International applicants who desire to come to UW and the Department of Genome Sciences as a postdoctoral fellow will need to have a professor sponsor their visit. In order to determine the status, prospective scholars must interview with a lab to find an appropriate Genome Sciences mentor to work with.
Please do not make travel arrangements until you have received instructions from the Administrative office in our Department, have your official documents in hand, and have made your appointment with the US Consulate or Embassy. It can sometimes take several months to get an appointment! If you make travel arrangements first, you may find that your Consulate appointment date is delayed, and the airline will not issue a refund.
Once you have negotiated your visa application, travel to Seattle, and attendance at your various orientation sessions, you can settle into your routine as an international scholar in the Department of Genome Sciences. We hope that your visit will prove rewarding, both professionally and personally.
During your stay here it will be important for you to maintain contact with the International Scholars Organization (ISO). ISO will help to provide you with immigration advising for maintaining your legal status.
Follow this list to help prepare for your arrival at Genome Sciences:
1. Receive your employment invitation documents
Before applying for your visa stamp, make sure you have the appropriate employment authorization document:
F-1 OPT/OPT: EAD or I-20 authorization, respectively
Pay SEVIS Fee
H-1B: I-797 Approval Notice
TN: Employment offer letter (Canadian TN persons will not need visa stamps, but they will need this document to apply for admission)
2. Understand your J-1 category
If you are a prospective J-1 Exchange Visitor, make sure you understand the limitations of your J-1 category:
You have been assigned a J-1 “category of participation,” based on the nature and duration of your activity at the UW. This category is indicated in item 4 of your DS-2019 and should not be confused with your UW academic appointment title. Exchange visitor categories available to international scholars at the UW include: Professor, Research Scholar, and Short-Term Scholar. Your activities in the US must remain consistent with your category. You will not be able to change your category after you have entered the US.
12 and 24 month “bars” on repeat participation. Time spent in the US as a J-1 or J-2 might affect your eligibility for future J-1 status. The 12 and 24 month “bars” apply only to persons beginning an Exchange Visitor program in the categories of Research Scholar or Professor.
Program duration and extension of stay. The duration of your program is stated in item 3 of the DS-2019. ISO has the discretion to extend your program participation to the limit allowed by law (up to five years for persons in the Professor and Research Scholar categories, up to six months for persons in the Short-Term Scholar category, up to one year for persons in the Specialist category, and up to one year for persons in the Student Intern category). To request an extension, the sponsoring academic department submits the UW J Visa Request Form. ISO then issues a new DS-2019 reflecting the extension.
Following completion of the program, you are no longer in J status. However, immigration law allows a 30-day “grace period” beyond the program completion date to settle your affairs and return home. During the grace period employment is not permitted and if you depart the US you cannot return in J status.
3. Apply for your visa
Step 1: Schedule a visa appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate
Step 2: Gather all of your documents for the visa interview
Step 3: Review tips to remember when applying for a nonimmigrant status
4. Enroll in Healthcare coverage
Before arriving in Seattle:
Purchase Medical evacuation and repatriation insurance BEFORE YOU ARRIVE!
It is not only unwise to be in the US without adequate health insurance, for J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents it is also illegal. You and your family are required by federal law to have sickness and accident insurance for the duration of your program. Minimum coverage must provide medical benefits, a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness, expenses associated with the medical evacuation to the home country, and repatriation of remains.
Repatriation of remains- $25,000
Medical evacuation- $50,000
International SOS offers a policy that provides medical evacuation and repatriation benefits only.
Keep in mind that the health insurance requirements also pertain to your family members.
Exchange Visitors are often able to obtain inexpensive international travel insurance in their home country. In the US, many insurance companies offer policies designed for Exchange Visitors, but benefits vary and policy details are often available only in English. It is important that you consider what type of coverage is needed and who will be included on the plan. For example, some policies cost less because they do not provide coverage for J-2 dependents. Some policies exclude coverage for pregnancies, or coverage for care received in the home country. Before choosing a plan, carefully consider your personal and family health needs.
Verify with your PI who will be responsible for payment of the insurance premiums (you or UW- this will depend on your funding and if you have questions please ask!).
