J Student Intern Visa
For students participating in an internship program in the United States that will fulfill the educational objectives of their current degree programs at their home institutions. Students must be enrolled and pursuing a degree in an academic institution outside the United States.
On August 9, 2018, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) instituted a revised policy directed at F, J and M visa holders who violate their visa status. According to this policy, USCIS will begin counting and tracking unlawful presence for any individual on one of these visas who does something, intentionally or unintentionally, to violate the terms and conditions of their visa status. It is now more important than ever for all nonimmigrants (individuals on U.S. visas) to maintain valid visa status at all times. Penalties of unlawful presence could result in individuals being barred from returning to the U.S. for three years, ten years, or even permanently. You can read more here.
What is unlawful presence?
You will accrue unlawful presence if you violate the terms of your visa status (see below). It is your responsibility to maintain your J status. The HIO and your host department are here to help you understand often complex immigration regulations and provide resources to keep you up to date with immigration regulations. In order to avoid accruing unlawful presence you must:
• Report a new residential address to the HIO within ten days of moving to a new address
• Maintain your health insurance as required by the Exchange Visitor Program
• Obtain authorization from the HIO for any additional employment opportunities outside your original objective at Harvard or its affiliated hospital prior to the start date of employment
• Apply for an extension of your status before your current DS-2019 expires
• Depart the U.S., transfer to another J program, or change to another visa status within the 30-day grace period at the end of your J program
• Check your I-94 record each time you enter and reenter the U.S.
• Never accept any public benefits or assistance from the federal, state or local government such as MassHealth, free school lunches, food stamps, etc.
Unlawful presence can have serious, negative effects on your U.S. immigration status and future U.S. immigration options. We do not want anything to interfere with your purpose for coming to Harvard – whether it be studying, teaching, or doing research. Please read all emails from the HIO and contact your HIO advisor if you have any questions.
To be eligible for a J-1 Student Intern visa sponsored by Harvard, individuals must meet the following criteria:
• Currently enrolled in and pursuing a degree in accredited post-secondary academic institutions outside the United States
• In good academic standing with home institution
• Participating in an internship program in the United States that will fulfill the educational objectives of their current degree programs at their home institutions
• May participate in a student internship program for up to 12 months per degree level
• Must possess English language skills sufficient to function on a day-to-day basis in the internship environment
• Must have sufficient funding to support entire stay in the U.S.
• Must return to home institution upon completion of the internship
• Must comply with the requirement of having health insurance while participating in the J program
J-1 Student Interns cannot participate in any clinical care positions or any other position that involves patient contact. Any work that would require them to provide therapy, medication, or other clinical or medical treatment is prohibited (e.g. sport or physical therapy, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, psychological counseling, social work, speech therapy, or early childhood education).
J-1 Student Interns are not Harvard students and are not eligible for some of the Harvard student benefits such as housing, health insurance, or access to athletic facilities. Student Interns must confirm with their faculty sponsors on whether they may be eligible for any benefits.
It is important that J-1 student interns maintain legal status by complying with applicable federal government regulations. By definition student interns are fulfilling requirements for an overseas degree by engaging in activities outlined on Form DS-7002. J-1 Student interns are not Harvard students and are not eligible for some of the Harvard student benefits such as housing, health insurance, or access to athletic facilities. J-1 student interns must confirm with their faculty sponsors on whether they may be eligible for any benefits.
Initial Registration Requirements
All new J-1 student interns must report to the HIO within 30 days of the start date on their Forms DS-2019.
Maintain Required Health Insurance
J-1 student interns and their J-2 dependents must maintain required health insurance (including basic Medical Health Insurance, Medical Evacuation and Repatriation insurance) throughout their stay in the United States.
Change of Residential Address
Immigration regulations require that all non-citizens report their residential addresses within 10 days of entry to the United States and subsequently report any changes of address within 10 days to the Immigration authorities. J-1 student interns may report their address changes in the Change of Address section of the HIO website.
Required Travel Documents
Please review the travel information page on the HIO Web site before making plans to travel abroad. A J-1 student intern should bring all required travel documents to the HIO to speak with an advisor if needed.
