related to the participant's original exchange objective and necessary due to unusual or exceptional circumstances."
Granting a change of category is entirely within the discretion of the DOS Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation, which tightly interprets the "unusual and exceptional" standard. Changes of category are therefore very difficult to obtain.
As long as the request has been submitted prior to the expiration of the current DS-2019, the exchange visitor will be considered to be in valid program status until a response is received from DOS. He or she may continue in the activities appropriate to the original category, including employment.
If the application is denied, the exchange visitor may remain in the original category until the expiration of Form DS-2019 (plus the standard 30-day "grace" period.) The regulations are silent on whether a transfer of program or extension of stay may be processed under the usual conditions after a denial of category change, and in the absence of regulation, this should be permissible. If the DS-2019 has already expired by the time a denial notice is issued, a 30-day period is granted to leave the country, during which time the visitor is considered to be maintaining lawful status., but can no longer engage in the exchange activity.
An exchange visitor who has completed one program and exits the United States may return in a new category, or under new program sponsorship at a later time (for important exceptions to this rule which affect reentry in the J-1 Professor/Research Scholar category, see 24-month bar on repeat participation and Twelve-month bar after previous J participation). The exchange visitor, if otherwise eligible for entry, would have to use a "begin a new program" Form DS-2019 issued by the new sponsor. Once entry has been processed by the immigration inspector, he or she is officially in the new category. In this case it is not necessary to obtain authorization for a category change from the DOS. This is, however, considered a new entry in J-1 status, and not a category change.
For additional information, please see the RO/ARO.
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An exchange visitor may transfer from one program sponsor to another if the purpose of the transfer is to complete the objective for which he or she was admitted to exchange visitor status and if the exchange visitor remains within the same participant category.
Before beginning the transfer process, an exchange visitor should discuss his or her plans with the RO/AROs of both programs, make a definite decision about the transfer, and make sure that all parties involved have agreed on the date of transfer. It may be very difficult to change the date of transfer after the process has been started. This has always been good practice, but program sponsors are also obligated by regulation to work together to ensure a smooth transfer
In order to request a transfer, please complete the appropriate form.
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Shorten, End, or Terminate Program
The RO/ARO can shorten the program duration for en Exchange Visitor. A new Program End Date that meets the maximum and minimum duration of participants rules must be selected.
The Exchange Visitor's program participation can be ended (concluded) for the following reasons:
- Death of Exchange Visitor
- Inability to continue program
- Program completed 30 or more days before program end date
- Withdrawal from program
The Exchange Visitor's program can also be terminated by the RO/ARO, and has an adverse effect on the Exchange Visitor. The Exchange Visitor's program can be terminated for the following reasons:
- Conviction of a crime
- Disciplinary action
- Engaging in unauthorized employment
- Failure to pursue Exchange Visitor program activity
- Failure to submit change of current address within 10 days
- Failure to maintain health insurance
- Failure to maintain a full course of study
- Involuntary suspension
- Violating Exchange Visitor program regulations
- Violating sponsor rules governing the program
- Other (if used, must enter an explanation of program termination)