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Your Complete Guide to DS-2019: What It Is, Who Needs It, and How to Apply

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Planning to be one of the international students or researchers? If that’s the case, you may have come across the term “DS-2019.”

The DS-2019 is a document for anyone planning to travel to the United States for educational, research, or cultural exchange programs. The DS-2019 form includes details about you, your program sponsor, and your program of choice.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • Overview of DS-2019
  • How to apply for a DS-2019 form
  • Tips for maintaining DS-2019

Immigration Tips and News

What is a DS-2019?

The DS-2019 is called the “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status.” This is a legal document to apply for a J-1 visa. If you’re looking to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program, you’ll need to fill out Form DS-2019. 

Form DS-2019:

  • Identifies the participant
  • Identifies the sponsor
  • Provides details about the program activity to be completed by the participant
  • Identifies the start and end dates of the program
  • Identifies the program category
  • Provides an estimated financial support

Your sponsor will issue Form DS-2019 after they’ve screened and selected you. This form is generated through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System or SEVIS website. Then, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will use this form to review your application for admission to the United States.

Who Needs to File Form DS-2019?

If you plan to travel to the United States for academic or research purposes, you may need a DS-2019 form. Let’s see if you’re eligible to file form DS-2019.


Students are among the most common individuals needing a DS-2019 form. If you’re an international student who has been admitted to an accredited U.S. institution and wants to pursue a full-time academic program, you’ll generally need a DS-2019 to apply for a J-1 student visa.

To be eligible for the J-1 visa, a visitor must be demonstrated sufficient financial resources to support himself throughout his studies, maintain a residence abroad, and intend to return home. You can provide the following:

  • Bank statements indicating personal or family savings
  • An award letter for scholarships or fellowships from an exchange program
  • An official letter of sponsorship from a company, government, or organization

Next, prove that you have a valid reason for wanting to come to the U.S.. Your proof should include studying at a particular school or researching a specific field. Your sponsoring institution will help you obtain the DS-2019 form and guide you through the visa application process.


People who wish to come to the United States for educational purposes may also need a DS-2019 form. These individuals typically fall into one of two categories:

  • those who are affiliated with a recognized academic institution; or
  • those who are conducting research at a private, non-profit research organization.

To be eligible for a J-1 scholar visa, you must have a sponsoring institution that’s willing to host you. You must also have adequate qualifications and expertise in your field. And same with students; you need to provide proof of financial status.


This category covers exchange visitors who are coming to the U.S. to:

  • Undertake independent research
  • Collaborate on a project with an institution
  • Participate in a program designed to enhance their expertise and knowledge in their field

To be eligible for a J-1 research scholar visa, you need to get the same requirements as students and scholars. The Department of State must also authorize you to participate in the specific program or research project.

Steps to Apply for a DS-2019

Here’s a step-by-step instruction for obtaining a DS-2019 Form:

1. Find a sponsor

DS-2019 forms can only be obtained from designated sponsors authorized by the Department of State to issue these forms. You can find a list of sponsors on the Department of State’s website or by contacting your educational institution.

Once you have identified one, contact them to initiate the application process.

2. Submit your DS-2019 application

The application process typically involves completing several forms and documentation. Among the things you’ll need to submit may include a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (DS-2019) request form and proof of funding.

The sponsor completes the form prior to issuance to ensure all necessary information is provided. Remember, English proficiency and insurance coverage are also prerequisites for all participants.

3. Submit your fees

Participating in an exchange program comes with certain costs you must know. Make sure to communicate with your sponsor organization to receive a breakdown of all costs and fees.

Aside from program fees, you will also need to pay for other expenses related to your exchange visitor program. These costs include the SEVIS fee and visa fees. Note that not all exchange visitors must pay for these fees and that the U.S. government may cover the expenses for those enrolled in a federally-funded exchange program.

4. Wait for processing

Once you submit your application, the processing time for a DS-2019 form depends on the designated sponsor and the time of year. In some cases, the processing time takes up to weeks.

Your sponsor may contact you for additional information during the processing period. So it’s better to keep your communication open.

5. Receive your DS-2019

DS-2019 forms will be mailed or emailed to you by your sponsor if your application is approved. Before moving on, check the document carefully for errors.

Tips to Maintain DS-2019 Status

Here are tips for maintaining your legal status while holding a DS-2019:

  • Follow the program requirements
  • Keep your DS-2019 valid
  • Keep your passport unexpired
  • Report changes and updates to your program
  • Don’t work without authorization

In order to avoid negative consequences, it is crucial to maintain status while holding a DS-2019. You must also submit the necessary immigration documents and fees when you renew, extend, or transfer process. It’s important to take your status seriously and maintain it properly.

Get Help from Immigration Attorney

When faced with an issue with a DS-2019 status, resolving the issue can seem daunting. The stress and confusion of not having all of your paperwork in order is something no one wants to experience.

Seeking out the help of an experienced immigration lawyer can provide guidance throughout each step in the process. So don’t wait - if you have a question or concern about a DS-2019 status, take action by getting help from an immigration lawyer!

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