University of California, Riverside

International Students and Scholars Office

Frequently Asked Questions

J-1 Questions

Q: What is the purpose of the exchange visitor program (J-1 Visa)?

A: The Exchange Visitor Program fosters global understanding through educational and cultural exchanges. All exchange visitors are expected to return to their home country

Q: What is Form DS 2019 (Certificate of Eligibility)?

A: A SEVIS generated Form DS 2019 is required when applying for the J-1 visa. The DS 2019 is a controlled form issued through SEVIS by the International Scholar Center as the State Department designated Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor.

Q: Where do I obtain the DS 2019?

A: Your department at UCR must first initiate a request to ISC to start the process for the DS 2019 Form.

Q: Where do I apply for an exchange visitor J-1 visa?

A: Once you obtain the DS 2019 from ISC you may apply for the J-1 at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in your country of residence.

Q: What documents are needed to apply for the exchange visitor J-1 visa?


  • Form DS 2019 (Certificate of Eligibility issued by ISC)
  • Valid passport
  • Completed Online form DS -160 nonimmigrant visa application and confirmation page with your application ID number
  • 2x2 photograph meeting format requirement

Q: How long does it take to obtain a J-1 Visa?

A: The wait time for an interview and processing for J-1 visa varies from country to country and is based on individual circumstances. Learn more about the interview and processing times by visiting and select visa wait times.

Q: When can I book my flight?

A: While we realize that airfare is best when you book your flight well in advance, the U.S. embassy warns against early booking.

Notice: The Consulate General cannot be held responsible for extra costs due to changing tickets or rebooking flights if delivery is delayed. We therefore strongly urge you not to purchase tickets until you have received your visa and passport in the mail.

Q: My visa has expired during the program. What do I do?

A: If your visa has expired and you do not plan to travel outside of the U.S., you do not need to renew the visa. However if you travel outside the United States while the visa is expired, you must apply for a new J-1 visa in order to re-enter the US.

Q: Can I extend or transfer my J-1 status after I receive a waiver approval of the Two Year Home Residence Requirement?

A: No, you cannot extend or transfer J-1 status after you have obtained the waiver approval from the State Department; however, time remaining on your current DS-2019 may be utilized. You will need to change your visa status to another category.

Q: What are the differences between the J-1 short-term visa and the J-1 research scholar visa?

A: J-1 visa for Short-Term Scholars - The total time allowed in the U.S. for a J-1 short-term scholar is six months--no exceptions. J-1 visas for short-term scholars cannot be extended. J-1 visa for Research Scholars - The total time allowed in the U.S. for a J-1 research scholar is five years.

Q: I am leaving the United States for the holiday, and I plan to return to UCR. Do I need to do anything with regard to my J-1 visa?

A: Yes. Before leaving the United States (this includes Canada and Mexico), you should check with International Scholars Center (ISC) to see what documents you will need to re-enter the United States , and to obtain the required travel signature on the DS 2019.

SEVIS Questions

Q: What is the “SEVIS” Fee?

A: SEVIS, stands for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. The SEVIS I-901 fee is mandated by Congress to support the program office and the automated system that keeps track of students and exchange visitors and ensures that they maintain their status while in the United States. Each student or exchange visitor issued an initial Form I-20 or DS-2019 on or after October 27, 2008, is responsible for paying this fee to SEVP. The current fee is $180 for J-1 exchange visitors.

Q: Who must pay the SEVIS?

A: If you are applying to become a new exchange visitor you must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee for your initial DS-2019.

Q: When must the SEVIS be paid?

A: New international scholars must pay a SEVIS fee and obtain a receipt prior to applying for a J-1 visa to enter the United States. Or, in the case of Canadians, the fee must be paid prior to arriving at the airport or border for admission to the United States.

Individuals applying through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services service centers for "change of status" to J-1 status must pay the SEVIS fee before the service center will approve their applications.

Q: How Do I Pay the SEVIS Fee?

A: SEVIS fee payment must completed on Form I-901.

Q: Can a department or third party pay the SEVIS fee on behalf of a Scholar?

A: Yes, a third party may pay the fee by mail or electronically. The third party submits payment, being sure to enter the correct SEVIS ID number, as listed on the scholar's Form DS-2019 (in the upper right corner of the document). The third party must be sure to list the scholar's name exactly as it appears on the Form DS-2019 and in the passport.

H1B Questions

Q: What is an H1B visa?

A: The H-1B is available for those seeking to enter the United States for the purpose of working in a "specialty occupation." According to immigration regulations this means:

"…the theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge requiring completion of a specific course of higher education."

  • The position must require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and the scholar must hold that degree or its equivalent in the field required for the position.
  • The position must be fully funded by the employing department (scholar cannot be self-supporting)
  • Must be paid either according to Union Salary or Prevailing Wage
    • If position is within a union – Union Salary Scale is used
    • If non-union position – Department of Labor Prevailing Wage Salary is used

Q: What is Labor Condition Application (LCA)?

A: Labor Condition Application - The LCA is a document submitted to the Department of Labor by UCR presenting the salary offered in the stated position, the prevailing wage, length of employment offered, and work location. UCR also makes attestations that it will provide working conditions for nonimmigrants that will not adversely affect the working conditions of workers similarly employed. It must be posted in two (2) conspicuous locations for a period of 10 consecutive business days. Proof of posting must be returned to ISC at the end of the posting period.

