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What is the CHF Teacher Exchange Program?
The Cordell Hull Foundation (CHF) has been authorized by the U.S. Department of State since 1962 to sponsor exchange visitor J-1 visas for foreign teachers to work in U. S. private and public elementary and secondary schools.  If the teacher and school program meet the regulatory requirements, CHF will consider establishing an exchange visitor program with the cooperation of the school principal and/or school district.  An individual teacher may not apply to our program unless CHF has first set up an exchange program with the host school or district, which must cover CHF sponsorship costs.  Teachers may not apply directly to CHF.

What are the requirements for acceptance into the CHF Exchange Visitor Teacher Program?
To be eligible to participate in this program, foreign nationals must
(1) meet the qualifications for teaching in primary or secondary schools in their country of nationality or last legal residence,
(2) have a minimum of two years of teaching or related professional experience in elementary or secondary school (not university professors nor teachers of adults in language or vocational schools),
(3) satisfy the standards of the US state in which they will teach.
(4) be fluent in written and verbal English and must pass a written and verbal test to prove it,
(5) be of good reputation and character,
(6) teach full time for a minimum of 32 hours per week.
* 2-year BAR – have lived outside the United States for the two years’ previous before returning in J-1 teacher visa status.
** have been teaching during the school year previous to applying.

The school, district or state must set up a CHF J-1 visa teacher exchange program if there is not already an existing one.   See the Instruction Video page on this website to find the video explaining this procedure. Schools must be primary or secondary accredited educational institutions in the United States.  Registration in a particular state or filing Articles of Incorporation does not accredit a school.  School exemption from certification does not apply in this case, as it is required by the J-1 visa regulations.  The school, district or state must cover CHF exchange visitor sponsorship fees, which are listed on the home page of this website.

How do I apply for the CHF Teacher Exchange Program?
A school, school district, Confucius Institutes or State that meets the requirements may apply via www.cordellhull.net to set up a J-1 exchange teacher visitor program with the Cordell Hull Foundation.  
Click on New Exchange Program application.  We do not work directly with teachers nor allow teachers to pay sponsorship fees.

How may I contact the Cordell Hull Foundation to apply or to ask questions?

(1)  Read this page to learn about how the J-1 exchange visa program works:  Step by Step Setup Guide

Or watch the New Program Video.   See J1 VISA link at the top of this webpage and click on INSTRUCTION VIDEOS to obtain the most recent link in English, French, Spanish or Mandarin.
CHF is not an employment agency and does not usually does not perform teacher placement in target schools.  An exchange program must be officially set up via written agreement with the school or district in advance.  The school or district must cover the expense of J-1 program sponsorship through the Cordell Hull Foundation, not individual teachers.

(6)  General questions from teachers submitting unsolicited applications are answered only after teachers first complete the CHF Teacher Application form.
(7)  If you have been already received a tentative job offer pending acceptance into the CHF Exchange Visitor Program, and the school or district has already set up an exchange program through written agreement with the Cordell Hull Foundation, you may write or call to ask questions about the process.

*Note:  The 2-year BAR is in addition to the 2-year residency requirement; in other words, 2 years required to stay outside the US before returning to the US in J-1 visa status – no possibility of waiver.

May I request placement in a particular state or region of the U.S.?
CHF is not a personnel placement firm.  We do not charge recruitment fees.  We do not charge application fees.

Teachers may find job opportunities by attending international job fairs in the country or origin or researching teacher personnel search firms on the Internet.  If you wish to target a certain city or region, and obtain a teaching job offer, CHF will then consider setting up a teacher exchange program with the school or district.  In that event, please have the school or district contact us directly.  We do not allow individual teachers to cover the costs of CHF exchange teacher sponsorship.
See school requirements below.

Where can I find out about other teachers’ experiences?
See Teacher Perspectives for commentary from outstanding CHF J-1 exchange teacher visitors describing their experiences in the U.S. under our sponsorship, in English, French and Spanish.

