J1 Exchange Visitor Program


The J-1 Exchange Visitor category was developed to implement the Mutual Education and Cultural Exchange Act. Its purpose is to increase mutual understanding between people of the United States and people of other countries through education and cultural exchanges.

MTSU's Exchange Visitor Program provides opportunities for study, research, and teaching.


Degree Programs
Students in degree programs are permitted an overall limit of 18 months, which includes all academic training, whether before or after completion of studies. The total training period may not exceed the amount of time spent in the full course of study.

Postdoctoral Training
Postdoctoral training after completion of a U.S. degree the overall limit is 36 months. A new DS-2019 will be issued for the second 18 months.

Non-degree Program
Students in a prescribed course of study in a non-degree program, the total stay is limited to a maximum of 24 months, inclusive of all study time and any authorized academic training.

Health Insurance Requirements

You must maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and your J-2 dependents during the entire time you participate in an Exchange Visitor Program. Insurance coverage must meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of State or backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the Exchange Visitor's home country shall be deemed to meet the requirement.

Required coverage for students and dependents includes:

  • Medical benefits of at least 100,000 per person
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000;
  • Medical Evacuation to the country of permanent residence in the amount of $50,000

It is your responsibility to renew the insurance coverage for your dependent(s) during their stay. If you fail to maintain insurance coverage or misrepresent to the J-1 Program Sponsor will be considered in violation of the University Rules and will be subject to termination as an Exchange Visitor participant. View the Health Insurance Information.

If you would like, you may contact the insurance company many of our international students use for a quote on an acceptable policy, Lewermark

Once you have your insurance purchased, you will need to fill out the Insurance Certification Form and bring it to Jones Hall 152 as part of your check-in procedure.

English Language Proficiency Requirement

One of the following forms of documentation must be submitted with your application to provide proof of English language proficiency:

  • TOEFL - computer-based minimum score of 195, paper-based minimum score of 525, or IBT minimum score of 71
  • IELTS - minimum overall score of 6
  • UMELI - minimum score of 85
  • ELS - Level 112 Certificate of Completion
  • Two semesters of college-level composition courses, with a minimum grade of "C" or better, each semester, from an accredited US college or university.
  • Undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited four year US college or university.

All test scores and/or transcripts must be official, issued directly by the institution granting them.

The Two-year Home Country Requirement

There are three grounds on which your status as an exchange visitor can become subject to the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 212(e):

  • If your participation in an exchange program was financed, directly or indirectly by the United States government or a foreign government.
  • If the skills that you are develop or exercise while in the U.S. are in a field that the exchange visitor's "home" government considers to be in short supply, and thus has been included on the State Department skills list.
  • If you came to the United States to receive "graduate medical education or training."

If you fall into one of these groups, you are subject to the two-year home country requirement (212)(e), even if your source of funding or field of study changes. If the principal J-1 is subject to the two-year residence requirement, all dependents who enter the U.S. in J-2 status are subject to it as well.

Waiver of the Home Residence Requirement

If you are an exchange visitor, you may apply for a waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement for the following five statutory bases:

  • A claim of Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child of an exchange visitor if the exchange visitor is required to return to the country of residence;
  • A claim that the participant will be persecuted due to race, religion, or political opinions if he/she returns to the country of residence;
  • A request from an interested US Government Agency on the participant's behalf;
  • A No Objection Statement from your government; and
  • A request by a designated State Health Department or its equivalent.

Please see the following for more information: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1296.html.

Academic Training

A J-1 student may participate in an academic training program during his or her studies, without wages or other remuneration, with the approval of the Academic Dean or Advisor and the Responsible Officer. A student may be authorized to participate in academic training programs for wages or other remuneration during his or her studies or commencing not later than thirty (30) days after completion of studies.

J-1 Academic Training is authorized by your J-1 program sponsor. To apply for Academic Training, you must know who represents your J-1 sponsor and issued your DS-2019 form. If Middle Tennessee State University is your sponsor, the advisers at IA will evaluate your application and authorize your Academic Training.

All academic training is counted as full time, even if employment is on a part-time basis.

MTSU Visiting Scholar Check-In Process

  1. Check in with ISSS
    • No appointment is needed. Bring the following documents to Jones Hall 152, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm (except during campus holidays). If you have any dependents with you, we will need their documents, as well.
  2. Check in with your department
    • They will let you know your MTSU M-Number, usually 24-48 hours after you check in with ISSS.
  3. Provide your local address to ISSS
  4. BlueID
    • Once you have your MTSU M-Number, you can go to  the Student Services Building (SSAC), Room 112 to get your MTSU BlueID
    • This ID will be used to provide access to various resources around campus, including the Library and Recreation Center
  5. Social Security Card
    • Only if you are being paid by MTSU, you will need to apply for a Social Security Card. Please wait two weeks after checking in with ISSS before applying at the Social Security Office.
    • Someone from your department should assist you in getting to the Social Security Office. You will need your passport, visa, DS-2019, I-94, and MTSU BlueID.
    • Your department should also provide a hiring letter, on department letterhead, which would need to accompany you, as well.
  6. Stay in contact with ISSS for events and activities while you are here at MTSU
    • Make sure we have your email address so we can notify you when we have events planned for you and your dependents.
    • Contact us if you have any questions regarding MTSU and Middle Tennessee.

Additional Information Links

Undergraduate 2023-2024 Catalog


International Student Viewbook


Tuition and Fees




Programs & Curriculum


Living on Campus


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