Fulbright J1 Visa Information and Fulbright Waiver

When you or your adviser are filling out the forms and arranging the paperwork for your visit, be careful about the Fulbright J-1 visa. My DS-2019 lists “student non-degree” under the “Exchange Visitor Category”, which caused some trouble at my host University. This fact led to quite a confusion, since for me to stay in USA with this status, my host institution had to enlist me as a student.

Some universities (Harvard, MIT) have a special category for Fulbright research visitors, but mine didn’t. This meant that I had to be at Northeastern as an official enlisted student, which is ok. The difficulty is that the IIE usually doesn’t cover the tuition (for visiting researchers) or at least it didn’t for mine. If the tuition is not waived by the institution, or somebody (your adviser) voluntarily pays it, it comes out of your pocket. It’s never less than a couple grand … When this is arranged, you will experience almost two semesters of what it means to be enlisted in your chosen institution! You most likely won’t experience this but just in case – be aware. Check it with your hosting institution.

Fulbright J-1 visa

One thing everybody should be aware of before applying for the Fulbright Scholarship is that most probably you won’t be allowed to apply for US permanent residence before two years after the end of your Fulbright Scholarship. These are official words that describe this requirement: “As stated on the second page of your DS-2019, upon the expiration of your Exchange Visitor (J-visa) status, you are required to reside in your home country for two years before you may apply for an immigrant visa or for permanent residence in the U.S. The Fulbright Program requires you to return to your home country at the conclusion of your authorized activities in the U.S.”

Fulbright Visa Forms

I am not sure if the following information applies to all countries, so check with your U.S. Embassy just to be sure. The forms are listed (with download links) here: 

  1. http://slovenia.usembassy.gov/visa_forms.html.

The forms I had to fill in were: 156, 157, 158 (downloadable) and DS-2019 (which you should already have received through snail mail). The required data is only basic (you had listed all of this before in your application). Additionally, an undamaged passport and a photo of the size 5x5cm is required. Return the forms with photo and picture to your U.S. Embassy consul and he will do the rest. J-1 visa usually costs approx. €100, but as a Fulbrighter, you get it for free. The visa is ready in a couple of days and you should pick up your passport together with the DS-2019 at the U.S. Embassy. From now on, hold on to both, since they’re your most important belongings during the Fulbright stay (passport and DS-2019).

Fulbright Stolen or lost passport or DS-2019

If stolen or lost (passport, DS-2019, Form I-94) there is a procedure you have to follow: Instructions on how to act in case of a stolen passport or DS-2019.


  1. If you get accepted into a phd program can you stay on with a j1 visa?

    • PhDfriend

      March 27, 2014 at 10:57 pm

      In general, Fulbrighters on a J1 visa have to return to their country after the end of the scholarship. However, some waive this clause and stay. As for PhD program students, there are different visas that might be more suitable than a J1. Contact your local embassy for qualified answer.

  2. Hi there,
    I was Fulbright j1 the last two years. I’m currently contracted by UCSF for 2 more years, but I really would like to get the waiver, so I could stay here longer, since I’m doing really interesting work. Is there any way or tips so I can try to get the waiver?

    • PhDfriend

      April 14, 2014 at 9:11 am

      Unfortunately, I have no experience with J1 waiving. You should talk to your Fulbright representative (local and US). Sorry 😐

  3. Hi, my husband went to U.S on J2 status spending 10days in U.S then left U.S. Almost at the same time he got the sholarship from Fulbright. Can he transfer from J2 to J1 ? Can he get the DS2019 from Fulbright? The university issued him J2 has terminated his J2 for he would apply J1.Thank you.

    • Hi Ying,

      Unfortunately, I have no experience with J2 status, but I think this is an issue for your Embassy. They deal with such issues. Good luck!

  4. Hello Dear,
    I am new Fulbright foreign student and during the long application and placement waiting period, your posts were the mandatory guide for me.
    Thank you very much.
    Wish the best for you.

  5. I want to know if I can make two years of residence of the J-1 visa cumulative?

  6. Hi, I participated in a Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program in 2017, and returned to my home county after the program ended. Due to my J1 visa I am now subject to 2 years home residency requirement.
    I am planning to get married in the US. Am I eligible to apply for a J1 waiver to cancel the rule?

    • phdfriend

      November 10, 2017 at 11:22 am

      Hi, I am not an expert in immigration law, however, I propose you try. Get more info at your embassy. Good luck with marriage and visa 🙂

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