What costs do teachers incur after being accepted into the Teacher Exchange Program?  Most exchange teachers pay airfare to the U.S. and sometimes cover consular processing fees at the American Embassy abroad to obtain the J-1 visa passport stamp.  Currently, those fees are the SEVIS 901 fee https://www.fmjfee.com/index.jhtml and the DS-160 visa processing fee of $160 form DS-160, using the Internet link: https://ceac.state.gov/ceac  Plus a courier fee for an envelope to return the passport from the American Embassy after the J-1 visa stamp is imprinted of $15-$30, depending upon the country.

Note:  During a possible 3-year J-1 exchange visa term, only pay the SEVIS fee once.  J-2 dependents of the teacher do NOT pay the SEVIS fee.  You may be asked to purchase a pre-paid courier envelope to mail the passport back after consular review.

Some countries, such as India, tack on additional small fees.  Be sure to read the instructions on the website of the specific American Embassy where you plan to apply.  You can find links to various American Embassy websites at: https://www.usembassy.gov/ 

What is the process to get a J-1 Visa stamp in my passport?  The Cordell Hull Foundation provides the necessary documents and instructions for the exchange teacher candidate including a properly executed DS-2019 form. The teacher goes online to the website of the nearest U.S. Embassy in the country of origin or in the country of current residence to make an in-person appointment to interview with the American Embassy consular officer and submits the application package for approval of J-1 teacher visa status. The American Embassy charges two fees to process the visa.  One is a visa stamp fee plus the SEVIS fee, paid separately online.  Check the American Embassy website of your country of origin for more details.  See What costs do teachers incur after being accepted into the Teacher Exchange Program?

Applicants must make an appointment for an interview with a consular officer.  J-1 visa stamps cannot be obtained anywhere in the United States, nor can you renew your J-1 visa inside the United States.  Since the J-1 is a non-immigrant visa, the burden of proving “non-intention to immigrate” falls upon the teacher applicant.  In countries where the preponderance of non-immigrant visa applicants do not return to their home countries, that burden of proof is heavier.  Canadians are currently exempted from going to the American Embassy for J-1 visa stamps.  Most European and Anglophone countries require only basic visa support documents from CHF and the standard Embassy application forms.  Consular Office (visa) procedures and policies change frequently and without notice.  If necessary, CHF will consult you in countries where the consular officers impose more scrutiny, offering tips on how to navigate the ever-increasingly complicated visa process.  In those countries, for example, starting in 2019 they will ask if you have read a pamphlet that you were instructed to read in advance and ask you questions about that pamphlet.  If you have not read it, they will send you back to the waiting room to read it and come back to finish the interview.  So far, this kind of close screening does not occur in European countries or Anglophone countries (where the native language is English, i.e. UK countries, Australia, New Zealand).

What forms do I fill out to take to the American Consular office to get my J-1 visa passport stamp?
All J-visa applicants must complete the interactive Form DS-160, using the Internet link: https://ceac.state.gov/genniv

You will need receipts for advance payment of the two visa fees to the American Consulate and SEVIS.  Check the website of the American Embassy in your home country to download these documents.  CHF includes a letter of instruction when forwarding the necessary backup paperwork to exchange teachers accepted into the program.   Read the specific procedure on the American Embassy website and follow the instructions.  Additional documents may be requested for non-immigrant visas in certain countries.

Are family members allowed to accompany me to the U.S.?
CHF does not automatically approve J-2 visas for family members (spouse and child).  Teachers are not automatically “entitled” to invite family members to join them in the US.  Young children must be at least school age.  It is an exchange program, and parents of infants and very young children are by nature preoccupied by their needs, which are more difficult to sustain in the US, especially since our health care costs are so much higher than other developed countries.  Teachers must inform the school early on in the application process how many family members you intend to bring to the US.  It is not practical and does not fulfill the goals of the teacher exchange program to bring large families or multiple children under the age of 6.  The J-1 is an exchange visa, not a work visa.

