UMD: A Globally Connected University

Applying for a Scholar Visa

The Office of International Services (ISSS) helps international scholars who are interested in conducting research or teaching at the University of Maryland, College Park, through the process of applying for a J-1 visa.

What Exactly is a Visa?

A visa is a document that is placed into your passport and allows you to request permission from an Immigration officer at a port-of-entry (usually at an airport) to enter the United States. The visa itself does not guarantee admission into the U.S.; all other documents must be in order as well.

J-1 (Exchange Visitor) Visa

The J-1 visa is used for educational and cultural exchange programs at the University of Maryland.

Visa Application Steps

Once you have been invited to the University of Maryland, ISSS will work with your hosting department to process your J-1 DS-2019, the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status.   Your department will send you the J-1 DS-2019 by express mail service.  Please review the document carefully for any errors.  The next steps are as follows:

  1. Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee (J-1 $180)*
    • SEVIS Fee: http://www.fmjfee.com
    • Keep receipt or print-out of payment for proof that you paid it for your visa interview.
  2. Schedule a visa appointment/interview

Checklist for Visa Appointment

  • A completed visa application form (available at the Embassy's website)
  • Form DS-2019
  • Proof that you paid the SEVIS fee & visa application fees
  • A passport valid for at least 6 months or more into the future
  • Financial support documentation (no older than 2 months)
  • Your letter of invitation or offer
  • Proof of home country ties, including but not limited to: proof of property ownership, bank accounts, significant family in your home country, a job offer in your home country
  • For dependents applying for a J-2 visa: You should also bring your marriage certificate and birth certificate.

Steps after Receiving the Visa

If all goes according to plan, you will receive a J-1 visa stamp in your passport. Congratulations! Some U.S. Embassies actually put your DS-2019 in a sealed envelope and staple it to your passport. It is recommended that you do not open this envelope. The Immigration officer at the U.S. port-of-entry will open it and check your documents when you arrive. Check your visa for errors before you leave the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

You may not enter the U.S. on your F-1 or J-1 visa more than 30 days prior to the report date on your DS-2019.

If you received a late visa appointment and will not be able to enter the U.S. by the report date on your DS-2019, please contact your hosting department as soon as you know this information so that we may defer this date on your DS-2019.

Arrival to the United States

Upon entry into the U.S., a CBP Officer will create an electronic I-94 record of the non-immigrant arrival. The CBP Officer will also provide an admission stamp directly in the passport which will be annotated with the date of admission, class of admission and admitted until date.

Upon entry into the U.S., ISSS recommends you review your electronic I-94 record a to www.cbp.gov/i94 to ensure it is correct. We suggest you check your records each time you enter the U.S. to ensure you have been admitted in the correct immigration class. This will be especially important for those who hold multiple valid visas. 

For more information on the I-94 process you may use the ISSS website.