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International Programs

East Tennessee State University

Visiting Scholars

Visiting students title photo

 Map of Tennessee

The J Exchange Visitor Program is managed by the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Exchange. East Tennessee State University is a sponsor under such program and can issue DS-2019 for eligible persons who may wish to participate in the program.

The overall purpose of the Exchange Program, as proposed by the Fulbright-Hayes Act of 1961 is: to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges."

The prospective visitor must have an ETSU host faculty or department and such host or department must work with International Programs and Services regarding issuance of the DS-2019, visa and other pertinent documents.

Please contact International Programs and Services if you have any questions.

The Honors College 
International Programs and Services 
P.O. Box 70668 
Johnson City, TN 37614 
phone: 423 439 7737 
fax: 423 439 7131 


The objective of this guide is to provide ETSU departments with an overview of issues involved in hosting international visitors. For further information, please contact International Programs and Services at 439-7737.


When an ETSU department wants to invite an international scholar for a visit that involves payment of an honorarium or salary to the visitor, it is important to establish beforehand that the visitor will be eligible for payment while in the United States. A foreign person's eligibility to accept employment in the United States is covered under the Department of Homeland Security regulations and varies depending on the immigration status of the foreign person.

Under current regulations, visitors who enter the United States under the J-1, B-1, or B-2 visas may be eligible to receive an honorarium or salary and reimbursement of travel expenses.

The following is a guide for determining eligibility for payment and appropriate documentation:


B visas (visitors for pleasure or business)
  • Should be used for short-term visitors engaged in the activity being compensated for any portion of nine days or less.
  • Must not have received compensation from more than 5 U.S. sources in the last 6 months.

J visas Exchange Visitor Program
  • Should be used for long-term visitors (more than one month).
  • ETSU must issue visitor a form DS-2019 that the prospective visitor must use to apply for the J-1 visa.
  • J-1 visitors who are already in the U.S. under the J-1 status may transfer to ETSUs exchange program provided they meet eligibility requirements. Please consult the International Programs and Services Office regarding these cases before making an offer to the exchange visitor.
  • Visitors must have sufficient funds to support themselves and their family and financial documentation must be provided before form DS-2019 can be issued. APPLICATION PROCESS FOR A PROSPECTIVE VISITOR UNDER THE B-1/B-2 VISAS ETSU is not required to issue any documentation for visitors entering the U.S. under the B-1/B-2 status but departments may consider issuing an invitation letter to facilitate the visa petition process.
  • Complete the hiring paperwork as for a temporary appointment with the words "Contingent Upon Approved Work Authorization" on the employment contract, under other employment conditions.


Please note that, effective January 5, 2015, the attached policy on English language proficiency took effect.

  • Please complete the departmental request form for issuance of the DS-2019 by using the J-1 Scholar Request Form and making sure to submit all the required documentation. This may include a notation in the form regarding the visitors salary or stipend, a letter from the visiting professors government, scholarship agency or a personal bank statement. The host department is responsible for mailing the DS-2019, with other information required by the Department of State included, to the visitor to help them prepare to come to Johnson City.
  • Visitor uses DS-2019 to petition for a J-1 visa at an American Consulate overseas, after paying the $200 SEVIS fee
  • Please refer to item 12 for tax issues.
  • Complete the hiring paperwork as if for a temporary appointment with the words "Contingent Upon Approved Work Authorization" on the employment contract under other employment conditions and obtain approvals first. Upon visitor's arrival but no later than 15 days after arriving: Visitor should provide International Programs and Services copies of the following:- Passport, DS-2019, I-94 and any other pertinent immigration document. If the visitor will be an employee of ETSU, he or she must contact Human Resources as soon as possible so that appropriate paperwork can be processed.
  • Documentation of health insurance coverage.
  • If the visitor will be an ETSU employee, insurance coverage may be included in the benefits package and a benefit orientation letter will be forwarded to employee.
  • Current physical address. International Programs and Services must be notified, in writing, of changes in physical address within 10 days of its occurrence.
  • Notify our office if the visitor's employment is terminated. 
  • Notify our office if the visitor leaves the university more than 30 days earlier than the dates listed on the DS-2019.
  • Notify our office if the visitor is absent more than 30 days.  
Keep International Programs and Services and the Human Resources Office informed of any changes in physical address or health insurance coverage. The Exchange Visitor can only work as authorized on form DS-2019. Failure to comply with the Department of Homeland Security regulations may place the visitors in illegal status.
Scholars may purchase health insurance from sources other than the ETSU sponsored health insurance. Policies, however, must comply with the U.S. Department of State minimum requirements:
  • J-1 Scholar (Exchange Visitor Visa) Health Insurance policy must provide medical benefits of at least $100,000 for each accident or illness. It means that an acceptable policy couldn't set a maximum lower than $100,000 in benefits for each accident or illness.
  • If a J visa holder dies in the U.S., then the policy must provide at least $25,000 in repatriation benefits to send the remains to the home country for burial.
  • If, because of a serious illness or injury, you must be sent home on the advice of a doctor, the policy must pay up to $50,000 for the expenses of your travel.
  • A deductible must not exceed $500 per accident or illness.
  • J-1 Scholar (Exchange Visitor Visa) Health Insurance policy may establish a waiting period before it covers pre-existing conditions (that is, health problems you had before you bought the insurance), as long as the waiting period is reasonable by current standards in the insurance business.
  • If the scholars elect to satisfy the insurance requirement through a policy issued in your home country, the policy must be backed by the full faith and credit of your government. Otherwise, the company providing the insurance must meet minimum rating requirements established by the Department of State (an A.M. Best rating of A- or better, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of A-1 or better, a Standard & Poors Claims-Paying Ability rating of A- or better, or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or better). Contact person: Ruby Young.

