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Visiting Scholars


J-1 Exchange Scholars

The staff of the Western Kentucky University  International Student Office is pleased that you will be visiting our campus community in the near future. At WKU, you will be part of a community of over 1000 International students and faculty members from over 70 countries. We value you as a future J-1 for the diversity you bring and encourage you to share your unique culture with all of us on “The Hill” and within our Bowling Green community. We encourage you to explore our website to gain valuable insight about your J-1 status and services available to you.

 

Department Host Information

How to Invite an International Scholar to WKU

The U.S. Department of State’s Exchange Visitor program is designed to promote international education and cultural exchange in order to develop mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. Exchange Visitor (J-1) visa status is designed for a variety of educational purposes to bring persons to the United States under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State.

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is carried out pursuant to the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. Its purpose is to enhance understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges.

At Western Kentucky University, we are authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue DS-2019 forms for the following J-1 categories:  

Short Term Scholar

A short-term scholar is defined as : A professor, research scholar, specialist, or a person with similar education or accomplishments coming to the United States on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions, or similar type of institutions. [22 C.F.R.§62.4(b)]  The short-term category:

  1. is appropriate for appointment less than six months in length
  2. can not be extended beyond six months
  3. not subject to the 24-month bar on return visits as a J-1 scholar
  4. may be paid or unpaid

Research Scholar/Professor

The primary purpose of a Research Scholar is to allow research, observation or consultation in connection with research projects; the Research Scholar is also allowed to teach or lecture. The primary purpose of a Professor is to teach or lecture; the Professor is also allowed to conduct research. Both the Research Scholar and Professor categories:

  1. are issued for WKU appointment of three weeks to five years in duration
  2. allow for extensions up to the five year maximum
  3. are subject to a 24-month bar on repeat participation in either the Research Scholar or Professor categories
  4. may be able to return to the U.S. in a different J category, such as Short-Term Scholar) or in other visa categories such as F-1, B-1/B-2, H-1B during the 24-month bar period
  5. non-tenure track
  6. may be paid or unpaid

Finances

 Prior to issuing the federal immigration document SEVIS DS-2019 for Exchange Visitors, the WKU International Student Office (ISO) is required to document that all visitors will have sufficient funding while in the U.S. so they will not experience financial hardship during their period of stay at WKU. A living allowance of $1,500 per month for the scholar, $500 for the spouse, and $250 for each child is considered to be the minimum amount required for ISO to issue the DS-2019 form.  The scholar must submit an original financial document(s) to ISO that verifies sufficient funding for the duration of stay.

 If WKU or another institution is providing financial assistance, the original letter documenting the funding must be submitted to ISO. If the scholar is self-funded, he/she will be required to provide an original financial document form(s) that shows total assets of $1,500 per month which can include personal (bank) funds, government funds, or any other source of funding.

 As a condition of the J-1 visa, ALL visiting scholars and their dependents are required to have medical insurance for the period of their appointment, starting with the day of arrival.  ALL WKU visiting scholars will be required to purchase the WKU-contracted health insurance policy upon their arrival to United States with an estimated cost of $1,600 per calendar year. Please see chart below for 2017-2018 rates. It is very important that visiting scholars do not purchase health insurance plan from their home country prior to their coming to the U.S. Please note that the health insurance cost for the dependents is approximately two (2) to three (3) times the cost for the visiting scholar.

AHP Rates for J1 scholars - 2017-2018

Scholar:  approximately    $150.00 per month 
Spouse:  approximately    $150.00 per month
One child: approximately  $150.00 per month 
Two or more children approximately $300.00 per month  

In order for ISO to help guide you through the process of what to do before your J visitor arrives, please follow the instructions below. 

Pre-Arrival Instructions

1. Due to the lengthy J-1 visa procedure, please provide a MINIMUM of three months lead time in preparing paperwork for new visiting scholars (Departments should be aware that delays in visa processing and security checks can mean that some scholars may need up to 4 months to secure a J-1 visa in order to arrive at WKU).

2. In order to initiate the procedure to invite a visiting scholar, please provide ISO with the prospective scholar's FIRST AND LAST NAME, DOB, E-MAIL ADDRESS AND CITIZENSHIP AND WKU 800# (see instructions below for obtaining 800#).

3. Hosting Department should arrange and or assist the visiting scholar with airport pick up and search for housing.

4. If visiting scholars will teach at WKU, they MUST bring ORIGINAL TRANSCRIPTS with them to WKU.

5. ALL J visitors MUST purchase and maintain valid WKU- health insurance for themselves and their dependents at all time in the States. Therefore, they should NOT purchase health insurance from overseas.

6. It is extremely important to reserve housing for your visitor as soon as possible! To secure housing, YOU must complete the Visiting Scholar Residences' Departmental Agreement Form. Bedrooms are available on a first come, first serve basis only. Ms. Stephanie Hammons is the contact.

* Visiting scholars who are here by themselves have priority over visiting scholars who are here with a spouse. Visiting scholars with dependent children MUST seek off campus housing due to scholar residences being not suitable for children.

Post-Arrival Instructions

 1. As soon as you know the date of the J visitor’s arrival, make an appt. for the J visitor to meet with ISO for a J-1 orientation. This is required by the U.S. Department of State and must be within the first week of their arrival to the U.S.

