Maintaining Legal Status

General Guidelines

As a J-1 Exchange Visitor at Cedars-Sinai, you have been admitted for a specific period of time to engage in a particular research activity, as described on your DS-2019 form. You must take care during your stay to maintain lawful J-1 status, as failure to do so can have serious long-term consequences for you. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure that your stay in the U.S. remains valid:

  • Be aware of the expiration date of your status. This is not your visa stamp expiration date; it is the ending date in section 3 of your DS-2019 form. If your appointment at CSMC is extended, the hiring department must contact the Visa & International Services Administration (VISA) office at least 30 days before the current expiration date to have the DS-2019 form extended as well.

  • Do not accept unauthorized employment. The only activity you are permitted is the one described in section 4 of the DS-2019 form. You must consult an Immigration Partner in the VISA office  in advance if you wish to take up any other work during your stay

  • If offered a comparable position at another institution or university, discuss your plans with an Immigration Partner in the VISA office to make sure that the required transfer procedure can be accomplished.

  • J-1 visitors are allowed a 30-day grace period beyond the end date on their DS-2019. This additional 30-day period is NOT for employment, extensions, or transfers. If you travel outside the U.S. during your 30-day grace period, you forfeit the remaining grace period and may not re-enter the U.S. under J-1 status.

Health insurance requirement

All J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents are required by federal regulations to have medical insurance for the entire period of their stay in the U.S. You may select the medical insurance that is best for you and any family; however, here is the minimum coverage that must be met:

  • $50,000 per accident or illness
  • Medical evacuation in the amount of $10,000
  • Repatriation coverage for up to $7500
  • A deductible of no more than $500 per illness

Any insurance policy that fulfills these requirements must be underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of “A” or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-i” or above, a Standard and Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of “A” or above, a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above, or such other rating service that the Exchange Visitor Program may specify. Insurance coverage backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the Exchange Visitor’s home country meets the requirements. Health benefits programs offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor or underwritten by a federally qualified health maintenance organization (HMO) or an eligible competitive medical plan as determined by the Health Care Financing Administration shall also qualify. The medical and hospitalization coverage provided by Cedars-Sinai’s employee health benefits meets and exceeds these requirements.

If you willfully fail to maintain the insurance coverage as set forth or make a material misrepresentation to your J-1 sponsor regarding the coverage, you will be considered to be in violation of the Exchange Visitor Program regulations and will be subject to termination as an Exchange Visitor participant. It is your responsibility to obtain and maintain insurance coverage.

Program transfer

A J-1 Exchange Visitor may transfer from one designated Exchange Visitor program to another designated program. Program transfers for professors or research scholars must be effected from within the U.S. and within the five years allowed to Exchange Visitors in these categories. The transfer procedures must be completed prior to the end date as noted on the form DS-2019.

  • Transferring to Cedars-Sinai
    Scholars who have a CSMC appointment and who are currently in the U.S. in J-1 status must complete the J-1 Transfer IN Notification Form and submit it to the VISA office. We will issue your DS-2019 when this form is received and your "transfer release date" has been reached. All new scholars must report to the  VISA office within 15 days of your transfer release date in order to complete the transfer.

  • Transferring from Cedars-Sinai
    Scholars leaving CSMC and transferring to another J-1 program must inform the VISA office of their intention to transfer to another J-1 program and complete the J-1 Transfer OUT Notification Form . Your new J-1 institution will likely give you a form for the VISA office to complete which will ask for a date on which CSMC will release your J-1 record.


Change of Address

Immigration regulations require that you report any changes in address after arrival in the United States within ten days of moving.  Details can be found in the above link.


Replacement Documents

Contact the VISA office immediately should you lose any of your immigration documents, i.e. passport, I-94 card, DS-2019, EAD card, I-797 Approval Notice, etc.

Should your passport is stolen or lost; you should contact the local police office to complete an official police report.  Often, your embassy/consulate may request for a copy of the police report prior to issuing you a replacement passport.  Contact your Embassy/Consulate locally. Keep in mind that only your original documents will prove your legal status in the U.S.  A copy is not sufficient evidence.