Keep International Programs and Services informed of the exchange visitors travel plans or absences. It is the Host Departments responsibility to notify our office if the visitor is absent for more than 30 days or leaves the university more than 30 days earlier than the date listed on their DS-2019. 

If the exchange visitor will conduct research outside the U.S., contact our office. S/he may have options available but must speak with an advisor. 


International Programs and Services will mail an on-campus housing application brochure to the visitor, but departments must notify the Housing Office in writing that a visitor will be at ETSU as a guest of the department. Departments should include in this communication, the name, home address, phone number and e-mail address of the visitor, as well as the dates for arrival and departure and information on who is responsible for the rent.

Buc Village one bedroom apartments are quite popular with exchange visitors, but they are in short supply. The housing office asks that reservations for visitor's housing be made as early as possible.

If visitors are paying for housing themselves, a housing deposit and application is required. If departments are paying for housing, only an application form is necessary.

Visitors who prefer to stay off-campus will need help from the department in locating appropriate accommodations. Please find more information about off-campus housing at the Adult Commuter Transfer Services website.

Scholars are eligible to rent a post office box at the university post office. Rentals are $30 per year and a letter from the department, to the Post Office manager, indicating that the scholar is a guest of the university, would be helpful but it is not required. Scholars need to provide the post office with their name, permanent address, local phone number, department with which they are associated, and the $30 fee. It may also be possible for the individual to use the department mailing address, which is available at no cost.
Scholars will be eligible for a social security number once they arrive at ETSU. In order to obtain a social security card, the visitor will need some form of identification (i.e., birth certificate, passport, etc.) that is at least one year old and includes the visitor's date of birth, all immigration documents (DS-2019, I-94 and passport) and a letter from the IPS office confirming their immigration status.
ID cards may be necessary for scholars to gain access to the dorms, the library, recreation facilities, etc. The ID office will issue a card to a university guest provided that they have a letter from the department that includes the visitors name, local address, phone number and length of stay. If the visitor will be employed by ETSU, a copy of the employment contract will suffice for this purpose. Contact: Mr. Charles Forester, Student Identification Office Manager, at extension 9-8315. Cost is $5.
The ID card explained above would provide visiting scholars access to the library.
Visiting scholars may open a computer account that provides access to e-mail and other services they may require. The department must sign in and complete an online Computer Account Request Form to submit it to the Office of Information Technology Services.

The hosting department may request an extension of stay for their visiting scholar. The length of the extension will depend on the J-1 category of the visitor. Please complete the J-1 Scholar Request Form to request an extension of stay.

This request must reach International Programs and Services at least 2 weeks before current form DS-2019 expires. Contact persons: Chasity Drew or Danielle Olmo.

Frequently, there are income tax issues involved with bringing a foreign scholar to campus. These issues vary from case to case and from country to country. All visiting scholars receiving payment for services must complete a profile in our internet based tax system, GLACIER. This system will determine how the individual will be taxed. In general, the withholding rate is 30% for honorariums. The scholar must have a social security number or ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number) to receive an honorarium payment. They must have a SSN to be placed on the payroll. The GLACIER profile must be completed in advance of any payment. Please contact Jennifer Crigger, Director of Auxiliaries, as soon as the decision to invite someone has been made. Tax issues should be addressed before the scholars arrival to ensure timely payment.


