Adjustments and Extensions
The responsible officer has the discretion to extend a participant's program to its maximum regulatory duration, that is, to the limit imposed by the regulations specific to a program category or to a program sponsor's designation. A new Form DS-2019 reflecting the extension is issued to the participant.
Extensions beyond the maximum program duration are allowed in some program categories for exceptional or unusual circumstances, with approval from the Department of State. To obtain approval for such extensions, the responsible officer must submit a written request that justifies the petition and provides supporting documentation to the Department of State on behalf of the participant. A nonrefundable fee of $246 is payable to the U.S. Department of State. Participants are referred to their responsible officers for additional information. [22 CFR 62.43]
Change of Category
Any change of category must be clearly consistent with and closely related to the participant's original exchange objective, and necessary due to unusual or exceptional circumstances. Participants should address all inquiries regarding change of category to the responsible officer of their programs. The responsible officer submits a written request with supporting justification for the change to the Department of State on behalf of the participant. A nonrefundable fee of $246 is payable to the U.S. Department of State.
If the Department grants the request, the responsible officer issues a new Form DS-2019 that reflects the change. If the request is denied, the participant is expected to return home no later than 30 days from the date of the Department's notice or the program's end date indicated on the Form DS-2019, whichever is later. [22 CFR 62.41]
The transfer of a participant from one program (sponsor) to another may be allowed at the discretion of the responsible officers and must be within the same category. The responsible officer of the program to which the participant seeks to transfer is required to verify the participant's visa status and eligibility, to issue a new Form DS-2019 reflecting the transfer, and to obtain the release of the participant from the current responsible officer, who indicates approval of the transfer by completing and signing block 8 of the new Form DS-2019. Transfers are not permitted in all categories, and a transfer does not extend the maximum duration of the program. Participants should address all inquiries regarding change of category to the responsible officer of their programs. [22 CFR 62.42]
Participants are subject to the Department of State's Exchange Visitor Program regulations, and to the rules specified by their sponsors. Participants found to be in violation of program regulations and/or sponsors' rules may be terminated from the program.
Other grounds for termination include, but are not limited to:
- Failure to pursue the exchange activities for which the participant was admitted to the United States;
- Inability to continue the program;
- Willful failure to maintain insurance coverage as required under 22 CFR 62.14; and
- Unauthorized employment. [22 CFR 62.40]
Participants who are terminated from their exchange programs are expected to leave the United States immediately.
Reinstatement to valid program status becomes necessary when:
- An exchange visitor's participation in his or her program has somehow interrupted or ended; or
- The participant remains in the United States beyond the program end date indicated on the current Form DS-2019.
Regulatory violations requiring reinstatement of the visitor's status are classified as: minor or technical infractions, which are considered to be a "correction of the record," and which the responsible officer may adjust without prior authorization of the Department of State; substantive, which require the authorization of the Department of State prior to adjustment; and non-reinstatable.
Permission to Issue
The responsible officer has the discretion to request permission to issue a Form DS-2019 on behalf of an institution without an Exchange Visitor Program. The responsible officer submits a written request with supporting justification for the permission to issue to the Department of State on behalf of the institution. A nonrefundable fee of $246 is payable to the U.S. Department of State.
Travel Grace Period
Following the completion of their program, the period defined on the Form DS-2019, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows participants a 30-day travel period commonly referred to as the "Grace Period." During this 30-day grace period, participants are no longer in J-visa status, and are under the jurisdiction of the USCIS. The USCIS grants this period to allow participants to settle their affairs and to prepare to return to their home countries. Program participants may no longer continue and/or complete exchange activities, nor may they work. Although participants may travel in the United States, it is recommended that they do not travel beyond the borders of the United States as they may not be permitted reentry.
Program participants who are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, as established by Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, must apply for a waiver of that requirement if they seek to remain in the United States beyond the end date of their programs or if they seek to submit an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for a change in visa status. A waiver may be requested for five statutory bases:
- a claim of Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child of an exchange visitor if the exchange visitor is required to return to the country of residence;
- a claim that the participant will be persecuted due to race, religion, or political opinions if he/she returns to the country of residence;
- a request from an interested U.S. Government Agency on the participant's behalf;
No Objection Statement from your government; and
- a request by a designated State Health Department or its equivalent.
Participants must file an application to receive a recommendation for a waiver with the Department of State. Please refer to the regulations for details. [22 CFR 41.63]
Information about waivers may also be obtained from the Department of State's Visa Office. The public inquiry line for waivers is (202) 663-1225.
Also, visit the Exchange Visitor Skills List to determine if you are subject to the two-year foreign residence (home-country physical presence) requirement, which requires you to return to your home country for two years at the end of your exchange visitor program.