Incoming J-1 Scholars

J-1 visa and arrival process

If you have accepted an offer to join the University of Maryland, Baltimore, there is much to do before and upon arrival.

Visa and Arrival Process Overview
  1. Your department sends the J-1 request to our office. Allow 10 business days for processing.
  2. The DS-2019 is issued and sent to you; you receive an email with instructions to pay the SEVIS fee and set your visa appointment. [Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from obtaining visa stamps.]
  3. After you get your visa, you may arrive in the United States up to 30 days before your DS-2019 program start date. Be sure to update the OIS if your travel plans change. If you are going to be a UMB employee, see below for additional arrival guidance.
  4. We recommend you make arrangements to have health insurance coverage begin the same day you arrive in the U.S.; you are required to have it begin on your J-1 program start date. See The Health Insurance Requirement section below for details.
  5. Upon arrival, check-in online using Sunapsis (login instructions will be automatically emailed to you): J-1 Scholar Sunapsis Check-In Instructions
  6. Attend the next available J-1 Scholar Orientation. Schedule: Events and Workshops
Arrival Information for Incoming J-1 Scholar Employees

If you will be placed on the UMB payroll, it is critical that you arrive at least 10 days before your program start date. The Social Security Administration will not accept an application from you until you have been present in the United States for 10 days. When you onboard at UMB, you will be required to produce evidence that you have applied for a Social Security number. See: Social Security Number for application instructions.

Preparing for life in Baltimore

Housing

Review our Housing Information website to learn about housing in Baltimore. We do not recommend you sign a lease until you have had the opportunity to visit the property in person.

Transportation

Review our instructions on applying for a Maryland driver's license — you also can get a Maryland State ID card if you do not wish to drive.

The UM shuttle will be available for your use once you get your UMB One Card (University identification card).

The Charm City Circulator is a free bus you may take.

The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) offers various methods of transportation, including the local bus, metro subway, and light rail. UMB employees may choose to get a reduced-cost monthly MTA pass.

If you are thinking about buying a car, be sure to review the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration website carefully to ensure you follow all the procedures to title and register your car and follow laws regarding car insurance.

Dining

There are lots of great restaurants in Baltimore. Check out Dining Options to see a map of restaurants on and near campus.

Estimated Expenses

You can expect it to cost you about $2,300 USD per month to live in the Baltimore area; if you have a family, it will be more expensive. Here are some estimated expenses provided by the UMB Financial Aid Office:

  • Rent: $1,200
  • Utilities: $250
  • Parking: $150
  • Food: $300
  • Miscellaneous: $250
  • Health insurance (for individual): $150

The health insurance requirement

Health Insurance Requirement

All J-1 Scholars and their J-2 dependents are required by regulation to have health insurance that meets certain criteria. You must be covered throughout your J-1 program dates, as listed on your DS-2019; however, we recommend you have insurance coverage begin on the first day you arrive in the United States.

You are required to demonstrate that you have health insurance coverage within 15 days of your J-1 program start date.

Coverage Criteria
  • Medical benefits per accident or illness of at least $100,000
  • Deductible per accident or illness that is not higher than $500
  • Co-insurance paid by the individual not to exceed 25 percent
  • Medical evacuation to visitor's home country of at least $50,000
  • Repatriation of remains of at least $25,000

Information for individuals employed (paid) by UMB is below. Jump to information for visiting scholars (not employed by the University).

 

Employee Information

If you will be employed by UMB, you are eligible to enroll in a Maryland State Employee medical insurance plan, which you will learn more about in your onboarding session. In addition, you will need to purchase a plan with Medical Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains coverage, because the state plans do not have this coverage.

Because of State of Maryland Benefits rules, the health insurance start date for State of Maryland health plans will be the first of the month following your start date. This is contingent upon you turning in your benefits enrollment forms within 60 days of your start date.

  • Example: If your start date is March 2-31, the health plan would be effective April 1
  • Example: If your start date is March 1, the health plan would be effective March 1

As a J-1, you are required to maintain health insurance during your entire J-1 program. This means that you MUST purchase a short-term plan to cover the time from your J-1 program start date to the effective date for your Maryland Health Plan.