If the J-2 visa holder is in correct status, s/he may apply for a work permit (EAD) after arriving in the U.S. and applying for a social security number.  Form I-765 may be downloaded, fee paid by credit card and emailed directly to the Internal Revenue service.  Interactive Form EI-765 can be submitted online:  www.uscis.gov/i-765
When you write the cover letter accompanying the application, don’t fall into the trap of stating that the spouse needs the income to live in the US.  You must state that the extra income is only being sought to “enhance the exchange experience.”  The J-1 visa regulations require that the teacher’s salary be sufficient to support all family members.  If you state that you need extra income to support the family, USCIS will deny the work permit.

CHF does not guarantee visas for dependent relatives nor work permits.  Also, regulations require health-insurance coverage of $100,000 per accident or illness with a deductible not larger than $500 for every family member.  That is very expensive, depending upon whether your school supports those costs.  They often pay most of the teacher’s health insurance premiums, but not family dependents.  In some schools, the school plan is $500 per month per J-2 dependent.  See our blog for a chart showing minimal costs:  http://j1ivisateachexc.blogspot.com

Note that day-care in the US for children below school age is not free.  That expense is prohibitive for most foreign teachers.  Most foreign teachers will not be living in a US city where they have sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, etc. to babysit and call on to help take care of very young children.  You will not have that family infrastructure in the US.  By inborne nature, parents are preoccupied in caring for very young children, allowing scarce time to adapt to the American school curriculum and new way of teaching, nor to find time to make friends and interact with our culture, which is the purpose of the J-1 visa:  Cultural Exchange.

The J-1 visa is a cultural exchange visa, not a work visa.  Teachers are expected to expend energy to improve their English and to make friends with Americans while participating in our exchange, not to communicate exclusively with other people living here who speak their native language and wall themselves off from participating in American culture and only speak their native language both in schools (because CHF sponsors mostly language immersion and foreign language teachers), at home, and socially.
CHF is in process of developing an appropriate audio test to measure your progress in improving your English from year to year.  Only the very small percentage (less than 5%) of teachers sponsored by CHF who are native speakers of English (Canadian, British, Australian, South African, etc. ) will not be required to pass this exam.

When requesting a work permit, the dependent must explain why the income is not needed to support the family, only for the dependent’s enhancement or to improve the family’s overall standard of living.  The maximum number of dependents allowed is three: spouse and 2 children or 3 children (over age 6).  If an exchange visitor requests four dependents, proof of additional income for each child of at least $7,000 per year must be demonstrated, and not automatically granted.

What is the purpose of the Teacher Exchange Program? 
The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program, established by the Fulbright-Hayes Act of 1961, is to foster improvement of understanding between cultures through international exchange.  During the exchange tenure, teachers are expected to broaden student understanding of their native cultures and languages, and, in turn, acquire first-hand knowledge of the American way of life.  After spending 1-3 years in the U.S., the teacher returns to the home country with improved English skills to share first-hand knowledge of American culture.

What is a J-1 visa?
“J-1” is the non-immigrant visa category under which the Cordell Hull Foundation invites exchange teacher visitors to work in the United States on a temporary basis of one to three years, with a possible extension for the 4th and 5th year.  The J-1 visa regulations strictly limit length of stay to five years maximum for teachers.  After their tenure in the US, whether one, two, three, four or five years, they must return to their home countries (or leave the US) for two additional years before being eligible to return again in J-1 teacher visa status.

What is a J-1 sponsor?
The Cordell Hull Foundation is a J-1 sponsor granted authority by the U.S. Department of State to administer individual Exchange Teacher Visitor programs. The Foundation must ensure that the teacher candidate and the school meet the regulatory requirements. As part of its responsibilities, the J-1 sponsor provides the exchange teacher visitor with pre-arrival information, immigration instructions, an orientation after arrival, and monitors the activities of the program participant.

