Scripps Research Logo

Alerts & News

Latest Immigration News Button

Find visa and travel related news and alerts here.

CONTENTS:

Change in J Exchange Visitor Program Regulations
Mexico Travel Warning
Diversity Visa Lottery


Change in J Exchange Visitor Program Regulations

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program was established by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to facilitate the exchange of international research and education.  The DOS oversees the program and has approved designated TSRI as a program sponsor.  With this designation, TSRI must comply with all regulations governing the J Exchange Visitor Program and must go through an extensive re-designation process every 2 years.  

In 2015, the DOS published a final rule called Subpart A of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program regulations (22 CFR 62).  This is the biggest change in immigration regulations pertaining to J-1 Exchange Visitors since 1993.  

The new J regulations include:

1. Documenting J-1 Exchange Visitors’ required English language proficiency;

2. Reporting early departures of the J-1 Exchange Visitor and/or their J-2 dependents;

3. Reporting of email addresses, telephone numbers and changes of residential address for J-1 Exchange Visitors; and

4. Increasing the minimum health insurance coverage requirements (health insurance changes effective May 15, 2015)

Documenting English language proficiency: One major change is the requirement for sponsors to document that their J-1 Exchange Visitors have sufficient English language proficiency.  An objective measurement of English proficiency must be documented for a prospective foreign national to participate in TSRI’s J program.  All new requests for J-1 visa documents (DS-2019 Form) will be subject to this requirement.  While the regulations have always required a minimum level of English language proficiency, the new rule requires documentation detailing how each exchange visitor meets the minimum requirements.  The DOS said this was prompted because it found that "too many exchange visitors lack sufficient English proficiency to perform their jobs or complete their academic programs; to navigate daily life in the United States; to read and comprehend program materials; to understand fully their responsibilities, rights, and protections; and to know how to obtain assistance, if necessary." (79 FR 60294, 60301). 

The new provision requires sponsors to use one of the following "objective measurements of English Language Proficiency":

• A recognized English language test

• Signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school 

• A documented interview conducted by the sponsor either in-person or by videoconferencing, or by telephone if videoconferencing is not a viable option

The sponsoring PI is responsible for verifying the English language proficiency of an incoming J-1 Exchange Visitor (postdoctoral/research scholars, short-term scholars, student interns, etc.).  TSRI sponsor must complete the TSRI Certification of Language Proficiency Form and submit it to the International Services Office when requesting J visa sponsorship.  It must be retained in the scholar’s file for DOS audits as DOS “reminds sponsors to retain evidence of how they measured applicants’ English language proficiency so that it may be made available to the Department upon request”.   

For more information, please see the FAQ.

Please note that this requirement does not impact foreign nationals on any other visa type (H1B, TN, etc.).


Mexico Travel Warning

December 24, 2014

U.S. citizens have been the target of violent crimes, such as kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery by organized criminal groups in various Mexican states.  For information on security conditions in specific regions of Mexico, which can vary, travelers should reference the state-by-state assessments further below.  This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Mexico, issued October 10, 2014, to update information about the security situation and to advise the public of additional restrictions on the travel of U.S. government (USG) personnel.

Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day.  The Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that organized criminal groups have targeted U.S. visitors or residents based on their nationality.  Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes. 

Nevertheless, U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter organized criminal groups that engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico.  The groups themselves are engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity.  Crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere.  U.S. citizens have fallen victim to criminal activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking, and highway robbery.  While many of those killed in organized crime-related violence have themselves been involved in criminal activity, innocent persons have also been killed.  The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered in Mexico was 81 in 2013 and 85 in 2014 to date. 

Gun battles between rival criminal organizations or with Mexican authorities have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico.  Gun battles have occurred in broad daylight on streets and in other public venues, such as restaurants and clubs.  During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area. Criminal organizations have used stolen cars, buses, and trucks to create roadblocks on major thoroughfares, preventing the military and police from responding to criminal activity. The location and timing of future armed engagements is unpredictable.  We recommend that you defer travel to the areas specifically identified in this Travel Warning and exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the other areas for which advisories are in effect. 

The number of kidnappings throughout Mexico is of particular concern and appears to be on the rise.  According to statistics published by the Mexican Secretaria de Gobernacion (SEGOB), in 2013 kidnappings nationwide increased 20 percent over the previous year.  While kidnappings can occur anywhere, according to SEGOB, during this timeframe, the states with the highest numbers of kidnappings were Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Michoacán, Estado de Mexico, and Morelos.  Additionally, according to a widely publicized study by the agency responsible for national statistics (INEGI, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography), Mexico suffered an estimated 105,682 kidnappings in 2012; only 1,317 were reported to the police.  Police have been implicated in some of these incidents.  Both local and expatriate communities have been victimized.  More than 130 kidnappings of U.S. citizens were reported to the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Mexico between January and November of 2014.