2. During the week your J visitor arrives, please help them obtain a WKU ID card and Social Security card (if visitor is paid by WKU). The WKU ID card is $10.00 for visiting scholars and the scholar must provide the Invitation Letter and 800# to the ID Center.

STEP # 1 ► Request a WKU 800 number for your J-1 Visitor 

In order for ISO to be able to issue the appropriate immigration documents, a WKU 800 number must be first assigned to the prospective scholar. So please e-mail Patty Booth (patty.booth@wku.edu) the following information about your J-1 visitor:

  • First and Last Name
  • Gender
  • DOB
  • Citizenship
  • Email
  • Hosting WKU Department
  • Will visitor be a WKU employee?

Let Patty know that this individual is coming on a J Visa and copy iso@wku.edu on the email. WKU BANNER takes about 24 hours to update the system with the new name and 800 number. Patty will send you the 800#. If the Visitor will be an employee at WKU, Patty will also provide you with the Visitor’s email address and further instructions on the payroll process.

 ***Please provide ISO with Visitor’s 800# before logging into iStart below. ***


STEP # 2 
► Log in to iStart to initiate the process 

First you will need to access iStart

 iStart is a software that reads from BANNER to assure accurate transfer and reporting of students' and scholars' data to appropriate offices and agencies. Visa Request forms and petitions requested by students or departments are easily submitted through this service. All services require using your WKU NetID Username and Password to Login in to setup an access account. Once approved, using e-forms or request is reliable, secure, and fast.

 In order to bring your scholar, you will need to be given access to iStart. Please follow these steps:

  1. Go to http://iStart.wku.edu/
  2. Click on "Administrative Services for University Departments" (this will be on the bottom on the page).
  3. At iStart Services Login Page you will need to log on with your NetID Username and Password. If you do not know your Portal Username and Password please go to the following link: NetID Help.
  4. Once you log in the iStart screen click "Departmental Access Request" (it will be on the left hand side). Please fill out your information. After you have done this ISO will be able to approve you within 24 hours as a user for iStart.
  5. You will receive an e-mail from ISO informing you of your approval as an iStart user. If you have trouble logging into iStart please contact iso@wku.edu.

After you have received access:

  1. Log into iStart at http://iStart.wku.edu/ and click the "Administrative Services for University Departments" link.
  2. You will then click the “Departmental Services” link on the left hand side.
  3. Finally click the “J-1 Scholar Services” link and complete the following 2 forms in order for ISO to receive your completed Application.

I. J-1 Scholar Host Department Form

II. J-1 Scholar Application 

You may bookmark iStart for your reference or you can access it from our homepage: www.wku.edu/international 

If you have questions or need assistance feel free to call us at 745-4857 or e-mail us at iso@wku.edu.

STEP # 3 ► Send the Letter of invitation/offer to ISO 

Once ISO receives the iStart Department Request Form, financial documents and your department invitation letter, ISO will issue form DS-2019 to allow the prospective scholar to apply for the J-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate at his/her country.

 ISO will contact you to pick up and mail the packet. We strongly encourage using Fed Ex to send international mailing.

NOTE ► Please make sure the prospective scholar stays in direct contact with ISO in regards to J-1 visa requirements and procedures.

Sample Letter of Invitation/Offer from WKU Department

WKU hosting department must issue a letter of invitation or offer to the prospective scholar indicating the financial commitment and the start and end dates of the proposed employment. If there will be no financial commitment from WKU, a letter of offer should still be issued offering the position and indicating the information listed above. Please view the sample letter of invitation/offer below.

SAMPLE INVITATION LETTER 

NOTE: Invitation letters must be signed by the Host Professor and Department Head 

Please send the original letter of invitation to the International Student Office (ISO).

For questions please call (270)-745-4857 or e-mail us at iso@wku.edu.

Post-Arrival Information for your J1 Visitor

How to secure Housing for your Visitor

It is extremely important to reserve housing for your visitor as soon as possible! To secure housing, YOU must complete the Visiting Scholar Residences' Departmental Agreement form  www.wku.edu/oip/VSR/vsr.html. Bedrooms are available on a first come, first serve basis only. Ms. Stephanie Hammons is the contact.

Priorities and Restrictions for use of the Visiting Scholars Residences

Visiting scholars who are here by themselves have priority over visiting scholars who are here with a spouse. Visiting scholars with dependent children must seek off campus housing due to scholar residences being not suitable for children.

How to get a WKU 800 #, Net ID and E-Mail account for your Visitor

After the prospective Scholar secures his/her J-1 visa, you can help obtain a WKU 800 #, Net ID and Email account for your visiting Scholar. For step-by-step instructions please click here. If you have technical questions or need help, please call the IT Department at extension 5-7000 (IT help desk).

Transportation from the Airport for your Visitor

You can also arrange airport shuttle service to Bowling Green from Nashville. Please visit InShuttle Transportation or Airport Shuttle of Bowling Green for more details.

On Campus & Local Transportation

WKU does provide a free shopping shuttle for students that your visitor can use in order to get groceries and supplies. The schedule is available at the WKU Department of Transportation website.