J-1 Student Interns are required by federal immigration regulations to submit evaluations to the HIO to confirm that the program objectives are met. Student Interns and their supervisors must complete and submit evaluations to the HIO in a timely manner.
• For internships less than 6 months in duration, only a Final Evaluation must be submitted prior to the end of the internship.
• For internships lasting more than 6 months, two evaluations are required: one Midpoint Evaluation and one Final Evaluation. The midpoint evaluation must be submitted midway through the U.S. internship period. The final evaluation must be submitted prior to the end of the internship.
A dependent is defined as spouse and/or unmarried children aged of 21 or younger. Most student interns do not bring dependents with them. J-1 dependents are eligible for J-2 status. The J-2 Form DS-2019 can be issued once evidence of sufficient funding for their expected living expenses and required health insurance is provided. Each J-2 dependent will have his or her own Form DS-2019 with a SEVIS number. J-2 visa holders do not have to pay the SEVIS fee. All Forms DS-2019 should be signed by the J-1 visa holder.
Each J-2 dependent may accompany or follow to join the J-1 student intern in the United States and remain here while the J-1 student intern maintains status here. All J-2 dependents are required to comply with applicable federal regulatory requirements, such as maintaining required health insurance.
To request a Form DS-2019 for accompanying dependent(s), please fill out a Dependent Data Sheet and submit it along with a Document Request Form to your HIO advisor. You may need to show additional funding for dependent expenses.
Maintaining J-2 Status
J-2 dependents may study part time or full time in the United States while the J-1 student intern maintains status in the United States.
J-2 visa holders may apply for work permission with USCIS once they arrive in the U.S. To apply for work permission, please refer to applying for employment authorization.
J-2 Travel Abroad and Reentry
For information on J-2 travel visit the J Scholar travel section of this website.
J-1 Student Interns may be employed and conduct their internship at the location(s) listed on their Forms DS-2019. Paid employment is permitted only if it is described on the Form DS-2019 issued to the J-1 Student Intern.
Student Interns can be paid by Harvard or a Harvard affiliated hospital if that is the site of activity.
Distinction Between Internship And Employment
The sole purposes of J-1 Student Internship is to promote the educational objectives of the foreign student’s current degree program. The internship must be considered “work-based learning” rather than ordinary employment or unskilled labor. The J-1 Student Internship cannot be used to fill a labor need or displace any American workers. A host department cannot use a staffing agency or service to recruit J-1 Student Interns. The internship must meet all the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Social Security Numbers
If you are a J-1 student intern at Harvard you are eligible for an SSN to engage in employment at Harvard University or one of the affiliated hospitals. You will need to present a letter from the HIO as evidence of work authorization to an official at the SSA to apply for an SSN. The HIO will provide you with the letter when you register with the HIO.
What to Take to Apply for a Social Security Number
For a J-1 student intern: take your passport, Form DS-2019, your Form I-94, and the HIO letter authorizing employment to the Social Security Administration office at 10 Fawcett Street, 1st Floor, in Cambridge.
At the Social Security Administration office, you must complete the SSN application form. You will receive notification of your SSN in the mail. The process usually takes four to eight weeks. If you have not received your SSN within this time period, please contact the HIO. For more information, check the Social Security website or call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. Once you have obtained an SSN, it is not necessary to apply for a new one if your employment changes. If you lose your SSN card and need to apply for a replacement card, you must prove once again that you are employed in the United States at the time of your application.
When to Apply
You must have been in the United States for at least ten days and must have registered with the HIO. This waiting period assures that your record will have been updated in the Government's database. In addition, you cannot apply before the effective start date of your Form DS-2019.
The following is general information regarding taxation of international student interns. To review detailed tax information (including tax return filing during tax season) please visit the tax section of this website.
