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The purpose of the J-1 visa is to increase mutual understanding and strengthen ties between the U.S. and other countries through educational and cultural exchanges. Every year UNC-Chapel Hill sponsors several hundred exchange visitors for full-time, temporary activities that include research, teaching, and observing.

At the time of appointment, the expectation is that the exchange visitor will return home upon completion of the activity.

J-1 status can be obtained more easily and quickly than other UNC-CH sponsored visa categories, although plans to sponsor a J-1 exchange visitor should begin at least 3 months in advance of the proposed start date to allow for document preparation and visa processing.

The following workflows provide an overview of the J-1 Exchange Visitor process at UNC-Chapel Hill.


New J-1 Exchange Visitor Request Workflow

J-1 Exchange Visitor Extension Request Workflow


The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Playbook provides in-depth guidance on the J-1 Exchange Visitor process at UNC-Chapel Hill.


ISSS Submission Timelines

The J-1 Exchange Visitor process involves reviews and clearances from multiple University offices (Human Resources, Export Control, and Science & Security) prior to submission to ISSS.  Hosting Units can review guidance for each of these units here:

Designated Hosting Unit Contacts, who have completed the ISSS Portal Training, can submit J-1 Exchange Visitor requests through the ISSS Portal.  As shown in the workflows above, Hosting Units may initiate New J-1 EV requests and J-1 EV Extension/Update requests in the ISSS Portal while waiting on Export Control and Science & Security clearances, but must upload the clearances prior to final submission.  The ISSS submission timeline for J-1 requests are below:

  • New J-1 EV Requests must be submitted to ISSS at least 3 months prior to the prospective program start date.
    • Submission timeline includes:
      • ISSS processing time
      • Time needed to schedule visa appointment at U.S. Consulate
      • Time it takes to obtain visa stamp
      • Time needed to make travel arrangements to U.S.
      • In some cases, exchange visitors experience delays in visa processing due to U.S. government security reviews.
  • J-1 EV Update Requests must be submitted to ISSS at least 2 months prior to the program end date or the proposed update start date, whichever is sooner.

*Hosting Units should factor in additional lead time for the clearances needed prior to ISSS submission.*


Additional Resources:

Export Compliance and Science and Security Form