IREX J Visa Exchange Program

IREX’s J Visa Exchange Program supports foreign researchers, scientists, and academics to obtain J-1 “exchange visitor” visas. Exchange visitors engage in collaborative research with US host organizations on a visiting basis.

Exchange visitors and their US counterparts mutually benefit, gaining cutting-edge skills, fresh perspectives on scientific problems, and lasting relationships with professionals, institutions, and laboratories around the world.

Prospective exchange visitors and US host organizations must submit an application and supporting documents to IREX and be accepted into IREX’s program before they can initiate a J-1 visa application.

We recommend submitting applications to IREX at least 4–6 weeks before the proposed research start date to allow adequate time for the visa process and relocation.


Step 1: Submit an application to IREX that defines the research aims

When a foreign researcher and US organization identify a research collaboration of mutual interest, they must submit an application to IREX that articulates the program or project objectives and the applicant’s qualifications. The researcher, host organization, or immigration attorney should consult IREX for a copy of our application and to discuss any program questions.

To begin the process, contact an IREX visa expert by sending an e-mail to or calling 1-202-628-8188, extension 179.

Step 2: IREX processes the application and prepares program agreements

IREX processes complete applications within approximately two business weeks (one full business week with an optional rush services fee). For approved applicants, IREX will issue written agreements for exchange visitor participants and host organizations that define program terms and roles.

Step 3: IREX issues the DS-2019, and the exchange visitor applies for a J-1 visa

Once the host organization and the exchange visitor return countersigned agreements to IREX, IREX will issue and ship the DS-2019 form(s) to the exchange visitor along with resources for navigating US visa processes and acculturation. The DS-2019 is necessary for the J-1 visa application at the US embassy.

Step 4: The exchange visitor begins the research program

Assuming J-1 visa approval, the exchange visitor may begin their research program on the start date of the DS-2019. IREX will provide exchange visitors with instructions for their arrival check-in reporting. Other reports are required during the research exchange program as detailed in the exchange visitor’s Terms and Conditions and Program Handbook.

Any changes to the original research program terms require approval by IREX.

Click here to learn more on application process

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