How to get a WKU ID Card for your Visitor

When your visitor has arrived he/she need to go to the ID Center in DUC, Room 126. Your visitor MUST have a photo ID (such as a passport), their letter of offer/invitation, WKU 800 # AND pay $10.00. He/she will have their picture taken and then they will get his/her ID card. The whole process only takes a few minutes, except in special cases such as large group enrollments. For questions or comments about the ID Card, contact Sherry.Blanton@WKU.edu or call (270) 745-2417.

MANDATORY Insurance 

As an Exchange Visitor in the United States and under the U.S. federal government rules, ALL J-1 scholars MUST carry health insurance for themselves and their J-2 dependents for the full duration of their J program in the States. U.S. government regulations stipulate that if the J-1 visa holder willfully fails to carry health insurance for her/himself and her/his dependents, the J-1 SEVIS record will be terminated resulting in the termination of the visitor’s program and return back to his/her home country.

Additionally, health care in the United States is very expensive. A simple visit to a doctor can cost hundreds of dollars and staying in the hospital for a couple of days may cost thousands. Therefore, WKU (your J-1 visa sponsor) has negotiated, selected and approved a health plan that meets the U.S government requirements and ALL WKU International Scholars and their families MUST purchase the plan. Detailed information regarding the plan can be found at WKU Student/Scholar Health Insurance.  Since AHP health insurance meets the U.S government requirement, DO NOT purchase health insurance in your home country or in the United States. You will purchase the health insurance at your Orientation.

Please see chart below for the 2017-2018 J Scholar monthly rates. Please note that the health insurance cost for the dependents is the same as the cost for the visiting scholar.

AHP Rates for J1 scholars (2017-2018)

Scholar:  approximately   $150 per month
Spouse:  approximately   $150 per month
Child: approximately       $150 per month
Two or more children: approximately $300 per month

To best utilize your Health Insurance, we recommend visiting Graves Gilbert Clinic at WKU located on campus. Their services range from routine physicals and doctor visits to lab work, x-rays, immunizations, urgent care, sports medicine, health counseling, and annual exams.

Health insurance is MANDATORY for ALL international scholars and their J-2 dependents for the duration of their stay at WKU

DEFINITIONS OF IMPORTANT HEALTH INSURANCE TERMS pdf 

 

MANDATORY Orientation

The International Student Office (ISO) provides MANDATORY orientation for all new international scholars upon their arrival to WKU. During the orientation, scholars will receive crucial information that will help them adjust to WKU and life in the U.S. Topics include checking in to the university system, learning your responsibility to maintain legal status in the States, and how to obtain your health insurance card.

ALL new visiting scholars MUST attend a MANDATORY international scholar check-in and be at orientation at ISO within the first week of their arrival to Bowling Green. Failure to attend the orientation at ISO within 30 days after the start date that is listed on the DS-2019 form will result in complications in your visiting scholars’ immigration status.

 

Prospective Scholar Host Information

J-1 Scholar Visa Information

Exchange Visitor Welcome Brochure from the US Department of State

https://j1visa.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Brochure-The-Exchange-Visitor-Program.pdf

Two-Year Residency Requirements for J-1 scholars

Some J-1 exchange visitors may be subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement. If your Form DS-2019 or visa stamp indicates that you are subject to the requirement, you will be required to return to your home country for at least two years at the end of your exchange visitor program to share the research and cultural knowledge you have gained. If you are subject to this requirement, you cannot pursue H-1B, L, K, or permanent resident status until you complete the requirement.

Waiver requests

For more information on the two-year home residency requirement waiver process, please visit the U.S. Department of State’s website (https://www.state.gov/)

Pre-arrival checklist for J-1 scholars

  • Look over your DS-2019 and make sure all of the information is accurate. Read the included welcome materials
  • Contact the U.S. consulate in your country to schedule a visa interview. You should apply early to provide ample time for visa processing. Check the S. Department of State website (insert the link https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/study-exchange/exchange.html ) for visa application information
  • Pay the SEVIS fee ($200)
  • Bring the required documentation to your visa interview. Required fees and documentation vary by country, so check with the Embassy for your home country to find out what applies to you. At the minimum, please be prepared to present the following:
  • DS-2019
  • Financial support documentation
  • SEVIS fee receipt
  • Passport valid for at least six months into the future
  • One 2 inch by 2 inch photograph
  • Evidence of ties to your home country
  • Working with your hosting department to arrange housing, and transportation to the campus. The closest airport is in Nashville, TN.
  • Arrange visiting scholar residences: your host department will assist you in arranging the visiting scholar residences. Please coordinate with the contact person at your host department.

The Exchange Visitor Program

The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges. International educational and cultural exchanges are one of the most effective means of developing lasting and meaningful relationships. 

Applying for a Scholar J-1 Visa

Like all countries in the world, the United States has laws and regulations governing international visitors who are temporarily within its borders. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administer the immigration regulations. International scholars are those who already have, or will be applying for a temporary United States Visa (most commonly the J-1 Visa) to teach, conduct research and or perform in the United States. Therefore, it is important for you to understand the immigration rules as they apply to your visiting scholar status. The DHS-USCIS does not consider ignorance of the law a legitimate reason for failing to obey it.

Passport

Be sure to apply for a passport in your home country with first and last names that match exactly the first and last names on the education documents you will submit to WKU. Most passports are good for a limited period of time. Your passport must be valid at all times while you are in the United States. It is your responsibility to apply for the passport and to remember when it will expire and contact the nearest consulate or embassy of your country in the United States to renew it. Visit this directory of foreign embassies and consulates  in the U.S. if you need to locate your home country’s embassy/consulate to renew your passport.