International student interns should be aware that taxes may be deducted from salaries, stipends, or fellowship if funds are from U.S. sources. The available income after taxes may be less than anticipated as student interns may be subject to federal, state, and/or Social Security taxes which can range from 14-30% of one's total income. The amount of taxes student interns may pay depends on the type of income they receive and their tax status in the United States. In addition, there are many tax treaties between the United States and other countries which may exempt certain earnings from taxes. Those who receive funding from Harvard will receive information from the University Financial Services office.
All international student interns and their dependents with U.S source income are required to report their annual income by completing tax forms between January 1 and April 15 of the following year. Accompanying dependents on J-2 visas must complete at least one tax form as well.
To help guide individuals through the tax filing process, the HIO has purchased Windstar, a web based tax return preparation software designed exclusively for international students, scholars, and their dependents who are nonresidents for tax purposes. Windstar will help individuals determine if they are residents or non-residents for tax purposes. The software is available to anyone with a valid Harvard ID and PIN. Users will need their HUID and PIN to access the web site. Please note that Windstar is designed to prepare non-resident tax forms only.
Due to legal restrictions, the HIO staff is not able to answer questions regarding individual tax situations. For additional information regarding U.S. income tax issues, visit the tax section of this website.
For travel outside the U. S. the following documents are required for re-entry to the U.S.
- Valid Form DS-2019 signed in the "travel validation" section by an HIO advisor
- Valid J-1 visa stamp in the passport (except for Canadian citizens)
- Valid passport
- Valid Form DS-2019 signed in the "travel validation" section by an HIO advisor.
- Valid J-2 visa stamp in the passport (except for Canadian citizens)
- Valid passport
J-1 student interns may remain in the internship program in the United States for up to 12 months. If J-1 student interns wish to extend their internship program they must apply for an extension before their current Forms DS-2019 expire (see the dates on section #3 of the Form DS-2019). Extensions are not permitted beyond 12 months for J-1 student interns.
The request for extension must come to the HIO from the Harvard department or affiliated hospital sponsoring the student interns. To facilitate timely extensions, the HIO also issues to departments a memo months prior to the expiration of the Form DS-2019 asking if an extension will be requested. Departments respond to the HIO request by completing the extension form and return it to the HIO, or contact the HIO advisor directly to request an extension. An additional J-1 Student Intern Intake Form will also need to be completed.
Transfers and Leaving Harvard
J-1 student interns may request a J-1 program transfer to another institution as long as they continue in the Student Intern category and they do not exceed the 12 month limit of time.
J-1 student interns who have completed their programs at Harvard are given an additional 30-day grace period for departing the United States, applying to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change from J-1 status to another status (if they are not subject to the two-year home country residence requirement), or transferring to another J program sponsor if their J-1 category allows them more time to stay in the United States.
At the end of the internship period, J-1 Student Interns are required by federal immigration regulations to submit Final Evaluations to the HIO to confirm that the program objectives are met. Evaluations must be completed by the J-1 student Intern and their supervisor and submitted to the HIO prior to the end of the internship via email with subject line: J‐1 Evaluation.
Updating Contact Information
Scholars who are leaving Harvard need to make sure that their affiliated Harvard departments or hospitals have been informed of their departure. They should also update their contact information with the appropriate payroll office so their Forms W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement) will be mailed to their new addresses.
Two-Year Home Residence Requirement and Waivers
Two-Year Home Residence Requirement - 212(e)
In some cases, the J-1 visa carries with it a two-year home residence requirement which obliges visa holders and their J-2 dependents to return to their home countries for two years before being eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or a non-immigrant H or L visa. The requirement also makes J-1 visa holders and their J-2 dependents ineligible to change to any other visa status within the United States if they are subject to it.
Not all J-1 visa holders are subject to this requirement. The requirement applies to those individuals in one of the following situations:
- J-1 visa holders who are funded by the United States Government, their own governments, or international organizations during part or all of their stay in the United States are subject to the requirement.
- J-1 visa holders whose skills are needed in their home countries, as registered on the Exchange Visitor Skills List, are subject to the requirement.
- J-1 visa holders who are graduates of foreign medical schools participating in internships, residencies, or clinical training programs in the United States sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) are subject to the requirement.
