Sponsoring J Scholars, Professors, and Student Interns

The Office of International Programs is a resource for bringing all J-1 International scholars, professors, and student interns to The University of Texas at El Paso.  We assist J-1 visa holders with understanding the immigration rules necessary for maintaining legal non-immigrant status, entering and leaving the US, identifying campus resources, and adjusting to life in El Paso and in the US.

Please contact the Office of International Programs and Human Resource Services for advice before extending an offer. Any non‑immigrant candidates (for Post‑Doctoral Research, Research Scholar, and Professor) will not be authorized to receive a stipend or be placed on the payroll until appropriate documents have been submitted to and approved by DHS and/or the American Consulate or Embassy. If the exchange visitor is already employed in the U.S. on a J‑1 visa, special restrictions may apply. It is important to involve the Office of International Programs at each step of the selection and hiring process to avoid legal complications for the individual and for the university.

Immigration regulations mandate that U.S. universities and colleges that sponsor J-1 Exchange Visitors must report information via SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). SEVIS is a U.S. Government web-based database that makes information available to immigration and other governmental agencies including U.S. consulates and embassies. The Office of International Programs (OIP) is required to report personal and program information regarding the J-1 Exchange Visitors at The University of Texas at El Paso via SEVIS. This is a very short reporting window and OIP must report to SEVIS the exchange visitor’s arrival at UTEP within 30 days of the program start date listed on the DS-2019 form and report the exchange visitor’s U.S. address.

Below you will find the J-1 Exchange Visitor Application and the Student Intern Application, please read the directions carefully as part of the application needs to be completed by the UTEP host department and the other part by the exchange visitor.
If you are a department interested in learning more about other immigration options, such as an H-1B or lawful permanent residency, we will direct you to the appropriate department or representative on campus. Our office is exclusively limited to processing J-1 visas for visiting students, scholars, and professors.

Important immigration information

English proficiency

The U.S. Department of State regulations for J-1 Exchange Visitors [22 CFR 62.11(a)(2)] require that program sponsors verify that a prospective J-1 Exchange Visitor’s English proficiency is sufficient to participate in his or her program and to function on a day-to-day-basis as determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency.

For exchange visitors coming from countries where the primary language is not English, the Office of International Programs accepts any of the following to meet this requirement:

  • Any of the following exam scores (Test must have been taken within the last 2 years)
    • IELTS: 6.5  minimum score
    • TOEFL:
      • Paper-based (only accept exam taken at UTEP): minimum score of 500
      • Computer-based: minimum score of 173
      • Internet exam (TOEFL IBT): minimum score of 61
  • PTE (Pearson Test of English): minimum score of 44
  • Transcripts showing a degree earned in a U.S. college or university. May not be a bilingual program and degree must have been obtained within the last 5 years
  • Interview in English conducted and documented by the UTEP sponsoring professor
  • Online Pearson Versant English Test.
    • Average cost $35. Requires microphone, internet connection. (Test must have been taken within the last 2 years). Global Scale of English (GSE) score minimum of 59 or a level of B-2 or higher. (If you decide to take this test, please see section below for instructions).

Versant Test

Versant is an online language test prepared by Pearson Education. If you have chosen this test to meet the English Proficiency Requirements needed to apply for a J visa at The University of Texas at El Paso, please visit make sure to read the instructions sheet before you make your selection. For more information on the test, you may visit the Versant Test website. Once you have completed the test, please make sure to submit to the UTEP hosting department a copy of your test results. This will be attached to the J-1 Exchange Visitor Application or J-1 Intern Application which in turn will be submitted to the Office of International Programs.

For technical difficulties and questions about the test, please contact Pearson Education at: 1-800-328-5999 

Health Insurance
All exchange visitors and their dependents must have health insurance for the entire length of their program. Health insurance coverage is governed by federal law. For more information, please visit our Health Insurance page

Categories of J-1 Visa at UTEP

Research Scholar
J-1 research scholars primarily conduct research, observe, or consult in connection with a research project. The scholar may also teach or lecture.