Pay your SEVIS Fee PRIOR to the visa interview

Enclosed is your DS-2019 form. Please use this form to apply for your J-1 scholar visa.

U.S. Immigration requires ALL new international scholars to pay the SEVIS fee PRIOR to the visa interview at the U.S. Consulate/Embassy. Failure to pay the SEVIS fee will result in a visa denial. You may pay the SEVIS fee online at www.fmjfee.com using a valid credit card, valid passport and your DS-2019 form. To pay your SEVIS fee, please complete the following steps with accurate information:

  • Go to www.fmjfee.com & click “Proceed to I-901 Form and Payment”.
  • Scroll down & click “DS-2019” button & “OK”
  • Fill out your personal information and enter your 10 digit SEVIS Identification Number which is listed on the top right of your form DS-2019 (above the bar code) beginning with the number after the letter "N", click “Enter”
  • Since you hold a WKU DS-2019, the school code is “P-1-03954”
  • Make sure the information is correct on the next page.
  • Complete the credit card information with the cardholder’s address and not yours
  • Print 2 copies of the last page to serve as your receipt.

J-1 Visa Information

http://www.wku.edu/iso/scholars/scholvisa.php

Apply for J-1 Visa

When WKU offers you an opportunity to teach, conduct research and or perform, ISO will enter your information into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and send you a SEVIS DS-2019 to help you apply for J-1 visiting scholar visa. Thereafter, you MUST pay the SEVIS fee at www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/ using a valid credit card BEFORE you present the following documents to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your home country to apply for the J-1 Visa:

 1. Valid Passport (for at least 6 months)

2. Original letter of offer/invitation from WKU

3. Valid SEVIS DS-2019 form issued by WKU

4. Original copies of all financial documents [such as bank statement(s)]

5. Proof of ties to your home country (such as a job, ownership of property, etc.)

6. Copies of all of your university records/ transcripts and diploma (Original if you plan to teach at WKU)

7. Copy of your SEVIS fee payment receipt

8. Visa Application and other embassy requirements including fee and personal photos

 You may apply for the J-1 visa within 120 days before the start date on the DS-2019 form and you will be able to enter the United States within 30 days before the start date on the DS-2019 form. When you submit all items above to the U.S.; Embassy/Consulate to apply for the J-1 Visa, the Embassy will verify your information in the SEVIS system and decide whether to issue a Visa to you.

When attending the visa interview, scholar should remain calm and answer all of the visa officer’s questions openly and honestly. For more tips on the visa interview, please click HERE.

 If You Are Denied A Visa

 Please visit the U.S. Department of State Web site to learn more about the Visa denial.

 After You Are Granted a J-1 Visa

 The U.S. Embassy/Consulate will add a Visa sticker with your photo in your passport for permission to enter the United States for a specific purpose and period of time. Visiting Scholars are usually given a J-1 Visa, spouses and children of J-1 visa holders are assigned a J-2 Visa. After having the Visa sticker in your passport, you must have the following documents to enter the U.S.:

 1. Valid Passport (for at least 6 months) with a valid J-1 Visa

2. Original letter of offer/invitation from WKU

3. Valid SEVIS DS-2019 form issued by WKU

 After Your Arrival to the United States

 When you arrive at a United States airport, you will be asked to complete a form called I-94, also called the Arrival/Departure Record of Stay Permit. This form is very important since it officially determines how long an international scholar can remain in the U.S. Scholars on the J-1 Visas usually have their I-94 stamped “D/S” (Duration of Status), which means you can remain in this country for the length of time required to complete your teaching/research and as long as you follow all the regulations of the J-1 Visa. The 11-digit number written on your I-94 is your DHS-USCIS admission number, which is used by the USCIS to monitor your entry into and departure from the U.S.(see PDF filepdf file)

 For more information about your entry procedure to the United States, please visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

 J-1 Visiting Scholars’ Responsibilities

 Visitors in J-1 status are responsible for understanding and complying with U.S. federal laws and regulations governing the J visa. Failure to do so will violate the scholar’s legal status in the U.S. Your responsibilities include but may not be limited to the following.

  •  Report Address Changes to the ISO. U.S. Federal regulations require all J-1 scholars to report a change of address within 10 days of the address change.
  • Report Departure Date and Reason to ISO. Periodically, scholars leave the university early or unexpectedly due to a variety of reasons. U.S. federal regulations require all J-1 scholars to inform their advisor at ISO if they plan to leave the university before the expiration date of their DS-2019 form as well as the reason for doing so.
  • Apply for an Extension Prior to the DS-2019 Expiration. J-1 Scholars must apply for an extension before their DS-2019 from expires if they intend to stay at WKU. Scholars in the Research Scholar or Professor categories have a maximum of 5 years to complete their J-1 program. Short-term scholars have 6 months.
  • Report Changes in Program to ISO. Scholars MUST notify ISO whenever there is a change in their academic program.
  • Maintain Adequate Health Insurance. J-1 Scholars must maintain health insurance for themselves and any dependents in J-2 status throughout their stay in the U.S.
  • Abide by Employment Regulations. J-1 Scholars must conduct research or teach only at WKU unless specifically authorized ahead of time by their advisor at ISO to give a lecture or consult at another institution.
  • Receive Transfer Authorization Prior to Leaving WKU. J-1 Scholars must receive authorization from their advisor at ISO before leaving WKU in order to transfer to another institution. You must make an appointment at ISO at least one-two months before you will be permitted to transfer out.
  • Depart the U.S. within the 30-Day Grace Period. J-1 Scholars must depart the U.S. within 30 days after the DS-2019 expiration date or program end date, whichever is earlier, unless they have applied for a change of status with the DHS.
  • Obtain Travel Signature Prior to Departing the U.S. J-1 Scholars must have their DS-2019 signed by their advisor at ISO prior to travelling outside the U.S.

