EXCHANGE VISITOR GUIDANCE


Effective March 1, 2021, OIE is accepting requests for unpaid J-1 visitors with start dates of July 15, 2021 or later. Program start dates are subject to any travel and health restrictions that may be placed on visitors at the federal, local, or campus levels. Program start dates may also need to be revised as public health guidance changes.

All Georgia Tech, Faculty Hosts inviting new exchange visitors must be physically present on campus to supervise exchange experiences. New Exchange Visitors should be entering the U.S. to participate in on-campus exchange program activities, and not entering the U.S. for the purpose of remote experiences.  

Exchange Visitors visiting the U.S. at this time and host departments should be aware of the current challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and be prepared to make changes as needed. Some of the current challenges to be aware of are:

  • Covid-19 cases remain active in Georgia. Please see the Georgia Department of Public Health Covid-19 Daily Status Report for current data.
  • U.S. entry requirements remain in place. Please review the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) for additional information, available here.
  • U.S. visa interview wait times may be longer during the ongoing pandemic. Please see the U.S. Department of State’s current estimated visa interview wait times available here.
  • Travel requirements vary by country and international travelers should perform research to determine if they will be subject to any entry restrictions or quarantines in their path of travel. For U.S. travel requirements, please review the CDC guidance available here

The Social Security Administration and the Georgia Department of Driver Services have reduced availability for appointments, leading to longer than wait times for Social Security cards and Georgia driver licenses.

We encourage you to contact jscholars@oie.gatech.edu with any questions regarding the information above. 

 

Q: I’m unable to arrive in the U.S. in time to begin my program. What options are available to support me?

A: You may request to change your program start date and program end date by contacting the HR manager in your host department, who will provide the relevant information to OIE. You will be notified by email once your program start/end date(s) are updated. 

 

Q: I wish to return home and not continue my EV program.How do I notify OIE of my intent to depart?

A: Please notify your academic department HR coordinator that you wish to end your Exchange Visitor program early. Your academic department will notify OIE of the change to program dates.

 

Q: How can I request an extension of my program within the maximum duration of status?

A: Each exchange visitor category has a maximum duration of stay outlined within the federal regulations as per the chart below. Exchange Visitors with additional time remaining in the maximum duration of stay who wish to continue program objectives are eligible to request an extension. In order to request an extension, the Exchange Visitor should discuss their request to extend their program with their supervisor. The supervisor will request support from the academic department HR coordinator. The HR coordinator will enter a “J Scholar/Student Intern Extension Request” e-form request and work closely with OIE, Global HR, and the Office of General Counsel to request an extension of program end date within the maximum duration of the Exchange Visitor category. Exchange visitors will need to demonstrate proof of funding and evidence of existing health insurance meeting U.S. Department of State requirements with their request for extension.

 

Table 1: Maximum Duration of Exchange Visitor Categories

Exchange Visitor Category

Maximum Duration

Professor/Research Scholar

5 years

Short-Term Scholar

6 months

Specialist

1 year

Student Intern

1 year

 

Q: What options exist to remain beyond my program end date?

A: Exchange Visitors are eligible to remain inside the U.S. for 30 days after their program end date. This period of time is referred to as the 30-day grace period. Exchange Visitors are ineligible to continue working during the 30-day grace period, but can travel freely inside the U.S. Once you depart the U.S. in the 30-day grace period, you are ineligible to re-enter the U.S. within the 30-day grace period in J-1 status.

 

Q: I left the U.S. for a temporary period and am now unable to return to the U.S. to pursue my program objectives. What options are available to me to keep my SEVIS record in Active status?

Exchange Visitors in the Research Scholars and Professor categories currently outside the U.S. and unable to return will be provided with the option of either ending their SEVIS record or continuing their research program objectives after a review of Export Control and Global HR related issues. Exchange Visitors in the Professor and Research Scholar category can request support with extending the period of the Out-of-Country Authorization by submitting the “J Scholar Travel Signature” e-form request.  Exchange visitors interested in pursuing research abroad must receive approval for research plans in advance of beginning research with the Office of General Counsel by emailing asklegal@gatech.edu.

 

Q: I am planning to depart the U.S. and return home for a temporary period. What options are available to me to keep my SEVIS record in Active status?

Exchange Visitors interested in pursuing Out-of-Country travel authorizations during this time should request an Out-of-Country Travel Authorization utilizing the “J Scholar Travel Signature” e-form available at istart.gatech.edu. 

 

Q: I plan to return to the U.S. to pursue my program objectives after a temporary time abroad. Will I be required to self-quarantine?

A: Please follow current guidance available at health.gatech.edu/coronavirus/health-information

 

Q: How can I request support from OIE with updating my SEVIS record?

A: OIE advisers are continuing to process all benefit requests and updates submitted through the iStart portal at this time. Once your request is processed you will receive instructions on how to request shipping. Shipping options include U.S. standard postal service at OIE expense or express shipping with tracking at your expense.

 

Q: How can I meet with an OIE adviser during this time?

A: OIE is providing virtual advising services to support international students and scholars. You can organize an appointment with an OIE adviser by visiting the OIE website.

 

Q: Will I be subject to the 12 month or 24 month bar if I received a J-1 visa but was unable to enter the U.S. due to Covid-19 entry challenges?

A: The 12 and 24 month bar do not apply to individuals with less than 6 months of physical presence inside the U.S. in J-1 status. Because you were unable to enter the U.S. in J-1 status, you will not be subject to these bars. Please contact your host department to request a cancellation of your J-1 SEVIS record.

We encourage you to consult with a qualified immigration attorney if you are unable to pursue the options above and need additional support.

 

Q: Will it be possible for me to change my status within the U.S. if I am subject to 212(e)?

A: Individuals subject to 212(e) are required to receive approval for a waiver of this requirement from their home country and the U.S. government before they are eligible to apply for a change of status within the U.S. Georgia Tech is unable to provide legal counsel on the waiver application or change of status process to Exchange Visitors.