Exchange Visitors Program


Administered by the U.S. Department of State, the purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges. This program provides foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in exchange programs in the United States and then return home to share their experiences.

What are exchange visitors?
Exchange visitors are foreign nationals selected by a sponsor to participate in an exchange program. They are issued J-1 visas. With the permission of the sponsor, a visitor's accompanying spouse and any unmarried children under 21 years of age may apply for J-2 visas.

What are sponsors?
The U.S. Department of State requires sponsors to administer individual exchange visitor programs. Sponsors are organizations such as government agencies, academic institutions, educational and cultural organizations including BYU, and corporations.

What do I need to know and do to become an exchange visitor at BYU?

  • Program Categories
    • Students—for the duration of program of studies
    • Short-Term Scholars—for up to six months
    • Specialists—for up to 12 months
    • Professors—for up to 60 months
    • Research Scholars—for up to 60 months
  • Eligibility Requirements
    • Commitment to abide by the Church Educational System Honor Code
    • Eligibility of exchange visitors to enter/remain in the U.S. in “J” immigration status. more
    • Department needs
    • Educational credentials
    • Research experience
    • Available funding (majority of program funding must be provided by a sponsor)
  • Rules and Regulations: Participants must abide by the Exchange Visitor (EV) Program regulations, U.S. laws and sponsor rules. Some are listed below.
    • Participation
      • EVs are required to engage in the category and subject/field of activity listed on their DS-2019s.
      • EVs are encouraged to voluntarily participate in activities that provide them with an opportunity to share their language, culture, and history with Americans.
    • Insurance
      • EVs are required to have medical insurance in effect for themselves and any dependents in “J” status for the duration of their program.
      • Some sponsors provide the required insurance for their participants. Other sponsors may allow visitors to make their own arrangements or may help to identify insurance carriers.
      • Exchange visitors employed by BYU will receive automatic insurance coverage. more
    • Two-year Home Country Physical Presence
      • Many EVs are required by law to return to their home countries for a period of two years before they may be allowed to reenter the United States in a “L”, “H”, or “PR” status.
      • If a visitor has received funding from either his/her government or the United States government, or if his/her government has informed the United States government that it needs individuals with that visitor's particular professional skills, then that visitor is probably subject to this requirement.
      • If the visitor will visit International Services with all of his/her immigration documents, staff there would be pleased to inform him/her whether they may be subject to this requirement.
      • In very special circumstances, a waiver of this requirement may be obtained. This is a complicated topic, however, and consultation with International Services is advised. more
  • Selection of Exchange Visitors
    • Working in consultation with BYU’s academic departments and International Admissions, International Services screens and selects the exchange visitors who participate in our programs. We also provide pre-arrival information, an orientation, and monitoring of visitor's activities.
    • Specific information about available Exchange Visitor Programs at BYU, the selection process, duties, duration, etc. can only obtained through the various sponsoring university departments.
      • There is no central clearinghouse of information.
      • Make inquiries directly to the colleges and/or their departments; they will involve International Services in the process.

Government Exchange Visitor Information

Further information can be requested through e-mail at or by phone at 801-422-2695.