Prepare for Travel


Entering the United States

To arrive at WKU, board an international flight to a major U.S. airport such as ones in New York, Chicago, Detroit, or Atlanta and take a domestic/local flight to Nashville, Tennessee International Airport (BNA).

Nashville International Airport (BNA) is a major commercial city located in Tennessee State, one hour drive to Bowling Green, Kentucky.

You will need the following items in hand when entering the United States and passing through Customs and Border Patrol at the Port of Entry:

  • Valid passport(s) containing a valid J-1 visa (or J-2 visas for accompanying family members
  • Original, signed DS-2019 forms(s) for the scholar and any accompanying family members
  • Proof of financial support (originally presented at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate)
  • Courtesy appointment form, WKU employment contract or Letter of Welcome from the WKU hosting department

Travel to Nashville, Tennessee, USA

To arrive at WKU, board an international flight to a major U.S. airport such as ones in New York City, Chicago, or Detroit and take a domestic/local flight to Nashville International Airport (BNA).

Nashville International Airport (BNA). Nashville is a major commercial city located in Tennessee State, a one hour drive to Bowling Green, Kentucky. The next closest cities would be Louisville KY, and Lexington KY and they are about a 2-3 hours drive from Bowling Green.

Travel Tips

Please purchase your airline ticket and make your travel arrangement after your F-1 or J-1 student visa is secure.
Please try to arrange your plane to arrive in Nashville during the day so that you can make arrangements for shuttle to Bowling Green
Never leave your luggage unattended at the airport and do not allow strangers to carry your bags. Do not carry bags belonging to others
Always observe signs and regulations in public places
Always carry your valid credit card and some cash in the amount of 400 USD (U.S. dollars) in case of an emergency. Carry some change in dollars, like one dollar bills. Carry Travel checks as much as possible.
Do not accept rides from strangers. Take only official taxis from the airport to your final destination
Be careful who you give personal information to (e.g., your name or address).
Be aware of your surroundings. If you are lost, ask a police officer, security guard, airline personnel, or airport workers for assistance.
In case of an emergency, dial 911 from any telephone
How to get to Bowling Green?

You can also arrange airport shuttle service to Bowling Green from Nashville. Please visit InShuttle Transportation or Airport Shuttle of Bowling Green for more details. For InShuttle Transportation, the cost is about $70 +$5 for tip per person/one way. If you have a WKU ID, the cost is $50 + $5 tip per person/one way for a ride from Nashville International Airport (BNA) to WKU International Student Office (ISO) office at 1536 State Street, Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101.

What do I need to bring with me to Bowling Green?

We recommend you bring the following items for your room at WKU or rental apartment off campus. If you cannot bring them, make sure to have extra money to purchase them in the United States.

There may be some items that you may see as more important than others, but ISO strongly suggests you bring/purchase the items listed below to make your life comfortable:

Address book
Eyeglasses/contact lenses (if needed)
Dictionary
Medicine and prescriptions (for several months)
Towel, soap, and Toothbrush
Slippers/flip flops
Warm sweaters or coats
Pillowcases, Bedspread and sheets (size 2m X 3m)
Clothes (jackets, dress shoes, and Pajamas)
Music from your home country
Traditional dress/outfit
Personal computer software
Photos (family and friends)
Most International Flights allow each person a maximum of two pieces of luggage weighing 50lbs (22 kg) each (22 kg x 2) (does not include hand luggage). Please make sure to write your name and address on the labels of your luggage.

If you will be making more than one stop in your flight/trip, make sure to write your final destination on the labels of your luggage.

In case of emergency or if your luggage is lost, always write down an address where your luggage can be sent in case of a misplace.

Note: All of the items above are very necessary for all new international students and scholars coming to WKU. Please make sure to include all of them in your bags. However, for more helpful information on your preparation before coming to the United States, please visit the eduPASS Web site.

Local Motels

You may need to spend the first night or two in a local motel. There are over 30 hotels and motels in Bowling Green. To find a hotel, you may visit www.findsoky.com to find your choices hotel. The following two motels are reasonable:

Hampton Inn
233 Three Springs Road
Bowling Green, KY 42104
(270) 842-4100

Microtel Inns & Suites
1980 Mel Browning Road
Bowling Green, KY – 42101
(270) 745 – 9922

Welcome to Bowling Green and WKU!