Q: What is a Prevailing Wage?

A: Prevailing wage - Is a Department of Labor determination of the average wage earned by employees with comparable jobs working in the area of intended employment for a specific geographic area.

Q: I am currently working at another institution on an H-1B, but have been offered an appointment with UCR; when can I start working at UCR?

A: Once ISC has filed the H-1B petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and receive the receipt notice from USCIS, you may begin your appointment with UCR.

Q: Can I change jobs after I get my H-1B?

A: An H-1B approval is employer-specific. It permits an H-1B status holder to work only for the employer that filed the petition. If you decide to change employers, the new employer must apply for the H-1B on your behalf.

General Questions

Q: What is a VISA?

A: Visa – An entry stamped inside the passport page; more like an entry ticket into the US. It has an expiration date. HOWEVER immigration status is dependent upon a valid passport, valid I-797A or B and valid I-94 Arrival/Departure card. Even if the visa expires while in the U.S., Scholars remain in legal status. The visa alone does not confer any immigration status or employment authorization.

Q: What is an I-94 card?

A: The I-94 is your proof of legal entry into the U.S. When you enter the U.S. as a non-immigrant, the Customs Border Protection (CBP) officer examines your passport and visa and then issues either a passport admission stamp. The passport admission indicates how long you are allowed to stay in the U.S. and proves you arrived in the country legally. If you have received a passport admission stamp, you will also have an electronic I-94 record. To access this record, visit: If you were issued a paper I-94 card, you will not have an electronic I-94 record.

  • The Admission Number: Every I-94 record has an eleven-digit admission number. You may need to use this number for Department of Motor Vehicles and employment purposes, but it is not a number you need to memorize. In fact, you will receive a new I-94 number each time you re-enter the U.S.
  • More Information: For more information on the new I-94 automation process and passport admission stamps, please review the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Fact Sheet.

ISC Online Questions

Department Questions

Q: I want to get the process started what do I need to do?

A: You must first have access to ISConline, once gained access, you will need to first initiate the request and invite our scholar

Q: How do I get access to ISConline?

A: The departmental System Access Administrator (SAA) establishes access to ISConline using the Enterprise Access Control System (EACS).

Q: The only option I have is to check it - out or in?

A: This means it is either checked out to you or it is in someone else queue. If it is check out that person must check it back in

Q: I cannot route it anywhere now what?

A: The invitation is not in your queue; look at the history tab to see who queue it is in.

Q: I put the FAU in but it still reads pending payment?

A: You must now route it to your department approver. Once approved, it will be routed back to ISC.

Q: I sent the scholar an invitation, but they still have not received it?

A: Some emails accounts (i.e. Gmail, yahoo, etc.) may consider the invitation to be spam email. Have your scholar check his/her spam email folder.

Q: How do I resend my scholar his/her invitation?

A: You can do this by clicking on the “Re-send Invitation” tab, find your scholar’s name and hit re-send

resend invitation

Q: My scholar cannot log in?

A: You may have to re-set his/her password. You have this option as shown below.


Q: Can you change the scholar email?

A: You have the ability to do this once the invitation is back in your queue

Scholar’s Questions

Q: I want to get the process started what documents do I need?

A: H1B applicants should start gathering the following documents

  • Current resume or curriculum vitae
  • Copy of all diplomas/degrees and/or licenses. Included certified English translations if not originally in English
  • Copy of transcripts for each diploma/degrees. Included certified English translations if not originally in English
  • Credential Evaluations. If candidate received degrees outside the United States
  • Copy of front and back of current Form I-94 (i.e., Departure Record)
  • Passport ID page (showing passport number, issue and expiration dates)
  • Visa stamp in passport
  • Only If you are currently on F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) copy of Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card and copies of ALL Forms I-20 AB
  • Only if you are currently on a J1 visa, provide the following copies of ALL Forms DS 2019; and a copy of J-1 waiver approval if subject to 2-year home residency requirement (if applicable).

If current H1-B visa holder provide the following documents in addition to the above.

  • Three (3) recent copies of pay stubs
  • Copies of all prior approval notice(s) (I-797) for all prior visas to work in the U.S.

If applying for H4 visa for dependents provide the following

  • Copy of Marriage/Birth Certificate(s) Included certified English translations if not originally in English
  • Copy of Passport(s) showing passport number, issue and expiration dates
  • Copy of I-94 card(s) Front and back
  • Copy of any previous approval notices (i.e. I-797, I-20, & DS 2019 forms)

J1 applicants should start gathering the following documents

  • Current resume or curriculum vitae
  • Copy Passport
  • Copy of visa stamp and I-94 if currently in the U.S.
  • Copy of dependents passport, if accompanying J1 applicant
  • Financial support income documentation from home institution not financially supported by UCR.

Q: I forgot my password?

A: You can re-set your password by typing in your email address, a new password will be sent to you.

Quick Links


Office Hours

Regular office hours: Monday through Thursday: 08:00 AM - 12:00 PM & 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Open advising hours:
Monday - Friday
10:00am - 12:00pm and 1:00 - 4:00pm

*Appointments are also available.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

International Students and Scholars Office
0321 Surge Building

Tel: (951) 827-4113
Fax: (951) 827-3248