University of Wisconsin–Madison


What is a J-1 scholar?

The J-1 is a non-immigrant status that allows academic institutions to bring international scholars and students to the US to participate in research, teaching and study in support of the objectives of public diplomacy and mutual educational and cultural exchange.

UW–Madison is approved by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to serve as a J-1 sponsor for international scholars and students to participate in research, teaching and degree programs at UW–Madison. International Student Services (ISS) at UW–Madison handles any student related J-1 programs. International Faculty & Staff Services (IFSS) handles all scholar and non-student related J-1 programs.

The J-1 scholar categories most prevalent at UW–Madison are Research Scholar, Professor, Short-term Scholar, Specialist, and Student.

How long can I hold J-1 status?

Generally, at UW–Madison, you can hold J-1 status for one (1) day up to a maximum of five (5) years. A short-term scholar, however, can only hold J-1 status for 6 months or less.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for J-1 scholar status, you:

  • Must hold a completed undergraduate degree
  • Must have enough money for all living expenses, including additional financial support for any accompanying family members either from UW–Madison or any other sources.
  • Must maintain health insurance for sicknesses or accidents when you are in J-1 status. Failure to maintain health insurance coverage will jeopardize your J-1 status. You must have University health insurance, purchase Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP) insurance or have insurance that has been pre-approved by the University.
  • Must be invited or hosted by a UW–Madison faculty or staff member
  • Must collaborate with a UW faculty or staff member
  • Work must benefit the UW
  • Work must be performed on campus
  • Must be in a terminal teaching or research position (not tenure track or annually renewable)

Who is not eligible?

The J-1 is not appropriate for:

  • Tenure track positions or permanent annually renewable appointments
  • Anyone who intends to provide clinical care or work
  • Independent work
  • Performing work for a faculty member’s start up company other similar entity

UW–Madison cannot sponsor employees of affiliated entities. Exceptions are made when the individual is an employee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) working in a UW–Madison faculty HHMI Investigator’s laboratory.


Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of J-1 visa holders are considered dependents and are eligible for J-2 status.

J-2 dependents are permitted to apply for work permission in the U.S.

J-2 dependents may study in the United States, full-time or part-time.

Grace period

J-1s may enter the U.S. up to 30-days before the start date of their J-1 program and may remain in the U.S. for up to 30-days after their J-1 program, if the I-94, arrival departure record given to them by Customs and Border Protection when they enter the US   is marked  D/S for duration of status.

J-1s cannot work or “volunteer” to work during the grace period.

How do I request J-1 status?

The sponsoring UW Department initiates the request to sponsor a J-1 exchange visitor, once it is determined whether or not the position is eligible for sponsorship and that the foreign national meets all eligibility requirements for the position and status.