In all cases for all visa issues, please discuss with your faculty mentor and the Department CAO as to eligibility and current UCLA and U.S. policies and procedures.



The J visa is a nonimmigrant visa. The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is “to provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the United States and return home to share their experiences, and to encourage Americans to participate in educational and cultural programs in other countries” The School of Medicine sponsors visiting scholars only. The minimum educational level required for is a master’s degree, or bachelor’s degree with substantial experience in their respective specialty field.  The J-1 maximum in the U.S. is 5 years, including time spent at another institution on a J-1 visa. J-1 visas in DGSOM are provided in one year increments, renewed up to 5 years.  Estimate approximately 3 months for processing time.


Home Residence Requirement

The Immigration and Nationality Act has placed certain limitations on J-1 visa holders. one of these is the two-year home residence requirement.

  1. Exchange Visitors may be subject to this requirement if their financial support comes totally, or in part, from the U.S. government, the home country’s government, or certain international organizations (i.e. WHO, UNICEF, PAHO, etc.).  This means that Exchange Visitors are ineligible to change from J-1 to H-1 or permanent resident status unless they reside for two years in their country of last legal permanent residence or nationality, or unless they obtain a waiver of this requirement.
  2. Exchange Visitors who have private funding for their programs at UCLA are subject to the two-year residence requirement if their field of specialization and home country are included on the Exchange Visitor Skills List.  This list includes countries that have shortages of trained professionals in specific fields of specialization.

The U.S. Embassy or Consulate makes a determination at the time of visa issuance, and the USCIS acting on behalf of the U.S. State Department determines the applicability of this requirement to an Exchange Visitor’s program upon entry into the United States.  An Exchange Visitor subject to this requirement may apply for a waiver of the home residence requirement.


H-1b status is for individuals with specialty occupations coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform services of a professional nature. Under current regulations, H-1b status is granted for an initial period of three years, and a three year extension is possible for a maximum duration of six years. H-1b petition is employer specific.  Potential employees must show that they have served under the J-1 category for the maximum five year period before an H1-b application will be considered.  Estimate approximately 6 months for processing time.

Dependents of H-1b holders are eligible for H-4 status. H-4 holders are not eligible to work in the U.S.