» Please read the full alert for more information.


Diversity Visa Lottery (Green Card Lottery)

DV Lottery 2016 - Registration information is posted below

DV Lottery Program Information

Entrant Status Check - DV-2016 entrants can check beginning May 1, 2016

Results (By Country): DV-2015DV-2014 | DV-2013 | DV-2012

Each year, the State Department conducts a Diversity Visa Lottery ("green card lottery").  Individuals selected in the lottery are eligible to submit an application for permanent residence.  Foreign nationals enter the lottery by completing an online application at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov, the State Department's official lottery website.  Applications must be submitted during the designated application period in the fall.  There is no fee for the application. After the application period closes, the State Department conducts a lottery to randomly select the individuals who will be able to file a green card application for the following fiscal year.  The State Department notifies lottery winners between May and July following the fall application period.  Winners are notified directly by U.S. mail from the State Department's Kentucky Consular Center.  Applicants can also check the status of their lottery entry at the official lottery website.

Foreign nationals should be aware that the State Department does not use or authorize any outside individual or entity to accept lottery applications or operate the Diversity Visa Lottery program. Unfortunately, fraud in connection with the lottery is common. Unscrupulous individuals set up fraudulent websites that pose as official government sites or that purport to be authorized by the State Department to accept lottery applications, sometimes for very high fees. These individuals may also send e-mails, faxes or letters to foreign nationals, falsely claiming that the recipient has been selected in the lottery and requesting the recipient to send personal information and money.

Foreign nationals who have entered or plan to enter the lottery should take precautions to avoid becoming the victims of fraud. Though applicants may seek legal counsel or other assistance in preparing their applications, they should be wary of commercial websites that purport to register applicants in advance of the official lottery period or any individual or entity that claims to be authorized by the State Department.  Foreign nationals should also be wary of any communication that is not sent directly from the State Department or that looks suspect in any way.  No fees or personal information should be sent to a questionable individual or entity. See http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt003.shtm for detailed information on Diversity Visa Lottery fraud from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

THE 2016 DIVERSITY VISA (DV) LOTTERY

ONLINE ENTRY PERIOD WILL BEGIN AT NOON E.T. ON WEDNESDAY 01 OCTOBER 2015, AND WILL END AT NOON E.T. ON MONDAY 03 NOVEMBER 2015. 

Submitting an entry can ONLY be made at this official U.S. Government site during the entry period:

https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/

Instructions for application, and FAQs for the 2016 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program can be found at:   

http://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/DV-2016-Instructions-Translations/DV_2016_Instructions_English.pdf

The 2016 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (also known as the Green Card Lottery or Diversity Lottery) provides 50,000 immigrant visas for persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.  

Even though millions of people apply each year, it is still worth a try.  TSRI has averaged about 3–5  winners every year!

THERE IS NO COST WHATSOEVER TO APPLY FOR THE DV LOTTERY.

Beware of scams from websites or individuals charging a fee to apply on someone’s behalf.

Only websites with “.gov” are authentic.

Residents of the following countries are NOT eligible to apply in the 2016 DV Lottery because they provided more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the previous five years:  

Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan ARE eligible to apply.

Guarding Against Lottery Fraud

Unfortunately, DV lottery fraud is very common. However, foreign nationals can and should take a few precautions to protect themselves.

» Look out for deceptive lottery websites. The only authorized DV lottery website is http://www.dvlottery.state.gov. The State Department does not use or authorize any outside individual or company to accept lottery applications or operate the lottery. But websites posing as official government sites or claiming to have State Department authorization abound. They should be avoided.

» The State Department does not charge a fee for lottery registrations. A website, individual or company claiming there is a government fee to enter the lottery is fraudulent.

» If lottery assistance is needed, seek competent advice. Though applicants may use a lawyer or other representative to prepare a lottery registration, they should be wary of commercial websites that claim to register applicants outside of the registration period or purport to be authorized by the State Department to accept registrations for a fee.

» Beware of lottery e-mails, letters or faxes that claim to be from the State Department. The State Department does not send e-mails, letters or faxes about the DV lottery. The official website is the only legitimate source of information about lottery results and the only place to submit a lottery registration.

» Be skeptical of any communication claiming a foreign national has won the DV lottery when he or she did not register, or registered in a previous year.

» Avoid sending money or personal information to questionable individuals or companies.

» Learn more about DV lottery fraud by visiting the websites of the State Department and the Federal Trade Commission.