What is a DS-2019 form?
The DS-2019 form is a document issued by a Responsible Officer of CHF to the exchange teacher, describing the period and terms of the proposed visit. This form is one prerequisite for obtaining the J-1 visa passport stamp at a U.S. Consulate abroad, preferably in the home country.

What are CHF’s guidelines and requirements for schools?
Schools must pay CHF’s administrative fee to sponsor your exchange visit from 1-5 years on a J-1 teacher visa. If a school’s policy is to stay independent of the visa process, requiring teachers to have visas before they consider hiring you, and/or if the teacher’s positive exchange experience in the U.S. is not a priority, the school or district does not qualify for J-1 visa sponsorship by CHF.  CHF works directly with schools, school districts or Confucius Institutes, not through third-party representation (no recruiters or attorneys), nor with a teacher independently.  Third parties (such as attorneys) are most welcome to contact us and refer CHF to schools directly in order to discuss setting up a teacher exchange program.  Individual schools must be state-certified to qualify.

How can our school establish a J-1 Exchange Program?
First read this FAQ section to get answers to your questions.  Then fill out the New Program Application form on www.cordellhull.net

You will receive an email response.  CHF can offer candidates from our database or work with applicants in whom you are interested.  Upon request, a contract can include setting up customized recruiting arrangements in specific countries using CHF multilingual staff and/or selection committees in the foreign country.  As a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, CHF is not a personnel agency and do not seek jobs for individual teachers.  We do not charge a percentage for teacher placement.   A monitoring visit is generally arranged at the school or district office to meet the staff and/or exchange teacher(s) sponsored by CHF, preferably in advance of setting up the exchange program, depending upon the school location and travel schedule of CHF monitors.  Participating schools must be certified as educational institutions at the elementary and/or secondary level.  Day-care facilities are not eligible for J-1 exchange visitor teacher visas.  Uncertified schools, though exempt from state certification, are ineligible for sponsorship of J-1 teacher visas.

Are teachers sponsored on a J-1 exchange visitor visa tax-exempt?

All J-1 visaholders are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes for at least the first year and first semester of the second year.
Download p. 25 of IRS Publication 515 verifying that J-1 visaholders are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Publication 901:  U.S. TAX Treaties
IRS TAX EXEMPTION / REFUND FORMS:  8233     8833     8843

CHF does not guarantee tax advice, only directs educators toward publications and forms that may be helpful.  You can ask your school directly what the percentage of state and local tax that they will deduct from your check.  Since the Cordell Hull Foundation does not pay the teacher salary, we do not have those specific deduction figures.


A teacher is defined here as an individual, other than a student, who is temporarily in the United States under a “J ” or “Q ” visa and substantially complies with the requirements of that nonimmigrant status.

Also Included Are Immediate Family Members of Exempt Teachers

If any J-2 dependents are approved for sponsorship by CHF, members of the immediate family include the individual’s spouse and unmarried children up to age 20 (whether by blood or adoption), but only if the spouse’s or unmarried children’s nonimmigrant statuses are derived from, and dependent on, the exempt individual’s nonimmigrant status. Unmarried children are included only if they meet all the following:

  • Are under 21 years of age.
  • Reside regularly in the exempt individual’s household.
  • Are not members of another household.

The immediate family of an exempt individual does not include attendants, servants, or personal employees.

When a Teacher is Not Exempt

You will not be an exempt individual as a teacher if you were exempt as a teacher, trainee, or student for any part of 2 of the 6 calendar years preceding the current year. However, you will be an exempt individual if you were exempt as a teacher, trainee, or student for any part of 4 (or fewer) of the 6 preceding calendar years and:

  • A foreign employer paid all of your compensation during the current year.
  • A foreign employer paid all of your compensation during each of the preceding 6 years you were present in the United States as a teacher or trainee.

A foreign employer includes an office or place of business of an American entity in a foreign country or a U.S. possession.