The purpose of this page is to provide pre-arrival information and items of things you must do before and upon arriving in the United States. A LOT of steps are necessary for a smooth arrival to ETSU, which is provided in the following:

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.
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

161 S. Dossett Drive, Yoakley Hall, Room 122

Dr. Maria Costa, Director
Ms. Chasity Drew, International Student Advisor
Ms. Danielle Olmo, International Student Advisor
Ms. Hopelyn Mooney, Study Abroad Advisor
Ms. Ruby Young, Executive Aide
Ms. Melissa Noble, Secretary

P.O. Box 70668
Johnson City, TN 37614

(423) 439-7737

Fax Number:
(423) 439-7131

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


Visiting Scholars and their dependents must comply with several governmental regulations throughout their stay in the United States. The information here is generic and not exhaustive. Scholars are highly encouraged to discuss their particular situation with an advisor in International Programs and Services.


Once you are admitted to the United States under the J-1 status, you MUST follow the Department of States regulations and procedures pertaining to your nonimmigrant status.


Checking In
Come to International Programs and Services as soon as possible after your arrival on campus but not later than a week after arriving.

You MUST maintain a valid passport at all times.

Change of Address
You MUST notify our office of any change of address, in writing, within 10 days of such change.

Program Activities
You MUST engage ONLY in the activities permitted in your form DS-2019. You MUST not change activities or work location without consultation with an advisor in International Programs and Services.

Health Insurance

You MUST maintain health insurance coverage, for yourself and dependents, which meets the requirements of the Exchange Visitor Program. Exchange visitors can purchase the ETSU sponsored health insurance. 

Minimum coverage must include:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per person per accident or illness;
  • A deductible that does not exceed $500 per accident or illness;
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000; and
  • Expenses associated with medical evacuation in the amount of $50,000

Willful failure to comply with insurance requirements can result in your termination from the J-1 program.


Keep International Programs and Services informed of your travel plans. 

If you are traveling outside the U.S., you must have an endorsed travel signature for re-entry. Contact our office for that signature. 

If you will conduct research outside the U.S., contact our office. There may have options available but must speak with an advisor.

If you are traveling inside the U.S. contact our office and notify us of your plans. An advisor will assist you to continue to keep your SEVIS record active. 

If your ETSU DS-2019 will expire before the completion of your exchange program objective, the host department must request an extension of stay on your behalf. The maximum time allowed for a program extension will depend on your J-1 category. ETSU cannot extend DS-2019 issued by other program sponsors such as ISEP, Fulbright, ECFMG, etc.

Extending the DS-2019 means that the J-1 visitor is allowed to stay legally in the U.S. until the end date on that document or until the program is completed, whichever is earlier. In other words, the J-1 immigration status has been extended. The same is not true for your visa (the stamp in your passport) which is NOT automatically extended. If after obtaining the extension, an exchange visitor leaves the U.S. and wishes to re-enter in J-1 status, he/she may need to apply for a new visa stamp if the previous one will be expired on the day of re-entry to the U.S. For more information, please consult the International Programs and Services Office.

An extension of a current scholar's program must be completed BEFORE the DS-2019 expires. Please submit extensions at least 30 days before the expiration date on the DS-2019.


Extension Request Procedures
If visiting scholars are eligible for an extension of stay, the Host Department must complete another J-1 Scholar Request Form. However, the form should be marked 'Yes' for an extension request and must include the dates of the extension.

Because extensions are time sensitive, such requests must be submitted to International Programs and Services 30 days before the current DS-2019 expiration date.

Departments can submit requests to our main office email address:


An exchange visitor in any category 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.

An exchange visitor should discuss his or her plans for transferring with the RO/AROs of both programs and make sure that all parties involved have agreed on the date of transfer. ETSU departments wishing to sponsor transfer J-1 scholars should submit a request for issuance of the form DS-2019 to the International Programs and Services Office.

Please note: J-1 scholars MUST be in lawful J-1 status to be eligible for transfer and the transfer-out institution must release your SEVIS records to ETSU before a form DS-2019 can be issued.


Scholars must notify the International Programs and Services Office of their intention to transfer to another exchange program before accepting the other position.

A J-1 scholar under the sponsorship of ETSU who wishes to transfer to another institution must contact the International Programs and Services Office or the Office of Clinical Affairs in the College of Medicine for guidance on the transfer out procedures.


J1 scholars sponsored by ETSU may only be employed as stated on the form DS-2019. Work authorization is limited to the dates indicated on the current DS-2019.