In your first month, purchase one of the following plans:

In your second month and forward:

  1. Sign up for Maryland State Employee medical insurance at HR Onboarding
  2. Purchase one of the following Medical Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains Only Plans:

Visiting Scholar Information

If you are a visiting scholar, it is your responsibility to purchase a health insurance plan that meets the J-1 regulations. See links to companies that sell this type of health insurance below.

 

The U.S. health care system

Health care in the United States can be expensive. A person without health insurance is personally liable for ALL health care-related expenses. As such, it is essential (and required by regulation) that all international scholars in the United States have adequate health insurance coverage.

We recommend you watch this six-minute video: Overview of the U.S. Health Care System for International Students

We also have created a more comprehensive guide for you to read: Guide to U.S. Healthcare System

On-campus resources

UMB One Card

The UMB One Card is your University identification card that will allow you access into UMB buildings and is your ticket to use the UM shuttle service.

If you will be employed by UMB, you will get your One Card during your onboarding session.

If you are a visiting scholar, it is your department's responsibility to put you into the UMB Community System. Once they've placed you in the Community System, you will be able to visit the One Card Office located in the lower level of the SMC Campus Center (621 W. Lombard Street). You will need to show your passport to the One Card Office.

Library

The Health Sciences and Human Services Library is accessible to you once you have your UMB One Card.

University Recreation and Fitness

The campus recreation center is located on the fourth floor of the SMC Campus Center. If you wish to use the facility, you will need to purchase a membership. Information can be found on the URecFit website.

The Writing Center

Appointment priority is given to students, but the Writing Center has many resources online to assist you in your scientific writing.

Campus Activities

We encourage you to take advantage of the many activities offered on the UMB campus! The Elm Calendar is the best place to check what's going on at UMB. You also can check out the Wellness Hub for information about wellness activities and amenities on campus.

Immigration terminology

Visa

A visa is a stamp that is placed in a passport by a U.S. consular official. Visas serve only one purpose — they allow an individual to travel to the U.S.  border to request (re)admission into the United States on a particular immigration status. Visas have no bearing on the length or validity of a person's stay in the United States. However, a valid visa is required to reenter the United States after international travel, with a few exceptions.

Citizens of Canada and the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda are exempt from visa requirements; however, they still hold immigration status and are subject to the same laws that govern their immigration status.

Immigration Status

An individual’s immigration status is what controls their ability to stay in the United States and the types of activities they are permitted to engage in while in the United States. Immigration status is principally controlled by the I-94. As of May 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is no longer issuing these cards at the port of entry. Rather, you receive a stamp in your passport indicating the status on which you’ve been admitted and for how long you can stay in the United States. You can then access your I-94 information online at www.cbp.gov/i94.

Duration of Status (D/S)

Individuals who are admitted in J-1 status will have I-94 information that reads J-1 D/S (Duration of Status). This means that a J-1 is legally present in the United States provided they have a valid passport, a valid DS-2019 form, and continue to engage in activities that are consistent with their immigration status.

DS-2019 Visa Document

The visa document is what establishes the who, what, where, when, and how of immigration. It lists the biographical data of the individual, the activities they will be undertaking, the location of that activity, the dates of that activity, and the immigration sponsor.

Two-year home residency requirement

J-1 Exchange Visitors may be subject to the two-year home residency requirement. The two-year home residency requirement bars eligibility from obtaining H, L, or Permanent Residency (PR) visas. It also prohibits a J-1 from changing status inside the United States to another immigration status.

Not all J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to the two-year home residency requirement.

How does one become subject?

  • Receipt of government funding: If a J-1 receives funding from the U.S. government or his or her home government or country of legal permanent residence.
    • Payment from U.S. federally funded research grants do not constitute government funding for purposes of this requirement.
  • Skills List: If the J-1’s country of citizenship or legal permanent residence indicates that that field of study is an area where they have a critical need.
  • Alien Physicians: All individuals who come to the United States in the J-1 Alien Physician category under the sponsorship of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).