J-1 Visiting Scholar Application

This section provides information on Penn’s J-1 Visiting Scholar Application.

    Funding for J-1 Visiting Scholars (except Postdoctoral Researchers)

    • For the 2017-2018 academic year, a minimum of $28,810 per year ($2,400/month) will be required to support a J-1 Scholar at Penn.  

    • For the 2018-2019 academic year, a minimum of $27,180 per year ($2,265/month) will be required to support a J-1 Scholar at Penn.  

    • An additional $6,000/year ($500/month)  is required for an accompanying spouse and an additional $4,000/year ($334/month) for each accompanying child.

    Funding for Postdoctoral Researchers

    • Postdoctoral Researches must be paid according to the most recent the current National Research Service Awards stipend levels, which may be found here.

    • Immigration regulations require proof of sufficient supporting funds before an immigration document can be issued.   Funds may come directly from Penn, an outside organization, or from the individual’s own personal resources.

    • All documentation of funding must have been issued within the past 12 months.

    • Documents not written in English must be translated.

    All J-1 scholars at Penn are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a field directly related to their program objective and have demonstrated relevant experience in their field of expertise.

    In general, all J-1 scholars will conduct their activities at Penn. In rare situations, the J-1 activity might occur at a non-Penn site under the full, day-to-day supervision of a regular full-time Penn faculty member. In such cases, attach a letter from the Chair of the hosting department that includes the following:

    • Dates of visit

    • Nature of activities

    • Site(s) of activity, including full address

    • How the J-1 activity will be a continuation of the Penn department’s on-going research projects/programs (note: while at a non-Penn site, the J-1 must only conduct Penn's research)

    • Official relationship between the Penn department and the non-Penn site of activity

    • Name and title of full-time Penn faculty or PI who will supervise the J-1 program activity throughout the J-1 Scholar’s stay in the US

    • Funding arrangements at the non-Penn site (e.g. additional funding, new funding source, etc.)

    Penn departments that sponsor foreign medical graduates (FMG) in non-clinical exchange programs, either with no patient care or where patient contact is incidental to the physician's primary activity of teaching, research, consultation, or observation, must include a letter in the J-1 Request Packet. This letter should be signed by the dean of the sponsoring School or the department chair, should be presented by the scholar along with the DS-2019 at the US consulate when applying for a Visa.


    No Patient Care

    If no patient care is involved in the J-1 scholar’s duties, the letter must state, verbatim:

    "This certifies that the program in which [name of the J-1 scholar] is to be engaged is solely for the purpose of observation, consultation, teaching, or research and that no element of patient care services is involved."

    Incidental Patient Contact

    If incidental patient care is involved in the J-1 scholar’s duties, the letter must state, verbatim:

    • The program in which [name] will participate is predominately involved with observation, consultation, teaching, or research.

    • Any incidental patient contact involving [name] will be under the direct supervision of a physician who is a US citizen or resident alien and who is licensed to practice medicine in Pennsylvania.

    • [Name] will not be given final responsibility for the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

    • Any activities of [name] will conform fully with licensing requirements and regulations for medical and health care professionals in Pennsylvania.

    • Any experience gained in this program will not be creditable toward any clinical requirements for medical specialty board certification.


    FMGs who wish to participate in clinical programs of graduate medical education or training cannot be sponsored by the Penn’s Exchange visitor program. The only exchange program authorized to sponsor FMGs as J-1 exchange visitors for internships, residencies, specialized clinical training, and in other positions involving more than incidental patient contact, is the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

    Internal Processing Fee

    • The Penn Internal Processing Fee is $165.

    • Penn Departments must pay the Penn Internal Processing Fee using the 26-digit budget code. UPHS units may either provide a 6-digit cost center code or a check payable to the “Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.

    • NOTE: The Penn Internal Processing Fee will not be refunded once the internal processing begins at ISSS even if the department/scholar decides to withdraw the request.

    SEVIS Fees

    • A visiting scholar must have proof of SEVIS fee payment prior to visiting a US consulate to apply for their visa. 

    • Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need visas to enter the US, but they must present proof of payment of the SEVIS fee when they enter the US in J-1 status.

    • Scholars who are already in the US and will apply for a change of status to J-1 must pay the SEVIS fee before submitting their change of status application to USCIS.

    • A scholar or academic department may use a credit card to pay the SEVIS fee online and print out a confirmation that can be used as proof of payment.

    • To pay the SEVIS fee online go to the SEVIS Fee website.  For “Program Number” enter the Penn # P-1-00183. To pay by mail, please see the SEVIS fee website for instructions.

    The hosting department must consider the following responsibilities and criteria of the J-1 before appointing a scholar in J-1 status:

    • The hosting department should submit the request to ISSS 3-4 months in advance, but no later than 6 weeks in advance.

    • Departments must ascertain that the international scholar has appropriate academic credentials (including English language proficiency) to be appointed to and benefit from his/her J-1 stay at the University.

    • The scholar and any accompanying dependents must have adequate financial support and health insurance coverage to be eligible for J-1 status.

    • The intent of the appointment/affiliation with the University must be temporary, and the visitor must plan to return home upon completion of the educational objective.

    • The exchange visitor must be in valid J-1 status and on Penn's sponsorship before he or she can commence appointment and receive any payment or compensation.

    • An exchange visitor may not change departments within the University without first obtaining approval from ISSS.

    • Reinstatement to legal status will rarely, if ever, be granted in the US to scholars who lose their status. The scholar must return home with no guarantee of being issued a visa to return.

    • J-1 scholars must always be in possession of a valid I-94 or US entry/admission stamp in passport Refer to the automated I-94 process AND a current DS-2019 which accurately reflects their purpose for being at Penn.

    • Departments should immediately notify ISSS of terminations or departures of exchange visitors.

    Request access to iPenn:  iPenn access can only be granted to full time staff, and only with authorization from your department chair/head.  In order to obtain iPenn access, please log into KnowledgeLink and search for "iPenn eform training"


    What's Next?

    Now that you have reviewed the Application procedures you can proceed to Maintaining J-1 Status.