After Arrival Checklist for J-1 scholars

  • Plan to enter the United States up to 30 days before to the start date on your DS-2019. You must arrive no later than 15 days after the start date.
  • Upon arrival in Western Kentucky University, you must check in at the International Student Office. You will be asked to complete some forms in iStart.
  • Attend a mandatory J-1 scholar orientation session. It is required by federal law that you attend an orientation session. You need to set up a time by sending an email to iso@wku.edu, and to indicate on the subject as “J-1 Orientation”
  • Enroll in an insurance policy that meets U.S. requirements for J-1 visitors at the orientation
  • Work with your host department to receive a university photo ID card, 800#, email account
  • Work with the international student office to apply for a social security card, and a driver’s license if desired 

MANDATORY Insurance 

As an Exchange Visitor in the United States and under the U.S. federal government rules, ALL J-1 scholars MUST carry health insurance for themselves and their J-2 dependents for the full duration of their J program in the States. U.S. government regulations stipulate that if the J-1 visa holder willfully fails to carry health insurance for her/himself and her/his dependents, the J-1 SEVIS record will be terminated resulting in the termination of the visitor’s program and return back to his/her home country.

Additionally, health care in the United States is very expensive. A simple visit to a doctor can cost hundreds of dollars and staying in the hospital for a couple of days may cost thousands. Therefore, WKU (your J-1 visa sponsor) has negotiated, selected and approved a health plan that meets the U.S government requirements and ALL WKU International Scholars and their families MUST purchase the plan. Detailed information regarding the plan can be found at WKU Student/Scholar Health Insurance.  Since AHP health insurance meets the U.S government requirement, DO NOT purchase health insurance in your home country or in the United States. You will purchase the health insurance at your Orientation.

Please see chart below for the 2017-2018 J Scholar monthly rates. Please note that the health insurance cost for the dependents is the same as the cost for the visiting scholar.

AHP Rates for J1 scholars (2017-2018)

Scholar:  approximately   $150 per month
Spouse:  approximately   $150 per month
Child: approximately       $150 per month
Two or more children: approximately $300 per month

To best utilize your Health Insurance, we recommend visiting Graves Gilbert Clinic at WKU located on campus. Their services range from routine physicals and doctor visits to lab work, x-rays, immunizations, urgent care, sports medicine, health counseling, and annual exams.

Health insurance is MANDATORY for ALL international scholars and their J-2 dependents for the duration of their stay at WKU

DEFINITIONS OF IMPORTANT HEALTH INSURANCE TERMS pdf 

 

MANDATORY Orientation

The International Student Office (ISO) provides MANDATORY orientation for all new international scholars upon their arrival to WKU. During the orientation, scholars will receive crucial information that will help them adjust to WKU and life in the U.S. Topics include checking in to the university system, learning your responsibility to maintain legal status in the States, and how to obtain your health insurance card.

ALL new visiting scholars MUST attend a MANDATORY international scholar check-in and be at orientation at ISO within the first week of their arrival to Bowling Green. Failure to attend the orientation at ISO within 30 days after the start date that is listed on the DS-2019 form will result in complications in your visiting scholars’ immigration status.

 

Current J-1 Scholar Information

Provide Current Contact Information

It is required by the U.S. law that J-1 scholars must have a current local U.S. address. If you change your local address and/or any other contact information, you must report to the International Student Office within one week.

You must also provide an active email address and an U.S. phone number (either your personal or your host department).

12 - and 24 – Month Bars for Professors and Research Scholars

12-Month Bar

If you have been in the U.S. for more than six months in the previous year (12 months) in any J visa status, you are NOT eligible to enter the U.S. as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor for a 12-month period.

Time spent in the J-1 Short-term Scholar category does not count towards the 12-month bar. The 12- month bar applies to both the J-1 principal and any J-2 dependent. The 12-month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the U.S. in any other visa status or in some other J categories such as Short-term Scholar or Student.

 

24-Month Bar on Repeat Participation

Any individual who participates in an Exchange Visitor program in the Professor or Research Scholar categories on or after 11/18/2006 is subject to a 24-month bar “repeat participation” in those categories. Scholars subject to the bar may not return to the U.S. as a J-1 scholar in the Professor or Research Scholar categories for the 24-month period. This bar also applies to J-2 dependents.

When a scholar either concludes or leaves a Research Scholar or Professor J-1 program, whichever happens earlier, the scholar’s record becomes inactive in SEVIS. At that point, the 24-month bar time starts to accrue. The 24-month bar will be in effect regardless of whether status in the program is a few months in duration or the full five years allowed.

Therefore, it is extremely important for the International Student Office to be informed of a scholar’s departure and his/her future plans, so that the scholar’s SEVIS record can be properly maintained to facilitate his/her possible return to the U.S. In some cases, in might be possible to keep a scholar’s SEVIS record active if he/she will be out of the country yet continuing the program. We recommend contacting an advisor at the International Student Office to discuss a visitor’s plans and intention to return to the U.S. in the future so the SEVIS record may be correctly managed.

The 24-month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the U.S. in any other visa status.

 

24-Month Bar vs. the Two-Year Rule (212e)

If you have been in the U.S. for less than 6 months in the previous year (12 months):

 

Your previous visa type:                                                         

J-1 student non-degree:  No wait time

J-1 Student: No wait time

J-1 Research scholar/professor (1 day to 5 years): 24 months

J-1 Short term scholar: No wait time

J-1 Specialist: No wait time

 

If you have been in the U.S. for more than 6 months in your previous year (12 months):

Your previous visa type                                                          

J-1 Student non-degree: 12 months                                                                                   

J-1 Students: 12 months                                                                                        

J-1 Specialist: 12 months                                                                                        

J-1 Research scholar/professor (1 to 5 years): 24 months

J-2 Dependent of research scholar/professor: 24 months

J-2 Dependent of any J-1 category other than short term scholar: 12 months

Program Extensions

Duration of J-1 Status

Please pay close attention to the program expiration date on your DS-2019. If you wish to extend the program, you must contact the international student office to apply for program extension at least one month before the expiration date.

