Scholar Application

The scholar application is an online request process involving both the sponsoring department and the incoming exchange visitor.  

NEW: Per FL House Bill CS/HB 7017, ALL scholars are now required to complete Foreign Influence/Principal Screening BEFORE our office can proceed with the application. This screening can add several weeks to the departmental timeline. 

After the USF department or faculty member determines they will host an international scholar at USF to engage in research, teaching, observation or other appropriate academic activity for 1 week to 5 years, they need to:

  1. Verify that the scholar’s academic credentials are appropriate to the proposed academic activity. 
  2. Follow the Department Responsibilities which include agreeing to supervise the activity during the stay at USF and arranging for appropriate work space and access to appropriate office equipment (computer, phone, etc.). 
  3. Please go to the USF Foreign Influence Screening webpage and complete the Foreign Influence/Principal Screening process. You will be asked to upload proof of screening at the beginning of the J-1 Scholar Application.
  4. Send an invitation letter. Here is a sample invitation letter

The department begins the online J-1 Scholar Application process three to six months prior to the planned start date at USF. This ensures that the scholar will have adequate time to apply for the visa and arrange travel. 

Important: Do not start the iStart scholar application process until the scholar has been sent their official USF job offer letter if they will be employed, and the Foreign Influence/Principal Screening has been completed.

Online Application Process -See the J-1 Scholar Application Instruction for Departments document for a detailed walkthrough of the process.  Quick start instructions below: 

  1. Determine who the ‘department contact’ will be. The department contact is the person who will be responsible for logging into iStart and going through the online scholar application process. It might be a department administrator or the professor from the department who is inviting the scholar. It is okay to let an administrative person in the department handle the application, but please remember that the faculty sponsor is responsible for the scholar and the accuracy of the data.

    Important Notes: 
    College of Engineering: All scholar applications are required to be completed by Khoa Dinh. Please contact Khoa Dinh to begin the process. 

  2. The department contact will log in. We suggest creating a bookmark in your browser for easy access. 

  3. If it is the first time the department contact has logged in, they will fill out the Department Access Request Form and then email the scholar advisor to let us know they’ve applied. 

  4. Once we approve their access, the department contact should log back in and begin the application process. 

    Important:  If you will host a scholar whose DS2019 will be created and maintained by an outside agency, such as Fulbright, a separate application is used. Please select and complete the J-1 Other Sponsor Scholar App (Fulbright, etc) in iStart, instead of the regular J-1 Scholar Application.

  5.  The department will be asked to:  
    1. Gather the scholar's full name, date of birth, gender, and email address, and any existing U#, to begin the online J-1 Scholar Application 
      NOTE: USF blocks incoming emails from the domains,, and others, due to excessive spamming. If you determined that a scholar's emails to you are being blocked, please ask them to use a different email address or contact USF IT to whilelist their email address. 
    2. Enter the proposed program information. Form Preview & Scholar App Worksheet 
    3. If the scholar is a medical doctor (physician), verify there will be no patient care or contact 
    4.  Verify English Language proficiency per US Department of State guidelines and USF Protocol. See Scholar English Proficiency Requirements for details. 
    5. Receive USF Export Control certification. 
    6. Provide faculty sponsor, department chair, and college dean approval via e-form electronic signatures.  All signatories must be USF employees as listed in USF’s HR database and have the ability to sign into the eforms using their USF Net ID. Requests from USF Health are forwarded to the appropriate USF Health Vice President. 

  6. Once all the information is gathered:  
    1. Find the Add Person E-form to add the new scholar to the iStart system. 
    2. Once the scholar is added, they can click on the J-1 Scholar App and Check-in link to officially begin the application process.  
    3. Follow the instructions on each E-Form and at the top of the application page. 

  7. The scholar will need to provide:  
    1. Copies of current passport biographical page for self and any accompanying dependents. 
    2. Proof of funding such as: scholarship letter, home institution funding letter, USF offer letter, or personal/family bank statement. 
    3. CV or detailed resume 
    4. Proof of their highest degree level. (copy of diploma or transcripts – translated into English) 
    5. Copy of the department invitation letter. 
    6. If currently  inside the U.S.,: current visa stamp, I-94, and DS-2019’s OR If spent time as a J-1 in the past, all previous DS-2019’s 
    7. Accompanying dependents are defined by immigration as spouse and children under 21 years of age.   
      1. If the dependents will live with the scholar for the majority of their stay at USF, they can come as J-2. The scholar provides an additional $5000 in funding per year for each dependent and purchases health insurance for all dependents for the duration of the scholar’s stay even if the dependents travel back and forth. 
      2. If the dependents plan to visit for a short time or make several short visits, the scholar should consider using the visitor visa program for the dependents. 

OIS issues a DS-2019 within 10 business days of submission of a complete and correct online J-1 Scholar Application 

  • OIS sends the DS2019 electronically directly to the scholar.