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Overview of the J-1 Scholar Program at W&M

William & Mary values the exchange of ideas, people, research, and culture as central to its mission of furthering human knowledge and understanding.

Aligned with this mission, the Office of International Students, Scholars & Programs (ISSP) administers the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program at W&M and VIMS. Through the W&M Exchange Visitor Program, we bring students and scholars from around the world to advance the internationalization of learning, teaching, research and community engagement at W&M and to promote mutual understanding among people of diverse backgrounds.

W&M and VIMS hosts over 100 J-1 scholars each year. Some comes as visiting professors or post-doctoral researchers, while others are language house fellows, academics on sabbatical, and professionals collaborating on projects with W&M and VIMS faculty members.

Administered at the national level by the Department of State and at the institutional level by the Reves Center for International Studies, the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program may be used by the university to invite or employ foreign professors, researchers, short-term scholars and specialists in the United States on a temporary basis. An invitation by an academic department or unit is required for J-1 sponsorship.

English Language requirement: J-1 Exchange Visitors must have a sufficient command of English to conduct their program in the U.S.

Education requirement: Those sponsored for a scholar category must have a bachelor's degree or functional equivalent.

Possible J-1 Scholar Appointments

Research Scholar
An individual primarily conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project or plan, who may also teach or lecture unless disallowed by the host.

Maximum length of stay: 5 years

Example: Post doctoral research associate, visiting scientist, scholar-in-residence, graduate student coming for thesis research

An individual primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting, who may also conduct research unless disallowed by the host.

Maximum length of stay: 5 years

Example: Visiting professor or instructor, Language House Fellow

Short-term Scholar
An individual who comes to the university for short-term academic exchange for the purpose of lecturing, consulting, or research.

Maximum length of stay: 6 months

Example: Short term researcher or instructor/professor, adjunct visiting professor 

An individual who is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill, coming to the U.S. for observing, consulting, or demonstrating special skills.

Maximum length of stay: 1 year

Example: Curator, Artist-in-Residence, Visiting Coach or Trainer

Types of Positions Most Commonly used for J-1 Status
  • Post-doctoral research associates
  • Visiting professors
  • Researchers (including graduate students coming for dissertation/thesis research) and scientists
  • Curators, artists

Because it directly contradicts the intent of the classification, the J-1 Exchange Visitor category may not be used for the following types of positions:

  • Permanent or long term academic or non-academic staff positions
  • Tenure-track or tenured faculty appointments

J-1 scholars may enroll in courses for credit on a part-time basis. At the discretion of the program, school or department, they may audit as many courses, provided it does not interfere with the primary purpose of research or teaching for which the DS-2019 was issued. If the scholar wishes to begin a degree program full time, they must first be approved for a change of category or change of status.