J-1 Scholars Overview

Overview of J-1 Exchange Visitors

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program provides international visitors cultural and educational exchange opportunities in the United States. The program, governed by the U.S. Department of State (DoS), was established as part of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (The Fulbright-Hays Act) “to increase mutual understanding between Americans and people of other countries.”

The program allows international students, scholars, professors, researchers, specialists, etc., to participate in academic (study or teaching) and research activities in the U.S. on a temporary nonimmigrant status. UMass Amherst acts as a program sponsor designated by the DoS to administer the program on its behalf.

UMass Amherst and all J-1 participants are required to comply with the Exchange Visitor Program regulations found at 22 CFR Part 62. Note that participation in cross-cultural activities is an integral part of the exchange visitors’ program in the U.S.

Detailed information about the DoS J-1 Exchange Visitor Program can be found here.

Exchange Visitor Categories

UMass Amherst sponsors four categories for scholars/employees under the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program:

  • Research Scholar:

    UMass Amherst places most international scholars whose appointments are expected to be longer than six months in this category. Research Scholars are primarily expected to conduct research but may also teach. UMass Amherst policy allows research scholars to remain at UMass Amherst for up to five years (the maximum allowed under the federal regulations) under certain circumstances.

  • Professor:

    International scholars whose duties will primarily be teaching and whose stays are expected to be longer than six months are brought to UMass Amherst in this category. Research duties are also permitted. UMass Amherst policy allows scholars in the Professor category to remain at UMass Amherst for up to five years (the maximum allowed under the regulations) under certain circumstances.

  • Short Term Scholar:

    This category is appropriate for international scholars and students whose visits will be short and will not exceed six months, or for scholars who may come and go periodically to UMass Amherst. Extensions are not possible. Repeat participation in six-month short-term scholar programs may not be permitted.

  • Specialist:

    UMass Amherst brings scholars to the U.S. in this category under special circumstances and for certain types of appointments only. The maximum limit for a J-1 program in the Specialist category is one year.


Review J-1 Requests for more information on how to start a request for a new J-1 Scholar.

  • Appropriate educational background and qualifications to meet the criteria of category sponsored by UMass Amherst
  • Sufficient proficiency in the English language
  • Financial support
  • 2023-2024 Visitor Minimums (Non-benefited/Non-salaried UMass employee) starting July 1, 2024:
    • $26,084 per year, $2,700 per year for each dependent
    • 25% funding can come from a personal bank or savings account. Non-Personal Funding must come from a recognized funding source i.e., salary from home employer, fellowship, scholarship, stipend. Visitors can be paid by the UMass hosting department.
    • Dependents can be covered with 100% fully personal funding.
    • Benefitted/Salaried UMass Amherst Employees: Must meet current UMass Amherst Employee guidelines.
  • Present intent to depart the U.S. at the conclusion of the program.
  • Upon entry to the U.S. in J-1 status will obtain Medical Coverage that meets the J-1 Exchange Visitor requirements and maintain this for the full duration stated on the DS-2019 for both the J-1 scholar and their J-2 dependents.