Guidelines for maintaining immigration status

Each J-1 scholar is responsible for reading, understanding, and complying with U.S. federal regulations related to their particular J-1 classification. This is to ensure that both the J-1 scholar and any dependent(s) are in compliance with U.S. federal regulations. Failure to comply may result in legal repercussions to both the scholar and the sponsoring institution. In addition, Northeastern, as the J-1 Program Sponsor, is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the J-1 program.

The J-1 scholar is responsible for remaining in contact with the sponsoring agency/organization – Northeastern University – at all times and keeping that agency/organization informed of all pertinent changes and relevant legal issues.

To comply with the terms of your J-1 visa, please make sure you follow these rules:

  1. Update your address (within 10 days of moving) and/or phone number on myOGS.
  2. Keep your DS-2019 and passport up-to-date.
  3. Maintain health insurance for yourself and your J-2 dependents. Massachusetts law requires all residents to have medical insurance coverage and the USA Department of State also stipulates the coverage needed.
  4. Scholars may travel abroad throughout their stay. For more information about travel requirements, please see International Travel.
  5. If you plan an extended absence of more than 30 days, you will need special “Out-of-Country” authorization. If you expect to be outside the U.S. for more than 30 days, please contact the Office of Global Services well in advance to discuss your plans.
  6. Work only at your host department at Northeastern, in the position listed in your appointment letter, unless otherwise authorized by the Office of Global Services.
  • J-1 scholars must be specifically authorized in advance by the Office of Global Services to engage in incidental activities, such as occasional lectures or consultations at another institution
  • In some instances, universities may agree on joint sponsorship of a scholar’s activities prior to the arrival of the scholar or during the scholar’s J-1 program. Joint research activity may require an addition of the Second Site of Activity to the scholar’s record. (The college Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) contact must reach out to the Office of Global Services prior to the arrangement of joint sponsorship)

Occasional lectures and consultations

In order to participate in an on campus or off-site activity and receive payment from  outside the institution or Northeastern, J-1 scholars must request an incidental employment authorization from the Office of Global Services. This form must be completed for each activity.

Eligibility for occasional or incidental employment:

  • Must be a J-1 exchange visitor participating in the professor, research scholar, or short-term scholar categories
  • Occasional lectures or short-term consultations do not interfere with and are in keeping with the activities of the exchange visitor’s program. To ensure this, the activity must:
  1. Be directly related to the objectives of the exchange visitor’s program.
  2. Be incidental to the exchange visitor’s primary program objectives.
  3. Be documented in SEVIS prior to participation.
  4. Cannot delay the completion date of the visitor’s program.
  5. If receiving an honorarium, stipend (or similar type of one-time payment), it must be paid as an “independent contractor.”
  6. If being reimbursed, no need to be paid as an independent contractor.

How to obtain incidental employment authorization

Submit an incidental employment authorization form from myOGS at least 2 weeks prior to the anticipated employment start date.

The request will require two letters to be uploaded on the e-form:

  • Letter from the institution where you would conduct the activity ( sample letter)
  • Letter from the Northeastern host faculty recommending the activity (sample letter )

Once the Office of Global Services reviews and approved the request, a revised DS-2019 form will be issued. This new DS-2019 is documented proof of authorization to participate in the activity and authorization to receive reimbursement or payment (if applicable).

Consequences of incidental employment not authorized

The Office of Global Services is unable to request authorization for participation in activities after the event has taken place. Failure to request authorization prior to the event may lead to program termination. Please know that payment cannot be issued and participation in the event cannot take place without prior authorization from the Office of Global Services. “Payment” is defined as receiving reimbursement, stipend, honoraria, etc. It is not appropriate to be paid by salary, or in any other way that assumes that the scholar is participating in an ongoing activity, which is disallowed by the U.S. Department of State Exchange Visitor Program.

J-1 continuing program "Out-of-Country"

The “Out-of-Country” functionality allows a professor or research scholar participating in his/her Exchange Visitor Program to be outside of the USA for a scheduled period of time, provided that the program activities will be continued while the J-1 exchange visitor is away.

The DS-2019 and Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record remain active during this time period. Approval of the “Out-of-Country” request is at the discretion of the Office of Global Services. If the approved J-1 program activities are not maintained during the “Out-of-Country” absence, the Office of Global Services will terminate the exchange visitor’s immigration status. In this case, the visitor may not return to the USA the same exchange visitor’s status for 24 months.

