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 restrictions remain in place for several countries. Please review the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) U.S. entry restrictions for additional information, available here.
- U.S. visa interview wait times may be significantly delayed. 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 email@example.com with any questions regarding the information above. Please review the OIE Covid-19 Exchange Visitor FAQ for more information on Covid-19 and the Exchange Visitor Program.
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 e-mail once your program start/end date(s) are updated.
Q: As an Exchange Visitor am I able to move to a remote environment in pursuit of my program objective?
A: All exchange visitors in Active status remaining inside the U.S. will be given the option to pursue program objectives remotely inside the U.S. Exchange Visitors should work with their host supervisors to ensure support for remote work accommodations. Any changes to the research activity such as topic, supervision, and international travel should be reviewed to ensure compliance with US laws and regulations. Please report any changes to OIE and please send a request for an export review to the Office of General Counsel, Counsel - Export and Trade, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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 extending the period of their personal leave on Out-of-Country Travel Authorization 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 email@example.com.
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. Temporary exceptions to the 30 day limit on personal travel will be considered during this time to help support Exchange Visitors interested in returning home during the pandemic. Continuing research program objectives while abroad will require approval from Export Control. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request approval of out-of-country research.
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 https://health.gatech.edu/coronavirus/health-information
Q: What other responsibilities do I have to maintain status during this temporary move to a remote environment?
A: Exchange visitors must continue to maintain all Exchange Visitor requirements listed here.
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: My J-1 program end date is approaching and my funding support is ending. Neither I nor my PI have the funds to continue to support an extension and I’m unable to return home due to the current situation. What are my options?
A: In order to be eligible for an extension of the J-1 program end date, Exchange visitors must demonstrate all of the following evidence:
- Continued pursuit of original program objectives
- Adequate financial support for the duration of the extension
- Proof of insurance coverage meeting U.S. Department of State requirements for the J-1 primary visa holder and any J-2 visa holders
If you are unable to satisfy these conditions you will be ineligible for an extension. Options that exist include the following:
- Transfer to another institution to continue program objectives with funding from that institution prior to the J-1 program end date
- Departure prior to the 30 day grace period after the J-1 program end date
- Change of status within the U.S.
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.