Pre-Arrival

There is much to do to prepare for a move to another country, but this section focuses on what the scholar must do to ensure they have the correct immigration documents to participate in their Notre Dame program. For more information on Life in the U.S., including Social Security Numbers, Driving in the U.S. and Resources for Spouses, review our Life in the U.S. page. 

STEP 1 - Request the DS-2019 with the host department/academic unit

Once the appointment letter has been issued and signed by the scholar, the host department will send the scholar a link to a form in ISSAlink; they will complete the form to request the DS-2019. Once the request is completed, the department will mail the Form DS-2019, which allows them to apply for a J-1 visa. They should read page 2 of the Form DS-2019 carefully and then sign the bottom of page 1

The scholar will need digital copies (only PDF, JPG, BMP, or PNG formats accepted) of the following documents to upload for the J-1 Applicant Information form:

  • scholar’s ID page in passport
  • all dependents’ (spouse and children under 21) ID pages in passports
  • proof of funding if ND is not paying the scholar (funding requirements and acceptable types of funding can be found here)
  • any previous DS-2019’s, especially if the scholar is transferring from another program or school
STEP 2 - Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charges a one-time Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-901 fee for scholars beginning a new J-1 program. Scholars must pay this fee prior to applying for their J-1 visa. To pay the fee:

  • Complete Form I-901 online and submit payment using a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express credit card. Print the receipt to take to the consulate and when entering the U.S. 
  • Or, pay via Western Union in your home country. Complete instructions can be found on ice.gov. After paying, check your payment status; once confirmed, print the receipt.
STEP 3 - Obtain a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Stamp (excluding Canadians and Bahamanians) 

Visit embassy.gov.state to locate the nearest American embassy or consulate and for specific instructions about applying for the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa in that country.

At most visa interviews, you will need to present:

  • Completed DS-160 non-immigrant visa application receipt;
  • a valid passport, with at least six months validity remaining;
  • a Form DS-2019 issued by the University of Notre Dame;
  • One passport-sized photo;
  • SEVIS I-901 fee payment receipt;
  • Visa application (MRV) fee payment receipt number (visit the appropriate embassy’s or consulate’s website for more information);
  • Appointment letter from the University of Notre Dame;
  • Proof of English language proficiency;
  • Proof of financial support for the Exchange visitor program at Notre Dame;
  • Proof of the scholar's intention to depart the United States after the completion of the Exchange Visitor program; and
  • Other documents detailed on the U.S. embassy or consulate’s website.

Scholars issued a DS-2019 from the University of Notre Dame should not enter the country on visitor visas (ESTA/B-1/B-2 visas).

Step 4 - Secure valid health insurance for duration of visit

J-1 regulations require that the scholar and their J-2 dependents carry health insurance while they are in the United States during their program dates.

If the scholar is a benefit-eligible employee (full time and paid by Notre Dame), they will be eligible for Notre Dame health insurance. Contact the Office of Human Resources at askhr@nd.edu for details.

  • If your hire date is the 1st of a month, you will have insurance coverage from your first date of employment. (Please note that if you do not arrive in the US in time to begin employment on the 1st of the month, your hire date may change.)
  • If your hire date is after the 1st of a month, you will not receive university-sponsored insurance coverage until the 1st of the following month. In the meantime you have two options: You may purchase the university policy at the full price, or you may purchase a short term policy from another company. (If you are interested in the second option, you may consider the companies listed below.)
  • Notre Dame health insurance meets the J-1 regulatory requirements.

If the scholar is not a benefit-eligible employee or if they choose not to purchase Notre Dame health insurance, they and any J-2 dependents must obtain insurance that complies with J-1 regulations.

Per the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program regulations, participants and their dependents are required to have medical insurance coverage with the following minimum benefits [22 CFR 62.14]:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
  • An insurance policy secured to meet the benefits requirements must be underwritten by an insurance corporation with an A.M. Best rating of "A-" or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of "A-I" or above, a Standard and Poor's Claims Paying Ability rating of "A-" or above, or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above. Alternatively, the sponsor may ascertain that the participant's policy is backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor's home country. For other options, see [22 CFR 62.14].

Important note: These amounts must be explicitly identified on the health insurance documentation.

When the scholar checks in with ISSA, an advisor will review their insurance and confirm it is appropriate; the scholar will sign a J-1 Exchange Visitor Insurance Certification form.   

While ISSA does not specifically endorse the companies below, they do offer a policy that meets the J-1 regulations and has been used by other J-1 scholars at Notre Dame:

Each of these plans complies with J-1 regulations as of June 2022. The higher priced plans are likely to provide more robust coverage. The scholar is responsible to compare prices, benefits, and the duration of the plans to determine which is the best fit for them. If they find an insurance policy from a different company, they must confirm that the coverage will meet the J-1 regulatory requirements. Reach out to issa@nd.edu with questions.

Please be aware that the scholar and their dependents may be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.