Detailed Description of the DS-2019

The Form DS-2019, “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (J-Nonimmigrant),” is a Department of State controlled document that can only be produced through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is the Department of Homeland Security database developed to maintain information on F, M, and J visa holders. The Form DS-2019 is required to support an application for a nonimmigrant J visa for exchange visitors (J-1) and their accompanying spouses and dependents (J-2), if any. It is a two-page document. Foreign nationals are required to sign page one of the form agreeing with the certification statement found on page two. No blank Forms DS-2019 exist. Each Form DS-2019 is printed with a unique identifier known as a “SEVIS ID number” in the top right-hand corner, which consists of an “alpha” character (N) and up to 10 numerical characters (e.g., N0001234567). The Form DS-2019:
  • Identifies the exchange visitor (J-1) or their accompanying spouse or dependents, if any (J-2) (block 1)
  • Identifies the sponsor (block 2 and block 7, which contain the name, signature, and telephone number/address of the sponsor’s officer that printed the form)
  • Provides details about the sponsor including the program number and categories for which they are designated (block 2)
  • Identifies the beginning and end dates of the program (block 3) and the applicable program category and subject/field description (block 4)
  • Provides a breakout of the total estimated financial support for the exchange visitor during their program (block 5)

U.S. Department of State Announces Updated Options for Form DS-2019  

On March 28, 2023, the Department of State published an Interim Final Rule in the Federal Register that permits designated sponsors for the Exchange Visitor Program to digitally sign and electronically transmit Forms DS-2019 to an enumerated list of parties. The new regulation will reduce costs, improve efficiencies for exchange program sponsors, and streamline Department of State exchange visitor visa processing. While the rule goes into effect on April 27, 2023, the Department of State will accept public comments on the rule until May 30, 2023. 

The Form DS-2019 is the controlled document used by the Department of State to administer the Exchange Visitor Program. Exchange visitors and their accompanying spouses or dependents, if any, must present paper Forms DS-2019 to apply for nonimmigrant J visas at U.S. embassies or consulates. Exchange visitors must obtain J-1 visas and accompanying spouses or dependents, if any, must obtain J-2 visas to enter the United States. They must carry their Forms DS-2019 to the U.S. port of entry and present their passports, visas, and Forms DS-2019 to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers to seek entry into the United States.

Prior to April 27, 2023, sponsors had to sign paper Forms DS-2019 in blue ink and mail them to prospective exchange visitors. With the publication of the Interim Final Rule, sponsors may continue to mail paper copies of Forms DS-2019, but no longer must sign them in blue ink. In addition, the Interim Final Rule offers two new options:

  • Sponsors may print and physically sign paper forms in ink (blue ink not required), scan and save them (e.g., as portable document format (PDF) files), and electronically transmit them (e.g., via email).
  • Sponsors may use digital signature software to sign Forms DS-2019 and then electronically transmit them (e.g., via email) or mail them.