skip to main content columnskip to left navigation

Search Options
ETSU Faculty/Staff
ETSU Students

ETSU People Search

International Programs

East Tennessee State University

Pre-arrival information





ETSU will mail you the form DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status, which you will use to petition for a J-1 visa at the American Consulate having jurisdiction over your place of residence.  Further information on visa issuance can be obtained at the U.S. State Department web site:  The form DS-2019 will be used, with the visa and passport, for entry into the United States.  Upon your arrival in the United States, an immigration officer at the port of entry will process your DS-2019 and return it to you with an I-94 (arrival departure) card.  Once you arrive on campus, you must bring all your immigration documentation to our office for appropriate processing.


The SEVIS I-901 fee went into effect September 1, 2004. New students and exchange visitors with a Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 are subject to the fee.  Please visit the payment website at for more information.  Continuing students and exchange visitors are not required to pay the fee except under certain circumstances; complete information on who needs to pay the fee, and questions and answers can be found at the SEVP website  This fee MUST be paid prior to petitioning for a visa.


If you are in the United States under the sponsorship of another Exchange Visitor Program, you may change your sponsorship to ETSU, provided the purpose of the transfer is to complete the objective for which you were admitted to exchange status.  There are several issues at play in the transferring process and we advise that you contact both your current sponsor and our office for further guidance and verification of transfer eligibility.


If you are in the United States under other than the J-1 status, you may be able to change to J-1 by filing an application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).  It is also possible you will have to leave the country, apply for a J-1 visa stamp at a United States Consulate, and then re-enter.  Call our office for more information.


Johnson City is served by the Tri-Cities Airport (airport code - TRI), located approximately 18 miles from the university.  A wealth of information about the airport, including a list of airlines serving the area is available at their website.  Delta is the major carrier serving the area, in addition to commuter lines. Limousines and taxi cabs are available from the airport to Johnson City for approximately $42.  Greyhound Lines (bus) also services Johnson City


YOU CANNOT ENTER THE U.S. MORE THAN 30 DAYS BEFORE THE REPORTING DATE NOTED IN ITEM 3 ON YOUR DS-2019.  Should your program dates change, please notify us so that a new form DS-2019 can be issued.


Upon arrival in Johnson City, you are required by the U.S. Department of State to attend a mandatory orientation.  You will need to bring your immigration documents (passport, J-1 visa, DS-2019, and I-94 card), proof of insurance and personal and emergency contact information. Please call 423-439-7737 to schedule your appointment with an advisor.


Cost for on-campus housing ranges from $1500 per semester for a dormitory room to $3000 for a shared 2-bedroom apartment.  Off-campus apartments may rent from $500 - $800 per month and requires deposits for rent, electricity, and telephone connections.

We estimate that living expenses will require approximately $1,300 per month for a single person.  No school fees are payable to this school by Exchange Visitor professors, research scholars, or specialists unless they decide to attend classes.  ETSU and many Johnson City establishments will accept major credit cards (Visa and MasterCard).


You will be able to purchase anything you may need in Johnson City.  For purposes of immediate settling down, however, we suggest you bring with you: bed linens, towels and blankets and toiletries.


Exchange Visitors are required, as a condition of their J-1 status in the United States, to carry health insurance for themselves and their accompanying family members (J-2).  By government regulation, minimum coverage must provide the following:

            $100,000 per accident or illness

            $25,000 for repatriation of remains

            $50,000 for medical evacuation to the home country, and

            A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

ETSU will make insurance coverage available for you to purchase upon arrival at a cost of approximately $600 per semester.  Dependent coverage is considerably more.

The health insurance coverage that you will purchase at ETSU will not provide you with dental and eye coverage.  We strongly recommend that you have a dental and eye examination before departing for the United States. You may also want to purchase travel insurance, as your ETSU insurance will not be effective until your purchase date.

 Please note:  Health Insurance coverage is required from your day of arrival.


Exchange Visitors who are subject to the two-year home residency requirement, must return to their home countries and be physically present there for an aggregate of two years before being eligible to return to the United States in immigrant status, H status, or L status.  For the terms of the requirement, please see item 1. (a) on page 2 of your DS-2019 form.  If you have questions about the requirement, including whether or not you will be subject to it, please raise them with the consular office when you apply for a visa or direct them to our office.


You may be able to stay on-campus, provided there is an apartment or dormitory room available during your stay.  For information on campus housing, please contact the Housing Office at .

Off-campus:  Off-campus housing may prove difficult to secure before you arrive.  If you wish to live off-campus, please make plans to arrive in Johnson City at least two weeks before the start of your exchange program to secure appropriate accommodations.  You should feel free to contact your academic department to see if they can help you locate off-campus housing.  Please see the Adult, Commuter, and Transfer Services website for off-campus housing information.


Limitations of stay for persons entering the U.S. under the J-1 Exchange Program depend on the exchange visitor category, as follows:

            Research Scholar 5 years

            Professor 3 years

            Specialist 3 years

            Short Term Scholars 6 months (no extension permitted)


Your permission to stay in the United States expires on the date shown in item 3 of your form DS-2019.  If an extension is necessary and permitted under the regulations, you MUST contact the J-1 Responsible Officer (in our office) at least two months before the expiration date.


An exchange visitor may receive compensation from the sponsor or the sponsors appropriate designee for employment when such activities are part of the exchange visitors program.  Your form DS-2019 will note compensation, if any, provided to you by ETSU as part of your exchange program.


If you plan to work on campus, you must have a social security number before you can receive compensation. Please see the Social Security Administration website for detailed information.  Additional information will be provided at your orientation.


Many international students and scholars who come to Johnson City are interested in sharing their heritage with the campus and the surrounding community.  International Programs and Services receives frequent requests from schools, civic groups, churches, etc. who want to meet international students and scholars and learn about their countries and culture.   We would encourage you to get involved in exchange activities by bringing photographs, music CDs, flags, etc., which can prove very helpful if you go out to talk to those groups.


In the Johnson City area, we have four distinct seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. The winter season usually lasts from late November to early April with periodic snowfalls, sleet, and generally very cold weather.   We recommend you include warm clothing in your luggage. Spring and fall usually bring mild weather, and although summer days can be hot, the evenings are usually pleasantly cool. 


You may use the address of International Programs and Services as your temporary US address or you should be able use your host departments mailing address to receive mail while you are here.

(Your Name)

East Tennessee State University
c/o International Programs and Services
P.O Box 70668
Johnson City, TN  37614  USA  


Location: 161 S. Dossett Drive, Yoakley Hall, Room 122

Staff:  Dr. Maria Costa, Director

          Ms. Chasity Drew, International Student Advisor

          Ms. Danielle Olmo, International Student Advisor

          Ms. Patricia Lin-Steadman, Study Abroad Advisor

          Ms. Janice Howell, Executive Aide

          Ms. Melissa Noble, Secretary

Address:  ETSU
                P.O. Box 70668              
                Johnson City, TN  37614

Telephone:      (423) 439-7737

Fax #:              (423) 439-7131



Office hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

icon for left menu icon for right menu