COVID-19 FAQs for J-1 Exchange Visitors

The Notre Dame community continues to work collectively to do all they can to support current and new international students and scholars through the current health crisis. We appreciate the many difficulties our international students and scholars face during this unprecedented time of crisis, and we are committed to navigating this together.

While the physical office is closed in alignment with current University policy, ISSA is offering full advising services. While some processing may be delayed, all requests will be processed in a timely manner. We cannot arrange for in person pick up of documents, at this time.

We have addressed frequently asked questions below for J-1 Exchange Visitors in the Short-term Scholar, Research Scholar, and Professor categories, but please contact us at with additional questions that are not addressed below.

New J-1 Exchange Visitors

I just arrived in the US. When should I attend a new Scholar Welcome Session and validate my DS-2019 record?

Welcome to the University of Notre Dame! Please contact Cynthia Reeves at to schedule a Scholar Welcome Session.

I am a prospective scholar/employee. Should I still come to the University of Notre Dame?

If your supervisor can accommodate you during the current health crisis and remote work environment, you are welcome to come as planned. ISSA continues to process all scholar requests. If your arrival will be delayed due to travel restrictions or visa processing delays, please inform your department and ISSA.

Will I be able to get my J-1 visa?

As of March 2020, the U.S. Department of State suspended visa processing services, and it has not provided guidance about when the U.S. embassies and consulates will begin processing visa applications again. We are a member of a number of professional educational organizations that have actively and publicly encouraged the government to expedite the visa process for international students and scholars so they can begin their programs on time throughout the U.S. this fall. Ultimately, it is the federal government's decision as to when visas will be processed again, and until we receive that guidance, we must wait.

Please check the Department of State's websites for updates and monitor the visa services available in your home country. ISSA is closely monitoring and will provide updates here as they are made available.

Current J-1 Exchange Visitors

How can I get an updated travel signature if ISSA is physically closed?

You can request an updated DS-2019 in with the Request New DS-2019 form. Once your request has been approved, we will advise you of your mailing options.

I am a J-1 Exchange Visitor in Research Scholar, Short-term Scholar, or Professor category, and my EV program ends soon. What happens if I can’t exit the U.S.?

It is important to remember that J-1 Exchange Visitors (EV’s) have a 30 day grace period after their program end date. The Department of State recently extended program end dates for EV's in Research Scholar, Professor, and Student category by 60 days, if the program end date was March 31 to May 31, 2020.

Short-term Scholars whose programs have already reached the maximum six months and who cannot return home may need to consider submitting a petition to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request a change of status to B2 immigration status. There is a filing fee associated with this type of petition. We would recommend that individuals considering filing for a change of status consult with an immigration attorney for assistance in determining if such a petition is possible based on the individual’s circumstances and, if so, providing assistance in preparing and submitting the petition to USCIS. Such a petition may not be possible in all cases.

I have already left the U.S. or plan to leave in the next few weeks. When can I return?

As the public health situation continues to evolve globally, it is significantly impacting mobility and travel. ISSA continues to monitor guidance from the Department of State, the CDC, SEVP, and USCIS, and with any travel plans, both domestic and international. We advise you to also closely monitor entry requirements and relevant U.S. restrictions and understand that it is the U.S. government’s decision as to when travel restrictions will be lifted or enforced.

If you plan to exit the U.S. and your visa will expire before your intended return, we remind you that the Department of State has suspended all routine visa services and has not provided a specific date for resuming services. With the suspension, we expect significant backlogs for visa applications, which may impact your travel plans.

If I am not working remotely within the U.S., should I update ISSA?

All address changes must be reported to USCIS within 10 days of the change. If you are on a J visa and have remained in the U.S., but are not living at the same address you previously reported, go to and fill out a “Change of US Address” form in the J-1 Scholar Services folder. If you are now working remotely, please email to report this change.

I am a J-1 Scholar who is finishing my program early and returning home. Is there anything I need to do?

You should coordinate any early departure (leaving before the end of your appointment / DS-2019 end date) with your Notre Dame department. Once a departure plan has been established, fill out the “Scholar or Dependent Departure” form at to let ISSA know so that we can update your SEVIS record.

I plan to end my time at the University of Notre Dame, but now I can’t find a flight home. What should I do?

Keep in mind that you do have a 30-day grace period after your current program end date with which to leave the U.S. You have a few options which may be helpful:

  • If you are in the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category, work with your Notre Dame host department to see if you can temporarily extend your appointment at the University. To extend your DS-2019 for a J-visa you will need to have extended health insurance, funding at Notre Dame minimum levels, and an updated appointment letter. Your department will initiate the Program Extension process.
  • Please contact your home country embassy or consulate in the U.S. to let them know your situation. You may use the website here to find foreign consulates in the U.S. They may have repatriation flights to assist you in your return home.
  • Contact an immigration attorney to discuss the possibility of changing your status to a B-1 (visitor status).