Eligibility for Extension

You are eligible to apply for an extension if:

  • Your DS-2019 has not yet expired
  • You are working toward the program objective described in section 4 of your most recent Form DS-2019
  • You are maintaining your current J-1 scholar status
  • You can demonstrate sufficient funding for the period of the proposed extension
  • You are currently maintaining and will continue to maintain health insurance coverage that meets J-1 requirements, and
  • Your extension will not carry you beyond five years in total status as a J-1 research or professor, or beyond six months total status as a J-1 short term scholar
  • You need to submit an extension request in iStart, and to provide updated invitation letter

Driver’s License and Social Security Information

Non-U.S. citizens can drive in the U.S. on their foreign country license and International Permit for up to one year from the date of admission into the U.S., if their home countries are on the list for the Foreign License Reciprocity. If you are from one of the non-Foreign License Reciprocity Countries, you must obtain a Kentucky driver’s license within 30 days.  Foreign License Reciprocity Country list HERE.

Non-US Citizens obtain a Kentucky driver’s license HERE.

If you need to apply for a KY driver’s license, please submit a Driver’s License Form on iStart. The International Student Office will process your request and provide detailed information on the application process.

Social Security Number for J-1 Scholar

What is a Social Security Number?

The Social Security Number (SSN) is a tax identification number that tracks employee salary in a payroll system. Social Security Numbers are issued by the International Revenue Service (IRS), which is the tax authority of the U.S. at birth for U.S. citizens. To be eligible to apply for a SSN, foreign nationals must be required to have one for a specific immigration status or as an employee onboarding requirement.

 

J-1 Scholars are eligible to apply for a SSN at any time, though note you should wait at least 10 days after you arrive in the U.S. to apply. You are considered a scholar if box 4 on your DS-2019 indicates either “Professor,” “Research Scholar,” “Short-Term Scholar,” or “Specialist.”

J-2 dependent spouses and children are also eligible to apply for social security numbers, after first applying for work authorization.

 

What Documents Are needed to Apply For A SSN?

  • Complete form SS-5 (https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf)
  • Unexpired passport
  • Unexpired DS-2019
  • Printout of current I-94 arrival/departure record
  • A stamped letter from the International Student Office

The next steps:

Bring all the documents to the U.S. Social Security office in Bowling Green, KY:

2724 Chandler Dr, Bowling Green, KY 42101

800-772-1213

Restrictions on Employment

 

J-1 scholars should not engage in any employment that is unrelated to their original program objectives. They are permitted to work only at the location(s) listed on the Form DS-2019.

 

J-2 Dependents

Who are considered as J-2 dependents?

J-1 spouse,

Unmarried children under the age of 21

Who may not be a J-2?

Parents, siblings, and boyfriend/girlfriends are not eligible for J-2 status

Financial Certification Requirements

J-1 must be able to demonstrate financial certification that meets minimum financial requirements. Funding for WKU requests must demonstrate a minimum of $500.00 per month for the spouse, and $250.00 per month for each child.

J-2 Visa Application at US Embassy/Consulate

 The applicant should present:

  • All pages of the SEVIS Dependent DS-2019 – signed by the J-1 visa holder
  • Financial documents to support sufficient funding required by WKU
  • Marriage license/birth certificate for children
  • Passport

J-2 Dependents Enter the U.S.

If you plan to bring any J-2 dependents with you to the United States, you must submit information about J-2 dependents during the J-1 application process.

J-2 dependents may not enter the U.S. unless the J-1 is in the U.S. or enter the U.S. with the dependents at the same time. It means that J-1 must arrive in the U.S. first.

Work Authorization for J-2 Visa Holders

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) permits J-2 visa holders to apply for employment authorization if the employment is not necessary for the financial support of the principal J-1 visa holder. The purpose for the J-2 dependent’s employment should be an interest or activity that might include maintaining oneself in his/her own profession, family travel, or other recreational or cultural activities.

The J-2 dependent may apply for employment authorization any time after arrival in the U.S. It can take several months to obtain the authorization, so the J-2 dependent may wish to apply early. The J-2 work authorization will be valid only for as long as the J-1 exchange visitor’s stay is valid.

Please see the USCIS website for the necessary form I-765, and instructions: https://www.uscis.gov/i-765. You can always contact ISO for any questions.

J-2 Dependent Frequently Asked Questions

When can my J-2 spouse and children come to the U.S.?

J-2 dependent may not enter the U.S. unless the J-1 is in the U.S. or accompanies the dependents. In other words, if a J-2 dependent enters separately from the J-1, the J-1 must arrive in the U.S. first.

 

What documents should a J-2 be prepared to present at the U.S. port of entry?

J-2 dependents should have a valid passport with a valid J-2 visa stamp. They should also have their own DS-2019 form and proof of the funding noted on the DS-2019.

