J-1 Non-Degree Students
The vast majority of Caltech international students, including Visiting Student Researchers (VSR) and Special Students, enter the U.S. on the F-1 visa, which is perfectly appropriate for these non-degree programs. Some visiting students may believe that the J-1 visa is required because they will be participating in an "internship" or "exchange" from the perspective of their home institution. It is important to understand that Caltech has invited you as a Visiting Student Researcher (VSR) or Special Student. In these categories, Caltech does not consider you to be an exchange student nor to be on an internship while at Caltech. You are not eligible to be "employed" in the U.S., therefore, the internship label does not apply and exchange students are only admitted through the Caltech Fellowship Advising & Study Abroad office from establish exchange partner institutions. For the VSR or Special Student program, an F-1 visa or J-1 visa are equally appropriate, but the J-1 has certain qualifiers and restrictions.
In order to be eligible for a DS-2019 and J-1 visa, you must be substantially supported by funding from any source other than personal or family funds.
Two Year Home Residence Requirement Certain J-1 students are subject to the two-year home residence requirement. You will be required to return to your home country for two years at the end of your exchange visitor program if any of the following conditions exist:
Government funding. Your program is financed, directly or indirectly, by the U.S. government or your home country's government, or the government of your country of last permanent residence, or
Graduate medical education or training. Your program is for graduate medical education or training, or
Skills List. You are a citizen or permanent resident of a country which has deemed your field of specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the country, as shown on the Exchange Visitor Skills List.
If you are subject to the two-year home residence requirement, you cannot change your nonimmigrant status inside the United States, you cannot apply for an H, L, or K visa, and you cannot complete an application to become a permanent resident. In order to fulfill the two-year home residence requirement, you must return to your home country for at least two years or obtain a waiver of that obligation.
Medical Insurance You must obtain medical insurance coverage that complies with the U.S. Department of State requirements for individuals in J-1 status and their families. Willful disregard of these requirements will result in termination of your program and your J-1 status.
Visiting Student Researchers and Special Students are not eligible for Caltech medical insurance.