The congressional act that established the J exchange visitor category states as its objective “to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges.” International Student and Scholar Services operates the University’s program according to these principles, and thus will suggest other immigration statuses when the J-1 is not appropriate.

The following basic qualifications must be met before a DS-2019 is issued. If any of these are questionable, International Student and Scholar Services may ask for further clarification to determine eligibility for J-1 status.

  • The scholar must be coming to The University of Iowa for a temporary period of teaching, research, or a similar professional activity that is not expected to last longer than 5 years. (If longer term employment is anticipated, you should contact the Faculty and Staff Immigration Services unit of Human Resources concerning a different immigration status.)
  • The scholar must have an academic background appropriate for their activities. Normally an advanced degree is expected of an exchange visitor, although this is not a firm rule, as experience in certain academic fields can substitute for the degree.
  • The scholar must have sufficient English skills to undertake their activities at the University. U.S. Department of State regulations require J scholars to demonstrate English proficiency, but in some cases having a translator present may still be helpful. Confer with the Scholar English Proficiency page for how to determine proficiency.
  • The primary purpose of the scholar cannot be to take academic classes, either on a degree or non-degree basis. J-1 scholars are limited to occasional, part-time coursework which is secondary to their professional activities.
  • The scholar cannot be coming to The University of Iowa to pursue graduate medical education or training, nor to have primary responsibility for patient care. The University’s J-1 program cannot accommodate these activities; if this is the purpose for the scholar’s visit, he/she must receive a DS-2019 through the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) through the UIHC House Staff Affairs office.

Responsibilities of the Host Department and Faculty

To invite a J-1 scholar to campus, here are some high level points to be aware of:

  • Use this page as a guide to the process to establish a DS-2019 for each scholar. The DS-2019 form permits a prospective exchange visitor to seek an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in order to obtain a J visa to enter the United States. The procedure noted below incorporates information from this page.
  • It is the scholar's host's (your department's) responsibility to submit paperwork to ISSS for DS-2019 processing.


It is important that the scholar’s host understand their responsibilities, particularly in terms of reporting events to International Student and Scholar Services. Failure to provide timely information to ISSS can jeopardize the scholar’s legal status. The host department and faculty member must do the following:

  • Inform International Student and Scholar Services of any of the following events which relate to legal status and immigration reporting requirements: (1) The arrival of the scholar in the United States or, in case of transfer from another program that the scholar has begun activities at The University of Iowa. This notification must be done within one business day of arrival. (2) A delay of more than 7 days in the anticipated arrival of an exchange visitor for whom a DS-2019 has been issued. (3) Whenever an anticipated exchange visitor will not be coming to The University of Iowa. (4) Any significant change in activities of an exchange visitor. Any change of employment status, including a change in employing department, must be approved by ISSS before it takes effect. Failure to obtain authorization for a change in employment could cause termination of the exchange visitor’s status and require their departure from the United States. Departure from the United States prior to the scheduled end date of the DS‑2019.
  • Inform the scholar of insurance requirements BEFORE they come to the U.S.
  • Ensure that the exchange visitor schedules an orientation/check-in appointment within 5 days of arrival in the United States.
  • Provide the scholar an appropriate appointment—paid or complimentary—in the University’s Human Resources computer system. Unpaid scholars will receive University ID cards, HawkID’s, an computer and library privileges only through this complimentary appointment. (Note that programs who normally would appoint unpaid positions in the UIHC's ERMA system must instead or also create the complimentary appointment in the central HR system.)
  • Provide necessary assistance to the scholar in meeting arrival and settling in needs, including locating housing. (The University website has links to off-campus housing resources.)
  • Provide the professional support required for the scholar to meet their objectives while at The University of Iowa.
  • Provide an English translator to accompany the scholar if the scholar is unable to clearly communicate with various University of Iowa offices/staff. (New Department of State regulations require J scholars to demonstrate English proficiency, but in some cases having a translator present may still be helpful.)

Procedure to follow to invite a J-1 scholar

Department administrators seeking to invite scholars should submit an e-form group request to ISSS. In order to do so, please follow the steps below:

  1. Draft and send an invitation letter to each scholar using the template linked below. This should be sent to the scholar with a cc to Michael Bortscheller (michael-bortscheller@uiowa.edu) and Russ Ganim (russell-ganim@uiowa.edu). If the scholar is being invited in conjunction with a visit for an affinity group, a Major Projects Award, or a Provost's Global Forum, also cc Daniel Vorwerk (daniel-vorwerk@uiowa.edu). The scholar will bring this with them to their interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate as well as the port of entry after arriving to the United States. The inviting department will also use this letter to submit to ISSS in the next steps.

    J-1 Scholar Invitation Letter Template

  2. Go to the iHawk system at https://ihawk.uiowa.edu and select "Administrative Services for University Departments." Login using your HawkID and password.
  3. If this is your first time logging in to iHawk, request department access. ISSS tries to review requests for access on a daily basis. If you need immediate access, please call ISSS at 319-335-0335. If you already have department access, you may skip this step.
  4. Review the menu located along the left side of the screen. In "Departmental Services," submit an "Add New Person" e-form request. You will need the scholar applicant's:
    • First, Middle, and Last Name
    • Date of Birth
    • Gender
    • E-mail Address
  5. Please select "University of Iowa" as your campus. If the scholar is new to the University of Iowa, please answer "no" when asked if the applicant has a university ID or network ID. The system will immediately generate a temporary ID upon submission that you will use to begin the application process.
  6. In "Departmental Services," select "J-1 Scholar Application." You will need the applicant's temporary ID and birthdate to access the main page of the e-form and begin the e-form group. There are 7 required e-forms in this group and 3 additional e-forms. Please utilize the key along the bottom of the screen to determine the status of the e-forms. You may give "Client Access" when completing the required J-1 Applicant Information e-form and optional SEVIS Dependent & J-1 Scholar Transfer In Request e-forms. Client Access enables the scholar applicant to complete the e-form. If you do provide client access to the J-1 scholar, please inform him/her to follow the instructions in the e-mail he/she receives to login to iHawk. Once logged in, the scholar will need to navigate to the menu located along the left side of the screen and select "Departmental Services." The e-forms will be available there for the scholar to complete.
  7. Once everything is submitted, ISSS will process the DS-2019 paperwork and notify the inviting department the form is available to be picked up from the International Programs Office in UCC 1111. You may also select in the iHawk system to have the paperwork delivered to you via campus mail. This form must then be sent to the invited scholar.
  8. With the DS-2019 in hand, the invited scholar should make an appointment with a U.S. embassy or consulate for a J-1 scholar interview.
  9. The inviting department should ask the invited guest to communicate with the department when they have successfully obtained a J-1 visa. Once obtained, the inviting department should share with IP staff so travel arrangements (flights) can be booked. Flights cannot be booked until after a visa is obtained.

If you have questions, please contact Michael Bortscheller at 319-335-0335.