Situations that require “Out-of-Country” authorization:

  • The exchange visitor will be out of the USA for more than 30 days AND will continue to pursue the program/research objective originally described in the offer/invitation letter

Situations that do not require “Out-of-Country” authorization:

  • If an exchange visitor is vacationing outside the USA for 30 days or less in agreement with the department, no permission from the Office of Global Services is required
  • If the period of vacation is more than 30 days, the program or research is not usually allowed to continue
  • The exchange visitor is an instructor and will be outside the USA during a term in which the department does not require the exchange visitor to teach, but he/she will return the following term to resume teaching responsibilities (usually summer)
  • If none of these situations apply, please schedule an appointment with an Office of Global Services advisor to discuss your situation
  • The academic department should write a letter describing the situation. The exchange visitor must arrange an appointment to meet and discuss it with an Office of Global Services advisor before departure


If an exchange visitor will be outside the USA for personal reasons for more than 30 days and will not be pursuing the J-1 program objective, please discuss this with an Office of Global Services advisor before making the final plan. Your SEVIS record may need to be completed. In this case, an “End of Program Notification” must be submitted, indicating the Office of Global Services should end the J-1 program. For exchange visitors in the research and professor category, the 24-month bar will go into effect in this case.

Responsibilities of the J-1 exchange visitors

During the absence, the exchange visitor must:

  • Continue to maintain status and comply with the regulations of the exchange visitor program
  • Report to the department administrator any changes in purpose, activities, or dates as indicated in this request form
  • Failure to maintain status will cause the SEVIS record and DS-2019 to be inactivated, compromising eligibility to participate in the exchange visitor program and return to the USA
  • Maintain a permanent (foreign) and current (last residential address in the USA) address and update them within 10 days of any change
  • Maintain a “” email address
  • J-2 dependents will need to depart the USA with the exchange visitor during the “Out-of-Country” absence period

Responsibilities of Northeastern

During the absence, the department must:

  • Continue to supervise the exchange visitor while he/she is out of the country
  • Provide the Office of Global Services with a letter (see sample letter) indicating how the exchange visitor program activities will continue while the exchange visitor is outside the USA
  • Notify the Office of Global Services if there is any change in the purpose, activities, or dates of the exchange visitor’s “Out-of-Country” period
  • In the event that the exchange visitor will not return to Northeastern after his/her absence, coordinate with the visitor to file an “End of Program Notification” with the Office of Global Services so we may complete the J-1 SEVIS record

How to obtain continuing program “Out-of-Country” authorization

  • Submit “Out-of-Country Request form via myOGS
  • This request will require a letter from your Faculty host (please find the sample letter here)
  • Submit the e-form via myOGS at least 2 weeks before the scholar departs
  • Remember that a valid travel signature (less than one year old at the time of re-entry) is required on the DS-2019 in order to return to the USA along with a valid passport and J-1 visa

List of e-form types

How to submit e-form requests via myOGS

1 Click the the myOGS log in page.

With the myOGS portal, you can safely communicate, submit documents, and receive important information from the Office of Global Services. For example, the DS-2019 request process is completely done online. If an offer has been extended from a department or college on campus, instructions will be sent to you via myOGS.

To submit e-form requests, first sign in at the myOGS Log In page.

2 Enter your university identification number.

(TEMPORARY IDENTIFICATION NUMBER), Date of Birth, Limited Access Personal Identification Number (PIN). This information was emailed to you from the Office of Global Services. Please note that your TEMPORARY IDENTIFICATION NUMBER is associated with the Office of Global Services and is different than your Northeastern identification number.

3 Once you login, expand the “Scholars & Researchers” tab and you will see the e-form requests you can initiate.

Open the e-form request you want to submit, fill in the necessary information. You will receive an email confirmation when the request is successfully submitted. Some e-forms will be routed to your department and then the Office of Global Services and some will be routed directly to the Office of Global Services.

When you do not know your PIN number

If you don’t know your temporary Personal Identification Number (PIN), please contact your SEVIS contact in your college, or contact the Office of Global Services.

If you do not know your PIN, you can request it to be email to you by clicking “Email me my Limited Access PIN.”

Related Articles:

Completing Your Program (J-1 Scholar)

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Traveling as a J-1 Scholar

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SEVIS Contacts for J-1 Scholars

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