Research Scholar

The J-1 Research Scholar Program is specifically designed to welcome visiting scholars to the United States for the purpose of engaging in research, observation, or consultation related to research projects at esteemed institutions. These institutions include corporate research facilities, museums, libraries, and accredited post-secondary academic institutions.

The program's duration offers flexibility, ranging from 3 weeks to 5 years, catering to the needs of both short-term and long-term research endeavors. By facilitating the exchange of visiting research scholars, the program fosters a dynamic environment for the exchange of ideas, research, and mutual enrichment between the United States and foreign countries. This collaboration strengthens linkages between research and educational institutions, forging lasting partnerships and advancing knowledge globally.

Overall, the J-1 Research Scholar Program serves as a bridge that promotes international cooperation, cultural understanding, and scholarly advancement in the realms of research and education.

Am I Eligible?

  • Applicants must hold a Bachelor's, Master's, or PhD degree and possess a background as a research scholar, professor, scientist, or with similar expertise, along with the ability to showcase academic credentials, relevant experience, and contributions in their specific field of research interest.

  • Applicants must not be pursuing a tenure-track position nor intending to stay in the United States beyond the duration of the five-year program.

  • The Applicant must not have been physically present in the United States under any J-category for all or part of the twelve-month period preceding the program start date mentioned on Form DS-2019.

  • Applicants are required to possess an invitation letter from a qualifying U.S. host organization within their field of interest, explicitly stating their involvement in conducting research, observing, or providing consulting services on a project.

  • Applicants are required to possess an invitation letter from a qualifying U.S. host organization within their field of interest, explicitly stating their involvement in conducting research, observing, or providing consulting services on a project.

Applying for Sponsorship

No, the American Immigration Council does not provide recruitment or placement services for exchange visitors and hosts.

Exchange visitors and host company representatives both have a role to play in the online sponsorship application. You are responsible for completing the J-1 exchange visitor file and providing the following documents with English translations, if necessary:

  • All pages of your passport. The passport must be valid for at least six (6) months after the program end date.
  • Diploma(s) or degree certificate(s)
  • Resume or CV in English, or the original plus the document translated into English
  • Intent/Invitation Letter from qualifying U.S. host organization explicitly stating their involvement in conducting research, observing, or providing consulting services on a project
  • Biographic page of J-2 dependent's passport (photo and biographical data page)

Please note that the application can be started and saved if the documents need to be gathered.

All fees are due when an application is submitted.  Total fees can vary based on the type of application service requested and the specifics of the case. An up-to-date breakdown is available on our  Fees page. Fees include the following services:

  • Screening and processing of J-1 research scholar program application
  • Shipping of Certificate of Eligibility (Form DS-2019) to accepted applicants
  • SEVIS fee payment to the U.S. government
  • Identification of Sickness & Accident Insurance meeting U.S. government requirements for J-1 visa holders
  • Participant and host user handbooks
  • Orientation and program materials
  • Consulting on the J-1 visa process
  • Program monitoring and on-going support to J-1 trainees and host organizations
  • Certificate of Completion
  • Government reporting and compliance with SEVIS requirements

The American Immigration Council conducts a video interview with each applicant prior to approving their J-1 program for sponsorship. Interviews are booked using the online scheduling tool. While host organizations or attorneys may book the interview, it is ultimately up to individual applicants to schedule the interview appointments in a timely manner.

If any changes need to be made to the Zoom appointment schedule, we will contact applicants individually. If you will not be able to attend the interview or if you need to update/change your contact information, use the "Cancel/Reschedule" link in the online scheduling tool. Email questions to [email protected].

You will be asked general questions about past visits to the U.S. (including for tourism purposes), your professional work experience and the proposed research you will be conducting while in the U.S. Next, we will discuss the process of obtaining your DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility and applying for the visa online and attending the in-person interview at a U.S. consulate. Canadian citizens do not need an in-person interview at a U.S. consulate. Finally, we will discuss our role as your cultural exchange visa sponsor and explain what you must do to remain in good standing throughout your stay in the United States.

After you receive a congratulatory email from our team confirming your SEVIS ID number. Details from that email will be required to complete the DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application and book your consulate interview. The U.S. Department of State advises against making travel arrangements until you have secured your visa.


The application process from documentation gathering to receipt of visa is approximately 8 weeks. A decision will be reached on the case within approximately five business days following the webcam interview and receipt of all program materials.

  • Week 1-3: Preparation and submission of sponsorship application documents through the J-1 Application portal.
  • Week 4: Council review of submitted documentation. The scheduled webcam interview is conducted and the follow-up process for additional information is initiated (if necessary).
  • Week 5: The Council case manager will provide a decision on sponsorship. If approved, the documents required for the U.S. embassy interview are mailed via FedEx to the exchange visitor. The exchange visitor can proceed with completing the DS-160 and scheduling their in-person embassy interview.
  • Week 6: The exchange visitor attends their scheduled U.S. embassy interview with all embassy-requested documents.
  • Week 7-8: The exchange visitor will receive their passport and visa back from the U.S. embassy (if approved). Embassy visa interview scheduling and processing times vary. Please check your nearest embassy’s estimated wait times. This is also time for the exchange visitor to begin preparing for travel to the United States and the training program start date.

Consular Processing and Return Intent

The American Immigration Council provides sponsorship to visitors applying for a J-1 visa from an embassy or consulate outside of the United States, where they will be required to indicate a clear, singular intent to leave the United States at the end of their J-1 program.

Return intent is a core eligibility requirement outlined by the Department of State and underlies the legislative framework supporting the Exchange Visitor Program. The American Immigration Council cannot knowingly provide J visa sponsorship to individuals at host organizations that intend to file for change of status after arrival in the US.

Past J-1 internships or other J-1 programs, such as summer work/travel, camp counselor, or visiting scholar will not prevent participation in an Internship, Training or Research Scholar program through the American Immigration Council, provided all other eligibility requirements are met. Trainees and Research Scholars need to reside outside the U.S. for at least two (2) years between successive J-1 exchange programs.

Not have participated in and completed a research scholar program within the last 24 months preceding the beginning date of their new program’s commencement.