J-1 Scholar Orientation


The U.S. Department of State requires us, as your program sponsor, to provide you with an orientation program. After you attend the orientation and complete your arrival and insurance eForms in myIO, an International Faculty & Scholar Advisor will validate your arrival in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) database. This validation notifies the Department of Homeland Security that you have arrived and begun your J-1 exchange visitor program and changes your SEVIS record to “ACTIVE” status. Failure to attend orientation and have your SEVIS record validated may result in future immigration complications as well as problems obtaining a Social Security Number.

Orientation Sessions

Please attend the J-1 Scholar Orientation as soon as possible after you arrive in Austin. Orientation sessions are held virtually on Mondays at 2:00 p.m. and typically last about one hour. To view the available orientation sessions and schedule your appointment, please login to myIO. You should complete the J-1 Scholar Arrival e-form in myIO prior to attending J-1 Orientation.

We conduct orientation in a group setting, so please be on time for the zoom call. If you arrive after orientation has started, you will be asked to reschedule for another session.

Topics Covered at Orientation

  • Immigration Status
  • Medical and evacuation/repatriation insurance, and University Health Services
  • Employment
  • U.S. tax information
  • Obtaining a Texas Driver's License, University Identification card (UT ID), and U.S. Social Security Number
  • Intercultural and family programs
  • Local transportation and shopping options to consider
  • Services provided by ISSS

Your J-2 dependent family members are welcome to attend the orientation with you if space permits; however, the J-1 Faculty/Scholar is the only one who is required to attend. If your family members do not accompany you to orientation, please remember to upload their documents and insurance through myIO.

Key Terms

In addition to attending orientation, ISSS recommends that you review the documents on the J-1 Visa Page to help you understand your rights and responsibilities while in the United States and become familiar with the following key terms:


The U.S. Department of State designates sponsors to administer individual Exchange Visitor programs. Sponsors are U.S. organizations such as government agencies, academic institutions, educational and cultural organizations, and corporations. They screen and select Exchange Visitors participating in their programs, provide them with pre-arrival information and an orientation, and monitor their activities. Sponsors offer Exchange Visitors cross-cultural activities that will expose them to American society, culture, and institutions. Exchange Visitors are encouraged to participate in activities that provide them with an opportunity to share their language, culture and history with others.

Responsible Officers

Sponsors appoint individuals as Responsible Officers and Alternation Responsible Officers to advise and assist Exchange Visitors. These officers have authority to issue the Certificate of Eligibility (DS-2019) to Exchange Visitors and communicate with the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security on their behalf.

Exchange Visitors

An Exchange Visitor is a foreign national selected by a sponsor to participate in an exchange program, and is issued a DS-2019 to apply for a J-1 visa. An accompanying spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 may apply for J-2 visas, with the permission of your sponsor.

Rules and Regulations

You must understand and abide by the Exchange Visitor Program regulations, U.S. laws and sponsor rules. Regular contact with your Responsible Officer will help you keep current of any changes which may affect your J status.

Activities and Program Provisions

You will enter the United States in one program category and will be required to engage in that category and subject/field of activity listed on your DS-2019. You must comply with the specific program provisions of the regulations relating to your program category.

Maintenance of Status

You are required to have a valid and unexpired DS-2019. Sponsors may terminate an Exchange Visitor's program for violating U.S. laws, Exchange Visitor Program regulations, or the sponsor's rules governing their particular program.


You must inform your Responsible Officer if you change your address or telephone number, or complete or withdraw from your program early. Doing so assists your sponsor in reporting current information to the U.S. Department of State.

Contact Information

U.S. Department of State

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation
301 Fourth Street, SW Room 734
Washington, DC 20547