The University of Iowa sponsors 400-500 exchange visitor scholars annually, who come to The University for research, teaching, observation, and other professional activities. International Student and Scholar Services ;(ISSS) provides immigration advising and orientation to visiting scholars. The following information will assist you before you arrive in Iowa City.

Your DS-2019

This is your immigration document, which you will use to obtain your J-1 visa and also to enter the U.S. Be sure to check the accuracy of the following information listed on your form:

  • name (it must match the name listed in your passport)
  • date of birth
  • country of birth and citizenship
  • legal permanent residence
  • academic level and program area
  • source of financial support

If any information is incorrect, contact International Student and Scholar Services for a new form. Validate your form (sign it) before you apply for your visa.


If you have indicated that you have a spouse or children under age 21 who will accompany you to the United States, you will get a DS-2019 form for each dependent so they can obtain a J-2 visa. No other dependents qualify for J-2 status. If you have an unmarried partner, adult children, parents, or other family members who will come to the United States with you, they must receive B-2 (visitor) visas for that purpose.

If you did not include information on your dependents when you applied to The University (and therefore did not receive dependent visa documents), contact ISSS about how to add them to your immigration document.

Obtaining a J-1 Visa.

With the exception of citizens of Canada and Bermuda, all other potential exchange visitors must obtain a J-1 visa through a U.S. consulate. As specific requirements and procedures do vary from consulate to consulate, you should inquire for any special needs at the location where you will be applying for a visa.

A listing of all U.S. consulates, along with links to their web pages, is available at the Department of State website. You must have a J‑1 visa to enter the United States for your J-1 activity. If you have another U.S. visa (such as for a visitor) you cannot use that to come in as a J-1, and should you attempt to do so, you may be refused entry at the border or be unable to undertake the activities which you plan to do as a J-1.


Generally, you will need to make an appointment to apply for your J-1 visa, and the embassy web site can give you information on how to make the appointment. You will also need to pay a visa application fee (information will be available on the embassy website) and a SEVIS fee before your visa application can be submitted. Be sure to pay these fees in time to receive the appropriate receipts because if you do not have proof that you have paid both the visa application and SEVIS fees, you will not be able to apply for the visa. If you have dependents that will be applying for J-2 visas, you will need to pay a visa application fee for each, but not an additional SEVIS fee.

At the consulate

When you go to the consulate to apply for the J-1 visa, be sure to have a valid passport, the original DS-2019 form, receipts that show you have paid the appropriate fees, and proof of all funding that will be used to cover your stay in the United States. If you have dependents applying for J-2 status, you will also need to provide proof of their relationship to you (for example, a marriage license or birth certificate).

Visas and the University of Iowa

Please be aware that the University of Iowa cannot guarantee visa issuance, and cannot influence a consulate if a visa is denied. Should you be denied a visa, you should ask for a written explanation of why you were denied, and then International Student and Scholar Services can advise you on how you might overcome the reason for denial. However, the final decision on visa issuance is made at the consulate, and the University cannot appeal the decision.

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need to apply for visas, but must pay the SEVIS fee and have a receipt for that fee prior to applying for entry into the United States as a J-1 exchange visitor.