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Exchange Visitor Program (J-1 Visa)

The Puerto Rico Department of State is acertified Sponsor by the United States Department of State to administer the Exchange Visitor Program in the categories of University Student and Professor. In Puerto Rico, it is the only institution authorized to work with the exchange of international students. 

The Exchange Visitor Program promotes cultural and academic exchanges with foreign countries under the authority provided by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. This federal program is a tool that has allowed Puerto Rico to promote itself as acenter for higher education by fostering the exchange of foreign students in our universities. 

The following universities have participated in and benefited from the Exchange Visitor Program: University of Puerto Rico, Caribbean Primate Research Center; Interamerican University, Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico; Sacred Heart University; Universities of the Ana G. Méndez System, Pontifical Catholic University of Ponce. The following organizations, among others, have also participated in the Program: Alliance Française, Museo del Mar, Teen Challenge, Table Tennis Club, Mandarin Institute, The Future, Center for Micro-enterprises and Sustainable Agricultural Technology, Inc., Coda 21, Minor Capuchin Friars Order. 

Other companies in Puerto Rico identified as prepared to export by the Puerto Rico Trade and Export Company which have taken advantage of the Exchange Visitor Program include, among several: INDULAC, Air Green Corp., Caribbean Office Chairs Mfgts, Inc., Ci2i Media , Inc., Danosa Caribbean, Inc., Fusionworks, Inc., Gascó Industrial, Glasstra Manufacturing, Inc., Ignition and Fuel Systems, Corp., Jero Management Group Inc., Marey Heater Corp., Nazareno Enterprises & Services, Inc. ,Organic Health Labs, OPTI Manufacturing Corp., Pharma Bio Serv PR, Inc., Rosarion Software Development, Inc., Square Knot Corp. DBA California Closets, Universal Solar Products, Wovenware, Inc. 

You can refer to the Guide for Foreign Visitors for information on the Program, as well as for information to foreign citizens who wish to enter Puerto Rico under another type of non-immigrant visa.

University students

This category provides the international student with the opportunity to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program to study at an accredited academic institution that grants post-secondary degrees, or to train in an internship at the university or at any other institution, organization, or company, that supports and reinforces the student's academic studies. Studies may be non-degree or towards granting a degree such as associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctorate.

Selection criteria

  • A student is eligible to participate in the Program if their exchange is funded directly or indirectly by the U.S. government, the government of their country, or any international organizationof which the U.S. is a member by virtue of treaty or law. 
  • Also if the exchange takes place pursuant to an agreement between the U.S. government and the foreign government; or is conducted pursuant to a written agreement between the U.S. academic institution and a foreign institution, or between the US academic institution and a foreign government; or between the U.S. state or federal government and a foreign government. 
  • The student must receive significant funding support from sources other than personal or family funds.
  • The student must have been admitted to an accredited post-secondary educational institution in the United States on a full-time basis or must have been accepted to an internship for a minimum of 32 hours per week, before the sponsor can issue Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, J nonimmigrant visa. 
  • Program participants must obtain health insurance coverage with the following minimum benefits prior to the issuance of Form DS-2019: medical benefits of $100,000 per accident or illness, repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000, medical evacuation to the country of origin for $50,000, and a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

Additional requirements for student interns

  • Be enrolled and pursuing a degree at an accredited post-secondary academic institution in home country or outside the United States and request to participate in an internship in the United States that meets the objectives of the degree pursued at the foreign university.
  • The student intern will visit the United States to complete an internship, not to render services or participate in formal employment or work. In addition, you must have sufficient knowledge of the English language to be able to function in the day-to-day life of the internship.
  • The intern student must comply with the regulations and be in good academic standing in the foreign post-secondary academic institution to which he/she will return to complete his/her degree.
  • Prior to the issuance of the Certificate of Eligibility, the intern student must complete Form DS-7002, Training/Internship Placement Plan.
  • The student intern must have sufficient funds to subsist during the entire period of the exchange.
  • The internship program must expose the student intern to US techniques, methodologies, and technologies, and expand the student existing knowledge and skills.


This category provides professors with the opportunity to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program with the purpose of stimulating international collaborative efforts in teaching, lecturing and conferences, and in research. The Program allows for exchange at an accredited post-secondary educational institution, research institution, corporate research facility, museum, library, or similar institution in the United States.

VisitingProfessor Eligibility

  • Must not be a candidate for a tenure track or permanent position.
  • Cannot have been physically present in the United States as anon-immigrant during the past 12 months prior to the start date of the exchange program, unless the participating professor:
  • Is transferring from another exchange program;
  • The professor’s presence in the United States was less than 6 months; or
  • The previous presence was as a short-term academic.
  • Must not be subject to the repeated participation ban for having participated in a professor exchange within the past 24 months.

Professors may hold occasional conferences and brief or short-term consultations with the authorization of the responsible official as long as they are directly related to the objectives of the exchange program, are incidental to the main activities of the exchange, and do not delay the date of completion of the program.  If the visiting professor receives salaries or other remuneration for such activities, he mustact as an independent contractor. 

At the discretion and approval of the responsible officer, professors may engage in research and freely change their type of activity, if it is compatible and consistent with teaching and educating.  A professor may be authorized to participate in an exchange for the time necessary to complete his or her program, provided that such time does not exceed five years. Professors are not eligible to participate as professors again for a period of two years after the end date of their exchange program.

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