Are you subject to 212(e)?
J-1 visa holders should check both their Forms DS-2019 and J-1 visas to see if they are subject to the two year home residence requirement, 212(e). Harvard sponsored J-1 s should contact the HIO with questions regarding whether or not they are subject to the requirement.
Advisory Opinion from the U.S. Department of State
In the case that there is a doubt in whether or not a J-1 visa holder is subject to the requirement, the individual may request an Advisory Opinion from the U.S. Department of State.
J-1 visa holders who are subject to the requirement based on the information noted above and who do not wish to fulfill the requirement by returning to their home countries for two years may apply for a Waiver of the two-year home residence requirement. Please note: Before requesting an Advisory Opinion or applying for a Waiver, J-1 visa holders are encouraged to contact their HIO advisors. Failure to inform an HIO advisor regarding this matter could jeopardize the visa holder's ability to secure an extension of the Form DS-2019, or the option to change into another non-immigrant status.
12-24 Month Bar
The 12-Month Bar
Individuals who have been in the United States for more than six months in the previous year (12 months) in J visa status are not eligible to enter the United States as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor for a 12-month period. Time spent in the J-1 Short-term Scholar category does not count towards the 12-month bar. The 12-month bar applies to both the J-1 principal and any J-2 dependents. The 12-month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the United States in any other visa status.
The 24-Month Bar
Any individual who participates in an Exchange Visitor program in the Researcher Scholar or Professor category on or after 11/18/06 is subject to a 24-month bar on "repeat participation" in those categories. Scholars subject to the 24-month bar may not return to the United States as a J-1 scholar in the Research Scholar or Professor category for the 24-month period. This bar also applies to J-2 dependents. The 24-month bar is not the same as the Two Year Home Residence Requirement. The 24-month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the United States in any other visa status.
Impact of the 24-Month Bar
When a scholar either concludes or leaves a J-1 program, whichever happens earlier, the scholar's record becomes inactive in SEVIS; thus making it impossible for the HIO to reactivate it. At that point, the 24-month bar time starts to accrue. Therefore, it is extremely important for the HIO to be informed of a scholar's departure from Harvard and his/her future plans, so that the scholar's SEVIS record can be properly maintained to facilitate his/her possible return to the United States.
Frequently Asked Questions about the 24-Month Bar for Research Scholars and Professors
Q: Can I change jobs and have a new J-1 Professor/ Research Scholar visa with a new employer within the 5 year limit?
A: Yes. If a J-1 professor/ research scholar leaves one employer and moves to a new job with another University (that also sponsors J-1 visas) s/he can transfer to the J-1 program of the new employer. These scholars may keep extending and changing employers via the J-1 transfer process for up to 5 years.
NOTE: There cannot be a gap of time between employers. Scholars need to communicate to both employers their intent to remain in the United States on a J visa.
Q: What if I need to leave the United States for a meeting or conference -- will I have to wait 24 months before I can return?
A: No. As long as the J-1 professor/ research scholar continues with the original Harvard affiliation, short stays outside the United States are permitted, and do not constitute a completion of the J program.
Q: I have a J-1 Professor/ Research Scholar visa that is only valid for one year. I may stay longer if the grant is renewed for one more year. Will I have to go home for 24 months or can I extend my J visa for a second year?
A: J-1 professor/ research scholars may extend their stay for up to 5 years as long as there is no gap of time and the HIO receives the requests of extension before the expiration of their current Forms DS-2019.
Q: Are the two year home residence requirement and the 24-month bar the same thing?
A: No. As mentioned in #2 above, the 24-month bar affects only scholars who have had the J-1 visa status in the Professor/ Research Scholar category, and who wish to use the same category again. The two year home residence requirement can be an issue for any J visa holder - not just those who have been in the J-1 Professor/ Research Scholar category.
Q: During my 24 months outside the United States, may I return to the United States for short visits?
A: Yes. You may return to the United States on any kind of visa, including the J-1 Short-term Scholar visa category. You are only prevented from returning on the J-1 visa in the Research Scholar/Professor category.