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

Posted on Thursday, May 11th, 2023 at 3:42 pm.

The Biden Administration’s effort to provide a simplified and seamless customer experience for the public took a great step forward today when the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), published an Interim Final Rule in the Federal Register that permits designated sponsors for the Exchange Visitor Program to digitally sign and electronically transmit the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (J-Nonimmigrant) (Form DS-2019). The new rule is effective as of April 27, 2023. “We’re thrilled that sponsors can now digitally sign and electronically transmit the DS-2019 form,” said Director for the Office of Private Sector Exchange Designation, Karen Ward. “The new regulation will reduce costs, improve efficiencies for exchange program sponsors, and streamline Department of State exchange visitor visa processing.”

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 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.

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.

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. For more information, please click here.

This update to the regulation reinforces the second priority of President Biden’s Management Agenda—centered around improving customer services through technology—and demonstrates the commitment to reducing customer burden, addressing inequities, and streamlining processes. For more information about the Exchange Visitor Program, please visit or follow @ExchangeOurWorld on Instagram.

Categories: J-1 Visa, Program Spotlight

About Rebecca Pasini

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange

Rebecca Pasini

Rebecca A. Pasini joined the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchanges in July 2023. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister - Counselor, Ms. Pasini has been an American diplomat since 1997.

Ms. Pasini previously served as the Director of Public and Congressional Affairs in the Bureau of Consular Affairs from 2021-2023. Other Washington assignments have included positions in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, the Office of Foreign Missions, and as a liaison to the Department of Homeland Security. She has also completed multiple overseas tours, including as Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs in Islamabad, Pakistan, and as the Consular Chief in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Belfast, Northern Ireland. Other tours included Mexico City and Kuwait.

A Maryland native, Ms. Pasini has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Indiana University, a master’s degree in National Security and Resource Strategy from the Eisenhower School, National Defense University, and an undergraduate degree from Mary Washington College.