Detailed Description of the DS-2019

Form DS-2019 , “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status” 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 collect information on the F, M and J visa holders. The Form DS-2019 is the basic document required to support an application for an exchange visitor visa (J-1). It is a 2-page document. Foreign nationals are required to sign page one of the form agreeing to the instructions and certification language relating to participation in the exchange program found on page two. No blank SEVIS forms 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 11 numerical characters (E.g. N0002123457). The Form DS-2019:
  • Identifies the participant (block 1);
  • Identifies the sponsor (block 2 and block 7, which contain the name, signature and telephone number/address of the sponsor’s responsible officer);
  • Provides a brief description of the program activity to be completed by the participant (block 2);
  • Identifies the beginning and end dates of the program (block 3) and the program category (block 4); and
  • Provides a breakout of the total estimated financial support to be provided to the participant during his or her program (block 5).

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

The U.S. Department of State will publish an Interim Final Rule in the Federal Register that permits designated sponsors for the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) to digitally sign and electronically transmit the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (J-Nonimmigrant) (Form DS-2019).  The new regulation will reduce costs, improve efficiencies for exchange program sponsors, and streamline Department of State exchange visitor visa processing. The Department of State will accept public comments on the rule for 60 days from the date of publication.    

The Form DS-2019 is the controlled document used by the Department of State to administer the Exchange Visitor Program.  The Form DS-2019 identifies the exchange visitor and their designated sponsor and provides a brief description of the exchange visitor’s program, including the start and end date, category of exchange, and a cost estimate of the exchange program.  Designated sponsors are authorized to issue Forms DS-2019 to prospective exchange visitors that are screened and selected for participation in a sponsor’s exchange program. The information in this form is completed by the sponsor prior to issuing it to the prospective exchange visitor. 

Once a sponsor issues a Form DS-2019 to a prospective exchange visitor, the exchange visitor and their spouse or children can apply for a J-1 or J-2 nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.  If approved for a J-1 and J-2 visa, the exchange visitor and their spouse or children must carry their Form DS-2019 to the U.S. border, where the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will review this form as part of the exchange visitor’s application for admission into the United States.  

Until now, sponsors had to mail paper copies of Form DS-2019 to prospective exchange visitors. With this updated change, sponsors may continue to mail paper copies of Form DS-2019 to prospective exchange visitors or take advantage of two new options:  

  • Sponsors may print and physically sign paper forms in ink, scan and save them (e.g., as portable document format (PDF) files), and electronically transmit them (e.g., via email). The new rule eliminates the requirement that sponsors sign the Form DS-2019 in blue ink.
  • Sponsors may use digital signature software to sign Forms DS-2019 and then electronically transmit them.
  • Frequently Asked Questions