There are many insurance providers both within and outside the US, including those listed below. It is possible to enroll in most insurance plans by completing an on-line registration form, using a credit card for payment. The policies listed below do not represent an endorsement by the UW. You are solely responsible for procuring and maintaining suitable health insurance.
Statement of Compliance
5. Make Housing Arrangements
Please see the housing moving and relocation page for more information.
6. Prepare to Enter the U.S.
Review your passport and visa page. Your first/given name and last/family name should be the same on both documents. If there are any errors, contact our office immediately. Place your original passport, financial statement or support letter, and employment documents in your purse or carry-on baggage to present to the inspector upon entering the U.S.
7. Register with the UW International Scholars Organization
All new international scholars (including postdocs and visitors) must visit UW's International Scholars Organization (ISO) upon arrival in the U.S. Registration is required for ALL new scholars who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. Please make sure to provide us with your contact information (address, phone number, and email address) in Seattle. A failure to check in with ISO within 30 days of your program start date could have serious consequences. Review this information carefully, and contact ISO if you have questions.
Federal law requires that J-1 Exchange Visitors report in person to their program sponsor within 30 days of the start date indicated in item 3 of the DS-2019.
You must visit ISO in Gerberding Hall, Room 239, so that your arrival on campus can be reported to the government as required by law.
Check-in is conducted every Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. and every Thursday at 10:00 a.m., followed by a one-hour presentation of information.
Please bring the following documents, depending on your status:
F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)
I-94 Arrival/Departure Card
Employment Authorization Card (EAD)
J-1 Exchange Visitor
Dependent(s) documents (if applicable)
NOTE: Failure to register may result in the termination of your SEVIS record and/or loss of your J-1 status.
H-1B Temporary Specialty Worker
Dependent(s) documents (if applicable)
TN: Trade NAFTA
I-94 Arrival/Departure Card
**For all Change of Status bring your I-797 Approval Notice.
Required Check-In with International Scholars Operations: https://ap.washington.edu/iso/jcheckin
The Difference Between Visa and Status
It is common to confuse the terms visa and I-94/non-immigrant status. Yet you will need to clearly know the difference in order to understand your rights and responsibilities while in the United States.
Remember, both visas and statuses are specific to the primary purpose of your application for admission to the U.S. and the duration of your visit. Your non-immigrant status determines which rules you will need to follow once in the U.S.
The I-94 status, also known as a non-immigrant status, defines the terms under which non-citizen visitors can temporarily reside in the U.S. Your I-94 can be accessed through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
Each I-94 status has a set of regulations that govern the activities of international visitors. I-94 status imposes both rights and responsibilities.
Your rights include:
The right to be in the U.S. as long as you continue to pursue your primary purpose.
Various rights in support of your primary purpose.
The right to all federal, state, and local legal protections.
Also, an I-94 status requires you to fulfill certain responsibilities.
Your responsibilities include:
Fully complying with the general laws of the U.S.
Focusing on your primary purpose by complying with regulations that govern activities in your particular I-94 status.
After completing your primary purpose, leaving the U.S. or applying for a Change of Status to reflect a new primary purpose.
All internationals are issued an I-94 status upon entry into the U.S. An I-94 Arrival/Departure Record, a small white card, will be stapled into your passport (see image below). This is most commonly called the "I-94 card." The I-94 card is documentary evidence for non-immigrant status.
Because the U.S. government has no jurisdiction outside of the country, you cannot have an I-94 status anywhere else but in the United States. So when you leave, an immigration officer (or airline representative) will open your passport and take back the I-94 card; thereby taking back your I-94 status (if you plan to return soon to resume your primary purpose, your non-immigrant status usually can be activated again upon reentry).
A U.S. visa is an official authorization affixed to a valid passport, granting permission to request entry into the U.S. in that particular non-immigrant classification.
See a list of I-94/ non-immigrant visa status categories commonly found at UC San Diego.
A visa must be shown at the port of entry to the U.S. to gain admission with I-94 status. Once in the U.S., you will not need a visa until the next time you wish to enter the U.S.
Think of your visa as a key. Like a key, you will only use your visa to "open the door" and enter. Once in, you do not use your key until you leave and need to re-enter.
