to Obtain J-1 Scholar Immigration Status at
The information to follow is provided to help you get to Columbia in appropriate immigration status in compliance with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USCIS) regulations.
Please note that there are two major offices that handle the immigration documents for students at Columbia University. All students studying at the Morningside campus are served by the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO). Some students at the Columbia University Medical Center are served by the ISSO and some by the International Affairs Office (IAO). You will be informed of which office will manage your paperwork after you have been admitted to the University.
If You are Outside the United States.
Canadian Citizens Canadian citizens do not require an entry visa to enter the U.S. from Canada, but do require a DS-2019 and must follow certain procedures.
Step 1: Make an appointment
at a U.S. Consulate to apply for an J-1 Exchange Visitor visa. You will require the DS-2019
form from Columbia University at the time of your appointment. DO NOT
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT UNTIL you have received the DS-2019 or are sure that
you will have received the DS-2019 in time for the appointment. Check
the following websites for more information on visa appointments.
Locate the nearest U.S. Consulate and follow the instructions for applying for a visa (including links to required forms). Make a list of documentation required for the interview. Note procedures for paying the visa application fee and any visa issuance fees, if applicable.
Step 5: Complete the required Department of State application form DS-160. Be sure to print and keep the DS-160 barcode page.
Step 9: Checklist of what
to take with you to your visa interview: Have both the originals and
a set of photocopies. In addition to the items listed here, you may be
required to submit additional documents as listed on your local consulate's
____ Form DS-2019
____ School letter confirming your affiliation with Columbia University. For those with a University appointment, it is a letter from the academic department confirming the dates, title and salary of the appointment. For Visting Scholars/Scientists it is a letter of designation from the ISSO.
____ Completed visa applications (DS-156, DS-158, and, if applicable, DS-157) Remember to complete the DS-156 electronically and take a printed copy with you. Consulates have advised that the electronic version will speed up the process.
____ A photograph in the prescribed format (see Step 7)
____ A receipt for the visa application fee
____ A receipt for the SEVIS fee. If you have not received an official receipt in the mail showing payment and you paid the fee electronically, the consulate will accept the temporary receipt you printed from your computer. If you do not have a receipt, the consulate may be able to see your payment electronically if your fee payment was processed at least 3 business days before your interview.
____ Financial evidence that shows you have sufficient funds to cover your living expenses during the period you intend to stay.
____ Any information that demonstrates your intention to return to your home country after finishing your program in the U.S. This may include proof of property, family, or other ties to your community.
Some Canadians have mistakenly
assumed that regulations that apply to international students do not apply
to them. Scholars from Canada are subject to the same regulations regarding
employment in the United States and all other provisions for maintaining
status. It is especially important for Canadian scholars to be vigilant
about entering the United States in proper status, as immigration inspectors
are accustomed to admitting Canadian citizens as visitors.
in the United States • If you do not plan to leave the United States
before beginning your work or research at Columbia and you are currently
in an immigration status other than J-1, you will be required to change
your status by application to the USCIS. Changing your status in the
Continuing • If you are in J-1 Researcher or Professor category and continuing your
work or research at the University, the United States Department of State
(DOS) Exchange Visitor Program must be informed. In order to extend your
J-1 employment authorization and legal stay in the
Scholars • As a J-1 Exchange Visitor in Researcher or Professor category
you are allowed to stay in the United States for a maximum of five consecutive
this period you may transfer from one program sponsor to another within
the same category of Researcher or Professor. The “responsible officer”
of the program from which you are transferring needs to assign a transfer
date in the SEVIS database before
If You Will Be Accompanied by Dependents • If your dependents (spouse or unmarried children under twenty-one years of age) will accompany you to the United States or will be joining you shortly after your arrival, you will need to provide the ISSO or the IAO with additional documentation showing your ability to meet your dependents’ expenses. Upon receipt of the required information we will send you the document needed by your dependents to apply for a visa.
Last Reviewed:13 February 2013 Last modified:13 February 2013