In order to participate in ISEP, you must obtain a J-1 Exchange Visitor
Visa. Please note that all ISEP participants who attend U.S. host institutions
are sponsored under ISEP's J-1 exchange visitor program. ISEP participants
are not sponsored by their host institution for visa purposes.
All visas are not alike!
You should only enter the United States as a J-1 exchange-visitor using the DS-2019 issued by ISEP.
Do not enter as a tourist (with a B-2 visa or no visa), as an F-1 student,
or as a J-1 exchange visitor under another program, such as a camp counselor or SWAT
program. If you enter the United States on a visa other than ISEP’s
J-1/DS-2019, you must leave the United States and re-enter on ISEP's
J-1 visa/DS-2019. If you have difficulty obtaining your visa, contact
ISEP before you depart your home country for the United States.
In order to avoid the confusion that often surrounds discussion of visa
and immigration matters, it is important to define three key terms:
visa document, visa permit and visa status.
The visa document is the document issued by the sponsoring program or institution that an alien presents along with a valid passport to request a visa stamp. Your visa document is the two-page "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status" you received from your home coordinator prior to departure for the United States. It is commonly known as a DS-2019 form. Once you cross the border into the United States, immigration will review these forms and return them to you.
A visa permit is the stamp, printed to a page of the passport, that specifies the terms under which a non-U.S. citizen may enter the United States. A visa permit must be obtained from the U.S. embassy or consulate before leaving one's home country. Please note that this permit is for entry only. Once you are in the United States you are allowed to stay until the end date of your program as listed on your DS-2019 plus a 30-day grace period.
Visa status is the term denoting classification or type of permission to visit the United States, which is assigned by a U.S. immigration officer to a non-U.S. citizen upon entry into the United States. Each type of status carries with it certain conditions that the visitor must follow in order to remain in the country legally. Examples of types of status are "tourist," "F-1 student" and "J-1 exchange-visitor." ISEP participants enter as exchange visitor students (J-1).
The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs
administers the J-Exchange Visitor Program. This group implements the
Mutual Educational and Cultural Act of 1961, as amended. The Act promotes
mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other
countries by means of educational and cultural exchange. The Exchange
Visitor Program provides foreign nationals with opportunities to participate
in exchange programs in the United States and then return home to share
The State Department designates sponsors to administer individual exchange visitor programs. ISEP is officially designated as an exchange visitor sponsor by the State Department. This means that ISEP is authorized to issue the "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status," known as a "DS-2019."