Understanding Your DS-2019

The DS-2019 is a multi-purpose document issued by a U.S. government-approved institution (or organization) certifying that your admission into a program has been accepted and that you have demonstrated sufficient financial resources to stay in the U.S. for the length of the DS-2019 form. The DS-2019 is officially titled the "Certificate of Eligibility" because with it, you are "eligible" to apply for a J-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Your spouse or children will also each need their own DS-2019 to obtain J-2 dependent status, if desired.

Getting the DS-2019 from a U.S. school is not enough to become a legal J-1 visitor; you must also be allowed legal entry to the U.S. as J-1, or be approved for a change of status from another type of nonimmigrant visa.

Are you a new international student or visiting scholar?

Request your DS-2019 using the links below:

How the DS-2019 is created

Once your admission into a program has been accepted, your name and other biographic information are entered into a U.S. government database called SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). The SEVIS database processes the information and produces a "PDF" file of the DS-2019 that is sent back to the school via the internet. The school official (either a Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer) signs the DS-2019 digitally and then sends it to you electronically via DocuSign.If an update or change needs to be made on the DS-2019, the school official makes these requests through SEVIS and a new document is produced.

How the DS-2019 is used outside the U.S.

The DS-2019 form is used by the prospective visitor to apply for a J-1 visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. The visa is the document needed to be allowed entry into the United States. The DS-2019 must be presented along with the J-1 visa to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent upon arrival at a U.S. port-of-entry.

How the DS-2019 is used inside the U.S.

Once the visitor has arrived in the United States and passed through the border inspections process, the DS-2019 is used for identification purposes and proof of legal status. For those J visitors who are eligible for employment, the DS-2019 will be shown to the employer as part of the hiring process.

Transfer of Programs

The DS-2019 is also needed for a transfer of programs. If a visitor transfers from one J-1 program to another, a new DS-2019 is issued by the new school or program before the current DS 2019 has expired. See the Responsible Officer at your program to get more information about the transfer process.

Traveling with the DS-2019 

If you will be traveling abroad and then returning to the United States to resume your J-1 program, you must take your DS-2019 with you. The DS-2019 is required for re-entering the United States and applying for a new visa (if you need one). Before your departure from the United States, make sure that you have an unexpired "travel validation" from an adviser at Berkeley International Office on the DS-2019 (bottom right corner). This signature is valid for one year for multiple visits outside the United States or until the DS-2019 expires, whichever is first. In most cases, a travel validation can be done quickly and easily at Berkeley International Office; however, be sure to plan ahead and get it done several weeks before you depart the United States to avoid the holiday rush (see also Travel and Re-entry to the U.S.)

Important Information on the DS-2019

Some immigration regulations governing the J-1 status are listed on page 2 of the document. It is important that J-1 visitors read this page to understand the rules that apply to their stay in the United States.

The DS-2019 End Date

An "end date" was entered into item #3 on page 1 of your DS-2019 based on your particular program. If you are not able to finish your program on that date, you must request an extension from your program sponsor BEFORE the DS-2019 expires. In all cases, proof of sufficient funds will be required to extend your stay in the United States. For some, this documentation may take time to acquire and advance planning is highly encouraged. Please consult with an adviser at Berkeley International Office if you have any questions about your stay in the United States. For procedures on Extension of Program, see the links below:

J-1 students who are interested in working in the United States following their program completion must apply for Academic Training work authorization before their actual program completion date.

The 30-day Grace Period

After completing your program, you are allowed a 30-day grace period to depart the United States. During the grace period, you may not re-enter the United States from abroad in J status.

Maintaining Your Records

The J-1 visitor is responsible for maintaining copies of all DS-2019s that they receive during their program. It is important that you save the copies in a secure location as you may be asked to present them when applying for future immigration benefits, a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement, or other applications. Berkeley International Office does not maintain signed copies of the DS-2019.