If you qualify to exclude days of presence as a teacher or trainee, you must file a fully-completed Form 8843, Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition with the IRS. Form 8843 may be attached to your U.S. federal income tax return for the tax year, or it may be mailed separately to the address indicated in the General Instructions attached to the Form 8843.


Carla is temporarily present in the United States as a teacher in J-1 nonimmigrant status. She entered the United States on August 15, 2012, and is employed by a university in California.  She has never been in the United States prior to this visit. Carla is an Exempt Individual for calendar years 2012 and 2013 because during those two years she meets the test that prior to the current year she was not present during two years in the United States in F, J, M, or Q nonimmigrant status during the 6 calendar years prior to the current year. However, for calendar year 2014 she is no longer an Exempt Individual because she was present during two years in the United States in F, J, M, or Q nonimmigrant status during the 6 calendar years preceding the current year. For calendar year 2014, Carla must count her days of presence in the United States for the purpose of passing the Substantial Presence Test.

What are the steps to obtain the J-visa paperwork and instructions from the Cordell Hull Foundation after our school or school district has established a working agreement with CHF?
The initial process for the teacher to submit the required documents to CHF may differ or change periodically. For a general summary click:

J-1 visa initial application process
What are the general steps for Canadians to obtain J-1 visas?
For complete documentary requirements for U.S. visas and entry please seehttp://www.consular.canada.usembassy.gov/ and www.uscis.gov/graphics/services/visa_info.htmbefore proceeding to the U.S. Advice is unavailable through the consulate, either by telephone or in person. Some common nonimmigrant entry requirements for Canadians include: SEVIS fee receiptwww.fmjfee.com, paid at the border; proof of ability to pay for expenses.
Click:  Canadians

What are the Health Insurance requirements?
If you wish to obtain J-1 exchange teacher status, you must maintain adequate health insurance throughout your entire stay in the U.S.  Failure to do so may render the teacher out of status, requiring you to be removed from the exchange program and return to your home country immediately.

HEALTH INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR J-1 AND J-2 EXCHANGE VISITORS (EVs) Pursuant to 22 CFR Part 62.14, adequate Health Insurance coverage is mandatory for EVs and their dependents for the duration of the program. Specific minimum coverage provisions for your health insurance policy while in the US must include:

(1)  medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;

(2)  repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500;

(3)  expenses associated with medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $10,000; and

(4)  a deductible not to exceed $500.

Medical insurance must be maintained throughout your entire Exchange Visitor Program.  Failure to maintain the above health insurance minimums will render the EV out of status and constitutes grounds for removal from the program.

Sample Health Insurance Providers:

What do I do when I first arrive in the United States?

First send to the Cordell Hull Foundation:
1. Your current US address and phone no. (temporary or permanent)
2. Proof of Health Insurance coverage

Only after you send this information, will you be cleared to apply for your Social Security Number at the U.S. Social Security administration office 24-48 hours from the next business day after you inform us.  Go online to www.socialsecurity.gov and input your zip code to find the office nearest you.

If you already have obtained a Social Security Number, you must use that older number.  However, you are still not eligible to work in the United States until you provide your immediate contact information and proof of current health insurance.  You can find the specific health insurance requirements on:  http://j1visateachexc.blogspot.com

For more information on obtaining your SSN, see www.cordellhull.com/social-security

IMPORTANT:  After you have your permanent address and cell phone number, you must complete the online CHF Datasheet form which only takes 3 minutes – https://cordellhull.com/datasheet/

Fill in all available information and click the SUBMIT button at the bottom of the page.

How long can I stay in the US if I leave after the first, or second, year?

As we explain at all our new-teacher orientations, your J-1 teacher visa status automatically ends on June 30 of the academic school year. You have a 30-day grace period to stay in the US, until July 30.  During the grace period, you can travel or wrap up your affairs, but not work.  And, of course, if you leave the US during these 30 days, you cannot re-enter in J-1 visa status for two full additional years.