Only a U.S. Consulate can issue visas to enter the country. Consulates may have offices in a U.S. Embassy or they may have their own stand-alone offices; they are always located outside of the U.S. Therefore, you can only apply for a visa if you are outside of the U.S.
At a U.S. port of entry (such as an airport) you must show your visa to an officer from the Department of Homeland Security. By presenting your visa, you are applying for the related I-94 status.
Important information for all visa holders:
For J-1 Scholars, please visit the UW International Scholars Organization’s J-1 Reference Guide: https://ap.washington.edu/iso/jfirst.html
Health Insurance Requirements: http://ap.washington.edu/ahr/international-scholars/visa-holder-resources/j1/#Healthcare_and_Insurance
For H-1B Scholars, please visit the UW International Scholars Organization’s H-1B Reference Guide: https://ap.washington.edu/iso/H-1B_first.html
For TN Scholars, please visit the UW International Scholars Organization’s TN Reference Guide: https://ap.washington.edu/iso/tnfirst.html
I-94 Arrival/ Departure Record: https://ap.washington.edu/iso/i94.html
Tax Information for International Scholars: http://ap.washington.edu/ahr/international-scholars/visa-holder-resources/tax-info/
Leaving the UW: Important visa and tax information: https://ap.washington.edu/iso/leavingUW
Change of address
Report your address (where you live in Seattle, not where you work) to ISO at the scheduled check-in session.
Report any change of address to ISO within ten days of the change.
Failure to report a change of address may result in revocation of your exchange visitor status.
Don’t let your DS-2019 expire
This document allows you to apply for a visa, to enter or re-enter the US, and establishes your legal eligibility to remain in the US.
The DS-2019 must remain valid at all times.
The duration of your program is stated in item 3 of your DS-2019.
Request a new form prior to the current form’s expiration date.
To request an extension, contact your sponsoring academic department.
Keep every DS-2019 for your permanent record.
Don’t let your passport expire
Your passport must be valid at all times.
Keep it and other important documents in a safe place.
Report a lost or stolen passport to the police, as your government may require a police report before issuing a new passport.
To renew or replace your passport, contact your country’s consulate in the US.
While in the US, always carry with you a photocopy of your passport’s identity page, and a photocopy of your DS-2019.
When traveling, carry the original documents, but guard them carefully against theft.
Work only with authorization
J-1 Exchange Visitors may receive compensation for the employment stated in item 5 on the DS-2019.
Additionally, occasional lectures or short-term consultations that involve wages or other remuneration may be authorized by ISO on a case-by-case basis.
The occasional lectures or consultations must be authorized in advance and in writing.
Dependents in J-2 status may request employment authorization from USCIS. Income from the J-2’s employment may be used to support the family’s customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things.
Employment will not be authorized if the income is needed to support the J-1.
Maintain health insurance
The US government requires all J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents to carry health insurance.
Failure to maintain health insurance will result in termination of your Exchange Visitor program.
30-day “grace period”
The Department of Homeland Security allows all Exchange Visitors 30 days of lawful status in the US following completion of their program.
This 30-day “grace period” is NOT included in the program dates listed in item 3 of your DS-2019 form.
During the grace period you are expected to settle your affairs and prepare to return home.
If you travel outside the U.S. during the grace period you will not be permitted to re-enter the U.S. in J-1 or J-2 status.
Employment is prohibited during the 30-day grace period.
You may be surprised to learn that US law requires foreign nationals 18 years of age and older to carry “registration” documentation with them “at all times.”
For individuals in J-1 and J-2 status, evidence of registration is your most recent Form I-94 Record of Departure. If you were issued an electronic I-94 record, the stamp in your passport is your registration document.
The law is found at INA § 264(e) and the list of documents that qualify as evidence of registration is found at 8 CFR § 264.1(b).
If you travel by air, train, bus or ship within the US, you may be required to show your passport and I-94 record when boarding. Keep photocopies of your passport and I-94 in a separate location from the original documents. Photocopies do not substitute for the originals but can make replacing them a bit easier in the event they are lost or stolen. Guard your documents carefully!
Leaving UW: Important visa and tax information
Please review this important information. It was our pleasure serving you and we wish you success in your future activities.