Social Security Number

You will be able to apply for a security number once you have been in the United States for 10 days.

You will need a letter from your host department or from the Office of Clinical Affairs in the College of Medicine certifying to your J-1 status and your eligibility for a social security number.

In addition to the letter above and to a Social Security Application Form, you will need to take the following documents:

• Passport
• DS-2019
• I-94

Once you have this documents, you can go to the Social Security Office to apply for your number.

Local Social Security Office

Social Security Administration 
818 Sunset Dr, Suite 203 
Sunset Commons Building 
Johnson City, TN  37604

Directions to the Social Security Office

From ETSU turn left on State of Franklin Road. Stay on this road until you come to Sunset Drive and turn right. Go through one traffic light (Knob Creek Rd.) and pass Mahoneys on your left.

Then turn left into THE SUNSET COMMONS parking lot. It is on the top level, Suite 203.

When you go in, go straight to the computer, follow instructions and it will print out a number for you to take and wait until that number is called. If you need assistance, just ask the security guard.


Employment Authorization for Persons under the J-2 Immigration Status - (Dependents of Persons Under the J-1 Status)

Dependents of J-1 exchange visitors, who receive J-2 non-immigrant status upon entering the United States, may be eligible for employment authorization, provided the income generated by such employment will not be used to support the J-1 principal.

J-2s MUST apply to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) for and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) before commencing any form of employment.


Application Procedures

J-2 applicants need to submit the following items to USCIS:

  • Completed U.S. Department of Justice Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765)
  • I-765-employment request form
  • Check or money order in the amount of $340 made payable to: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Photocopy of Form I-94 (front and back) of J-1 (student or scholar)
  • Photocopy of Form I-94 (front and back) of J-2 (dependent)
  • Photocopy of current Form DS-2019 (both J-1 and J-2)
  • Cover letter
  • Photocopy of the first three pages in passport (clear copy of passport and/or visa photo required)
  • Two (2) passport type photos and
  • Mail the documents by certified mail with return receipt to the following address:
USCIS Texas Service Center
P. O. Box 851041
Mesquite, TX 75185-1041


The 12 and 24 month bars are different from the two-year home country residence requirement. Any indication below that there is “no wait” time refers only to the 12 and 24 month bars. It is possible that a J-1 visitor has no wait time related to the 12 and 24 month bars - but is subject to the two year home residency requirement. 

The 12 and 24 month rule affects J-1 exchange visitors who have been in the U.S. on a J-1 visa previously, and wish to return, using the J-1 visa. The bars prohibit certain “repeat participation” in the Research Scholar or Professor categories only. Depending on what your previous J category was, you may be subject to a 12 month bar, a 24 month bar or have no bar at all. The following chart shows how long you would have to wait (the 12 or 24 month bar) before you could obtain a new J-1 Research Scholar or Professor visa based on what your previous J status was. If you have never before had J-1 visa sponsorship, then the bars do not apply to you.

for LESS than 6 months
J-1 Student Non-Degree
green octagon           no wait

J-1 Student
green octagon           no wait

J-1 Research Scholar/Professor
Category for any amount of time (one day to five years)
red octagon           24 months

J-1 Short Term Scholar
green octagon           no wait

J-1 Specialist
green octagon           no wait

for MORE than 6 months
J-1 Student Non-Degree
yellow octagon           12 months

J-1 Student
yellow octagon           12 months

J-1 Specialist
yellow octagon           12 months

J-1 Research Scholar/Professor
Category for any amount of time (one day to five years)
red octagon           24 months

J-2 Dependent of Research Scholar/Professor Category
red octagon           24 months

J-2 Dependent of any J-1 category except Short Term Scholar
yellow octagon           12 months

(Adapted from Yale University)


The Host Department must complete a J-1 Scholar Request form and submit it with all required documentation to International Programs and Services. This is required before our office can issue the form DS-2019 the scholar needs to apply for the J-1 visa.

J-1 Scholar Request Form

Departments can submit requests to our main office email address:  

If visiting scholars are eligible for an extension of stay, the Host Department must complete another J-1 Scholar Request form. However, the form should be marked 'Yes' for an extension request and must include the dates of the extension. 

Because extensions are time sensitive, such requests must be submitted to International Programs and Services 30 days before the current DS-2019 expiration date.

J-1 Scholar-Request Form

Departments can submit requests to our main office email address:  

Eligible visiting scholars planning to transfer to another J-1 program must submit to International Programs and Services a SEVIS transfer out request. 

J-1 transfer out request form

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