Navigating the J Visa Process



Many travel restrictions and embassy/consulate closures still remain in effect. Please check our COVID-19 International Travel Guidance for the most up to date information about acquiring a visa and traveling to the U.S.

Step 1: Request a Letter of Invitation

Before you can join the University of Montana as a visiting scholar, it is important to locate a faculty member and/or department that aligns with your research interests. Once you receive a response to your inquiry and they agree to accommodate your time at UM, you will need to request a letter of invitation. This letter must be signed on official UM letterhead clearly stating the following:

  • Full name of visiting scholar
  • Name of host department
  • Start and end dates of time in U.S.
  • Amount of salary or stipend being offered (if applicable)
  • UM resources that will be made available (i.e. office space, library, lab, etc.)

2. Complete Online Forms for the DS-2019

The Form DS-2019 or "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status" is the basic document used in the administration of the exchange visitor program. This form permits a prospective exchange visitor to seek an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in order to obtain a J visa to enter the United States. Each year, a number of visiting scholars from abroad spend time in residence at the University of Montana through the J-1 program. To Request a DS-2019, please work with your host department to complete the following forms and submit the required documentation (listed in the forms) to  

Step 3: Pay the Scholar Fee

To support annual certification fees required by the Department of State, the scholar or host department is responsible for paying an application fee of $120 annually, plus $10 per additional month of their stay in the U.S. before the DS-2019 will be processed.

Scholar Fee Chart

This table outlines fees visiting scholars must pay

Time in the U.S.

Fee Amount

12 months or less


13 months


14 months


15 months


16 months


17 months


18 months


Note: Fee will continue to increase $10 per month of stay in the U.S.

Scholars can pay the fee from abroad by visiting

Host departments can pay the fee by contacting with an index code to JV.

Step 4: Pay the I-901 Fee & Schedule Visa Interview

The SEVIS I-901 fee of US $220  is required for all J-1  visa applicants. Without this fee, you will not be eligible to apply for a visa. You do not need to pay this fee for J-2 dependents. To pay the fee, go to

After you have paid the I-901 fee, you will need to apply for the J-1 visa. To apply for a J-1 visa you should visit the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country. Most countries require that you complete the DS-160 to schedule the interview and an additional fee payment of $160. For the interview, you may  find the  10 Points to Remember useful.

You will need the following for your interview:

  • DS-2019 issued by your UM hosting department or another US sponsor
  • Copy of your Letter of Invitation
  • Statement of financial support
  • Valid country passport
  • Receipt of SEVIS I-901 fee payment