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J-1 Exchange Student: Admissions Information

Once you have been accepted to UWM's exchange program you need to apply for a J-1 visa, make housing arrangements, and register for classes (see housing and academic sections). Each of these tasks MUST be completed before you arrive on campus.


Official Welcome and Admission to UWM

Once you have completed the application process and UWM has issued your DS2019 immigration document you will be sent a package containing a welcome letter with your student identification number, your DS2019 immigration document, as well as a housing contract if you chose the university housing option, date for arrival and mandatory orientation, and other university information. You will then need to apply for a J-1 Exchange Student visa.



Obtaining a J-1 Visa to Enter the United States

As an exchange student, you must obtain a J-1 Visa in order to enter the United States. The J-1 Visa can be obtained at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your country. In order to obtain a J-1 Visa, you will need the following:

  • Valid passport
  • Passport-sized photos
  • Acceptance letter from UWM
  • DS-2019 Form (this form is created by UWM and will be sent to you once your application is approved)
  • Financial documents showing you can cover the expenses of your stay in the United States (this amount will vary depending on your length of stay).

Note: This is not a comprehensive list. You should check with the consulate or embassy in your country to inquire about any additional requirements or forms you will need in order to apply for a J-1 Student Visa.

For more information about obtaining a J-1 visa, see the following ISSS documents:

  • Preparing for Your J-1 Visa Interview; and
  • 10 Things to Remember When Applying for a Student Visa.


Other Important Immigration Issues

To fulfill the requirements of your J-1 Student Visa and UWM's exchange program, there are several guidelines you must follow.

Full-Time Status
As an international exchange student, it is expected that you maintain full-time student status. Full-time status means that undergraduate students must take at least 12 credits each semester and graduate students must take at least 8 credits each semester. Most classes are worth three credits.

Health Insurance
J-1 Exchange students are also required to carry approved medical insurance. 

You are required to purchase the health insurance policy that UWM has coordinated for all international students. The insurance plan is negotiated each year and the coverage dates and costs change each term.  Students will pay for a semester or year depending on how long they will be studying at UWM.  Charges are automatically applied to student's PAWS account at the beginning of each term.

You do not need specific vaccinations to come to UWM, but but Sandburg Hall dormitory recommends that students get a meningitis shot before arriving and to bring a copy of your medical records.

J-1 Exchange students are eligible for part-time on-campus employment (20 hours per week maximum) but are not eligible to work off campus. If interested in on-campus employment , please contact your advisor for more information on the employment process once you arrive on campus. You are not eligible to accept employment until you have received work authorization from UWM's International Student and Scholar Services office and obtained a Social Security card. If you would like to do an internship please contact an exchange coordinator.

International Travel
In most cases, travel outside of the United States is possible during your exchange. Contact Jen Singer ( at least one week before you plan to leave the United States. She will be able to provide you with a travel letter and will ask for emergency contact information for your time away from Milwaukee. Most importantly, she will sign your DS-2019.  If you don't have her signature, you will be able to leave the United States but not return.

Change of Address
If you move during your stay in the United States you must contact UWM's International Student and Scholar Services office with your new address no later than 10 days after moving.

If you are interested in doing an internship before you return home, make sure you contact Jen Singer ( as soon as possible. You MUST have permission for the internship before you start it. Jen is happy to go over the details of the special work permission with anyone who is interested.

Following Your Exchange Program
You have 30 days to leave the United States after the date on your DS-2019.  Once that date has passed, you will not be eligible to enter the United States again as a J-1 student.