Work Options for J-1 Scholars

You may not work without proper work authorization. Work options are limited.

UMN Payment

If the UMN issued your DS-2019, you will see “University of Minnesota” printed in box #2 as your Program Sponsor. As a J-1 Research Scholar, Professor, or Short Term Scholar with a DS-2019 issued by the UMN, you are permitted to receive payment from your UMN hosting department for the scholar activities you were invited to the U.S. to do.

If your hosting department wishes to provide you funding, you must ensure that your DS-2019 is updated accordingly. To do this, you must complete the Continuing Scholar DS-2019 Request to update information. Submit the completed request with a copy of your UMN offer/funding letter to an ISSS advisor by scheduling an appointment or visiting during Walk-In Hours. Allow for 1–2 weeks of processing for the updated DS-2019. If you are not able to visit ISSS in-person, you may submit your materials to [email protected] along with an explanation (for example, you are located on a campus outside of the Twin Cities or you are currently traveling).

Non-UMN Payment

There are extremely limited options for J-1 scholars to receive payment from a U.S. entity other than from their UMN hosting department. Work that is not directly related to your scholar activities is not permitted (such as part-time work at a local coffee shop).

Occasional Lectures and Short-term Consultations

Occasionally, a U.S. entity (other than the UMN) invites a scholar to give a lecture or a short-term consultation in the scholar’s field of expertise. Often, the entity wishes to reimburse the scholar for their travel expenses or pay them an honorarium. With proper authorization, the scholar would be permitted to perform this activity and receive payment.

If your DS-2019 was issued by the University of Minnesota, you are required to receive authorization from ISSS before you begin the activity.

Eligibility for Authorization

  • The activity must be directly related to the objectives of the scholar’s program at the UMN.
  • The activity must be merely incidental to the scholar’s primary program activities.
  • The activity may not exceed one month in duration.
  • The activity must not delay the completion date of the scholar’s program.
  • The scholar must act as an independent contractor (not an employee) in the activity.
  • The activity must be approved in advance and in writing by ISSS.
  • The activity and site of activity must be documented in SEVIS.

Authorization Procedure

  1. Obtain a letter from the institution, company, or person offering the activity and pay, which states the terms and conditions of the invitation, including:
    • Duration
    • Number of hours
    • Field or subject
    • Amount of compensation
    • Description of activity
    • Name and address of the location where the activity will be performed
  2. Obtain a letter from your UMN faculty mentor or department head recommending the activity and explaining how it would enhance your program.
  3. Meet with an ISSS advisor during walk-in hours or make an appointment. Bring the following:
    • A letter from the institution, company, or person offering the employment
    • A letter from the UMN faculty mentor or department head
    • J-1 Scholar Service Request Form
  4. The ISSS advisor will review the information provided.  If the adviser determines that the activity is warranted and satisfies the requirements, they will provide you a letter authorizing the activity.

Permanent Sites of Activity

In rare circumstances, a scholar’s hosting department might require the scholar to perform their research activities on a continuous basis at an additional site of activity other than at the UMN as part of their UMN responsibilities. Consult with ISSS to discuss your individual case and request authorization.

An advisor will require a letter(s) from your hosting department explaining:

  • The need for the additional site of activity
  • How it directly will relate to and enhance your UMN scholar program
  • If the department/faculty mentor has had a previously established relationship with the entity at the additional site

If ISSS authorizes the additional site of activity, an advisor will update your SEVIS record to reflect the additional site.

Last updated: June 18, 2021