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J-1 Host Faculty Guide

Thank You for Hosting a J-1 Exchange Visitor!

This guide is designed to provide you with the most important information you’ll need to help your J-1 exchange visitor have a safe and productive time at Cornell, while helping Cornell maintain compliance requirements.

Office of Global Learning International Services

Cornell University has been designated by the U.S. State Department of as an exchange visitor program sponsor since 1950. Our office is responsible for compliance with federal program regulations.

The J-1 exchange visitor visa is the most common visa category for academic staff at Cornell. We are currently authorized to host J-1 professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, and students.

Please take a look around! Our website has a wealth of information about J-1 exchange visitors. We are also happy to advise you or your visitors in person.

J-1 Visitor Arrival and Status Activation

Your department's human resources representative will provide your J-1 visitor with information about his or her workspace, email account, Cornell ID card, computer, and university and departmental hiring procedures. Your human resources representative will arrange an onboarding appointment, if one is required.

J-1 visitors are also required to complete the required status activation and orientation process with the Office of Global Learning.

We have issued your exchange visitor a DS-2019 form with a specific program start date. If the exchange visitor does not arrive, report to Cornell University, and complete the required status activation process within 30 days of the program start date, the J-1 exchange visitor’s status in the SEVIS federal database auto-terminates.

If your visitor is delayed in his or her arrival, please notify us. If you do not, your visitor’s legal status in the United States may be compromised.


Cornell exchange visitors often find their own housing through on-line platforms, such as Airbnb or Craigslist, before they arrive. Here are some other resources you can recommend:

English Language Requirement

J-1 regulations require proof of sufficient English language knowledge before an exchange visitor is invited to participate in a J-1 program. Find out more about the requirement and method for certifying English proficiency.

If you are a non-native English speaker and are hiring someone who speaks your language, please understand that U.S. Department of State regulations require our exchange visitors to have enough English fluency to comfortably navigate grocery stores, transportation, and doctor and hospital visits.

If your visitor arrives and is not able to function outside your lab or facility, he or she may not be able to continue in the exchange program.

Health and Accident Insurance Requirement

Government regulations mandate that all J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents have health and accident insurance. Find out more about the insurance requirement.

Fostering a Safe and Inclusive Environment

As part of its commitment to diversity and inclusion, Cornell is making a concerted effort to ensure that our community can identify potential acts of sexual violence and knows who to contact and consult about it.

All new employees are required to take the online course HR300. This course addresses how to respond should faculty or staff learn a member of our community has experienced any type of sexual violence or stalking. It also lets faculty and staff know how to file a complaint. The course takes less than an hour and must be completed within 30 days of the start of employment.

Taxes and Social Security Number

In general, foreign nationals earning any money in the United States must file a tax return, even if their earnings are below the minimum established annually by the IRS. Encourage your J-1 visitors to determine their tax status by contacting Payroll.

Employment Limitations

J-1 exchange visitors may work at Cornell in the position described on their DS-2019 form. They are not permitted to receive compensation from another employer or for a different Cornell job.

Occasional off-campus lecturing or consulting (as measured by days, rather than weeks, months, or semesters) may be allowed if it contributes to their original purpose in coming to Cornell University, but a letter of permission must be obtained from the Office of Global Learning before such work can be undertaken.

Accepting compensation for a service without appropriate work authorization is a very serious violation of legal status in the United States. Find out more.

Employment and Education of Dependents

J-2 visa holders (spouses and children under 21) may request employment authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services after entering the United States. This authorization is not guaranteed.

Public education is free of charge for children enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12. The school year starts in early September and ends in late June. Children in the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) must be five years old, or turn five no later than December 1, to be able to enroll at the start of the school year.

Visit the ICSD website for information about enrolling children in an Ithaca public school. 


Ithaca employees may use their Cornell ID card to ride local TCAT buses Monday through Friday for free.

New York State honors all valid foreign drivers' licenses with a certified English translation. J-1 scholars may wish to apply for a New York State driver's license. Find out more.