 

How long can J-2s remain in the U.S.?

J-2 dependents are permitted to stay in the U.S. as long as the J-1 program is valid. If the J-1 is approved for an extension of his/her program, the status of the dependents is automatically extended.

 

How can a J-2 report an early departure, or early ending of J-2 status?

If a J-2 dependent decides to exit the U.S. and not return again in J-2 status, the final departure date should be reported to the International Student Office. Please email iso@wku.edu

 

Can J-2 dependents study?

Yes, J-2 dependents are eligible for part-time or full-time study at every level of education.

 

Can J-2 dependents work?

J-2 dependents are eligible to apply to USCIS for employment authorization so long as the employment is not for the purpose of supporting the J-1 principal participant. The J-2 dependent may begin employment only after receiving the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. This application must be filed by the J-2 dependent; The International Student Office can provide assistance with the application process.

 

Travel Check List for J-1/J-2

Travel within the U.S.:

It is important that you take your original passport and DS-2019 with you whenever you travel.

Travel outside the U.S.:

You may plan to travel outside the country during your J-1 scholar program. Please follow the instructions below to ensure a smooth trip:

Step 1: Get a travel signature

You and any J-1 dependents must have a valid travel signature on your Form DS-2019 to re-enter the United States. You need to bring your DS-2019 to ISO when you request a travel signature in iStart. Please submit this request at least one week before your travel date. Once your travel request is approved, you will receive an email from ISO.

 

If J-2 dependents will travel with you, you will also need to request a travel signature in iStart and bring their DS-2019 forms must also be signed. If J-2 dependents will not travel with you, and you will be outside the country for more than 30 days, please contact the International Student Office.

 

Step 2: Check your documents

Check your passport, visa, and DS-2019 to ensure that they will not expire while you are outside the country. If your passport will expire within six months, we recommend that you renew it.

 

Step 3: Request a visitor’s visa, if necessary

If you want to travel to a country other than your home country, you may need to apply for a visitor’s visa. You need to check for details on the Embassy/Consulate’s website.

 

Step 4: Plan for additional wait times

If your visa expires or you will need to apply for a new visa, the application process may take six weeks or longer. Please plan ahead and give yourself enough time when making travel arrangements.

Travel to Canada or Mexico:

If you are planning to travel to Canada or Mexico with an expired visa, please be sure to speak with an international Scholar Advisor first.  

 

 

H-1B Visa Information

H-1B Visa

H-1B visa is temporary employment authorization for a nonimmigrant who performs services in a specialty occupation. An employer may petition for an H-1B visa on your behalf if you hold “theoretical or technical expertise in a specialized fields.”

To qualify for H-1B status, you must have a bachelor’s degree or higher (or the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree). Training equivalent to completing a degree may also qualify you.

The H-1B visa is valid for three years, but you may be able to extend it to six years.  After six years in H-1B status, you must leave the U.S. for one year before an employer can file a new H-1B petition for you. The current or prospective employer of an F-1 student may petition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for an H-1B on that student’s behalf by filing Form I-129, “Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.” Filing on April 1 with a benefit that start date of October 1 may qualify you for an extension of status and/or employment authorization 

H-1B visa holders are not allowed to work on the jobs that are not listed on their H-1B petition. The employer, title, duties, and location of the job must match what the petition says. If the job changes, the employer must report and file a new H-1B petition.

Maintain Your H-1B Status

  • Maintain your valid passport and I-94 at all times
  • Must report an changes in your local address by completely filling out Form AR-11 HERE.

Completion or Termination of Employment

Your H-1B status ends when you complete your work that is associate with your H-1B petition. After you complete your work, you may choose one of the following options:

  • File a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to extend your H-1B status
  • File a petition with USCIS to change to another visa category
  • Or plan to leave the U.S. immediately

 

For additional information on H-1B status, please visit the following USCIS websites:

  • H-1B Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project HERE
  • Form I-129 HERE
  • Understanding H-1B requirements HERE

H-4 Dependents

 

Who are eligible for H-4 visa status?

Your spouse and unmarried children who are under age of 21 

Can H-4 dependent study?

H-4 dependents can study full time or part time

Can H-4 dependent spouse work?

Certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrant can file Form I-765. Please read details from USCIS website HERE

 

B-1/B-2 Visa Information

B1/B2 Visa

When you plan to come to Western Kentucky University for a short-term visit, you must obtain a visa. You may apply for B1 visa (a business visa) if your trip is affiliated with the University. If you plan to come to the U.S. for a vacation, you may apply for B2 visa (a tourist visa). If you plan to visit the United States for business and vacation purposes, you may apply for B-1/B-2 visa as a combination. 

If your country is on the list of the Visa Waiver Program, you can receive WB (Waived Business) or WT (Waived Tourist) status. As a result, you do not need to receive a visa to enter the United States.

B-1/B-2 visitors may not work or study in the United Sates

Further information about B-1/B-2 visa, please check U.S. Department State website HERE

or U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services website HERE

  

The General Counsel at WKU provides assistance to all WKU related H-1 B, B-1/B-2, and other types of visa questions.  Please contact the WKU General Counsel office 270-745-5398, https://www.wku.edu/gc/

 

 

To schedule an appointment,  please call: 270-745-4857, Visit ISO or  email ISO at iso@wku.edu.

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 Last Modified 5/7/18