As a J-1 Scholar (professor, researcher, short-term scholar or specialist), your employment in the United States is limited to the activity described on your DS-2019 form.  

However, the occasional lecture or short-term consultation is permitted, but only with prior written approval from your J-1 Responsible Officer.  If Yale issued your DS-2019 form, OISS will issue this letter; if your J-1 sponsor is an external agency or organization, you will need permission from this organization.   A request for authorization to engage in an occasional lecture or short term consultation will be possible only if the proposed activity:

  • is directly related to the objectives of your Exchange Visitor program; and
  • is incidental to your primary program activities and will not delay the completion of your Exchange Visitor program.

To obtain authorization, you must present (in person or by email) the following to your OISS Adviser (J-1 Responsible Officer - see above) in advance of the date of the proposed activity.

  • A letter (or email) from the host institution or organization containing a description of the terms and conditions of the proposed lecture or consultation,  including the date or duration of the activity and the amount of compensation, as well as the address where the activity will take place.
  • A letter (or email) from your department head or supervisor explaining how it is directly related and incidental to your principal activity and confirming that it will not delay the completion of your Exchange Visitor program.

Your authorization will be in the form of letter to you from your J-1 Responsible Officer. The inviting organization will need a copy of this letter in order to pay you an honorarium. You should keep a copy for your permanent record.

According to the Code of Federal Regulations 8 CFR 274 (a) (f) the term employee means an individual who provides services or labor for wages or other types of remuneration.Therefore employment is work performed or services provided with the expectation that there will be compensation, either financial or other. “Volunteer work” on the other hand refers to philanthropic activity without financial gain.  

The most important employment issue that you always need to keep in mind is the issue of legal (or “authorized”) versus illegal (or “unauthorized”) employment. You must always make sure that any employment you plan to engage in is legal employment. Any unauthorized (i.e. illegal) employment - even for one day - even if you did not know it was illegal - poses a grave threat to your ability to remain in or return to the United States. And you must always make sure that you have the necessary employment authorization before you begin work, since starting work without prior authorization-even if you receive authorization later-constitutes illegal employment.  If you have questions, always consult with an OISS adviser before beginning any employment. This is the only way to be sure that you won’t engage in illegal employment, with all of its adverse consequences for your future in the United States.