  • Length of stay: 3 weeks to 5 years in duration.
  • Extensions are granted up to the 5 year maximum.
  • Subject to a 24-month bar on return visits as a J research scholar at the end of the program.
  • May be able to return to the U.S. in a different J category (such as Short-Term Scholar) or in other types of nonimmigrant status such as F-1 student or B-1/B-2 visitor during the 24-month bar period.
  • May be subject to 212(e)

Short-Term Scholar
J-1 short term scholars can be professors, research scholars, specialists, or persons with similar education or accomplishments coming to the U.S. on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills.

  • Length of stay: less than 6 months in length
  • Cannot be extended beyond 6 months
  • NOT subject to the 24-month bar on return visits as a J-1 research scholar
  • May be subject to 212 (e)

J-1 professors primarily teach, lecture, observe, or consult. The professor may also conduct research. If the Exchange Visitor will be here primarily to conduct research the Research Scholar category above is more appropriate, even if the individual is a professor in his or her home country.

  • Length of stay: 3 weeks to 5 years in duration
  • Allows for extensions up to the 5 year maximum.
  • Is subject to a 24-month bar on return visits as a J research scholar and professor at the end of the program.
  • May return to the U.S. in J-1 Short-Term Scholar or in any other visa category such as F-1 student or B-1/B-2 visitor during the 24-month bar period.

Student Intern
J-1 student interns are studying at a post-secondary institution outside the US. These students can participate in an internship/research experience at UTEP that will “fulfill the educational objectives for his or her current degree program at his or her home institution.”  The student intern process is unrelated to admission to UTEP.

  • Length of stay: may participate in a student internship program for up to 12 months for each foreign degree/major.
  • Work (at least 32 hours per week)
  • Work must consist of no more than 20% clerical work
  • Have verifiable English language skills sufficient to function on a day-to-day basis in the internship environment.
  • Be in good academic standing at his or her home institution outside the United States.
  • The student must return to his or her academic program outside the U.S. and fulfill and obtain a degree after completion of the student intern program
  • May be subject to 212(e)

Each department sponsoring the exchange visitor is responsible for the following:

  • Provide a MINIMUM of three months lead time in preparing paperwork for new visiting J-1 exchange visitors. Departments should be aware that delays in visa processing and security checks can mean that some visitors may need up to 6 months to secure a J-1 visa and arrive at UTEP. Once the completed J-1 Exchange Visitor application and all of the supporting documents have been submitted to OIP, we can issue the DS-2019 in 5 business days. Please note that in some cases the DS-2019 issuance may be longer due to Export Control. Please also make sure that the application is complete before submitting it to OIP. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
  • Inform OIP immediately if the exchange visitor changes plans, decides to arrive earlier or later than stated on the DS-2019 form, or cancels their proposed appointment at UTEP
  • Upon arrival to UTEP, ensure that the exchange visitor makes an appointment with an OIP advisor for a check-in/orientation (within the first couple of days of arrival). The host department can also schedule this appointment beforehand for the exchange visitor
  • Provide support to the exchange visitor during their program at UTEP
  • Communicate immediately with OIP regarding information about the exchange visitor’s appointment at UTEP which includes the following SEVIS reportable events: the arrival, departure and/or termination, changes in the exchange visitor’s U.S. address and any program change in the UTEP appointment.
  • Inform OIP at least one month before the expiration date on a current exchange visitor’s DS-2019 form about any extension requests
  • Inform OIP immediately prior to early termination of the exchange visitor program in any department (if leaving more than 2 weeks prior to end date).
  • Inform OIP about any prospective paid and/or non-UTEP paid engagements that the exchange visitor wishes to participate in (so that OIP can authorize such employment in advance if they meet the immigration requirements)


UTEP departments who would like to host a J-1 Scholar or Professor may download (PDF) the application and instructions here:

J-1 Exchange Visitor Application 2014-2015.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Application 2015-2016

UTEP departments who would like to host a J-1 Student Intern may can download the application and instructions here: J-1 Student Intern Application.

In addition, departments will need to complete the forms listed at http://hrtc.at.utep.edu/?page_id=223 in order for a staff ID#, UTEP e-mail address and Miner Gold Card to be issued for the exchange visitor.


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