Guidelines for Non-U.S. Citizens
U.S. citizenship is not required for participation in most of the ORISE Internship/Research Participation Programs at EPA. (Some EPA projects may require citizenship.) If a candidate does not have a current status that permits participation, we may be able to sponsor him/her in the Exchange Visitor (J-1) Program (research scholar and short-term scholar categories only). Students and recent graduates with an F-1 status may also be eligible for participation.
Because the Research Participation Programs are educational/training programs, and not employment programs, ORISE cannot sponsor participants with H-1B status. A selected participant who already holds H-1B status would need to apply and qualify to change to J-1 status in order to join the program. (H-1B status is employer- and site-specific.)
B-1/B-2 statuses are not appropriate for these ORISE programs.
Lawful Permanent Residents
Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders) may participate in ORISE programs. ORISE does not sponsor green card applications, nor do we assist with the process.
The international student and scholar’s office at the candidate’s school will determine if he/she is eligible for curricular or optional practical training authorization. Curricular Practical Training can be authorized by the school and is generally for part-time participation (no more than 20 hours per week). Full-time participation may be authorized by the school during the summer or regular school breaks. Optional Practical Training must be recommended by the school, but must also be authorized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is a lengthy process of up to several months.
ORISE can sponsor J-1 status (research scholar and short-term scholar categories only) for selected, eligible participants who do not already have another appropriate authorization. If a candidate already has a J-1 status and is currently in the United States as a “research scholar,” he/she may be eligible for a transfer from his/her current sponsor’s program.
The maximum duration of a J-1 status depends on the category. ORISE participants generally fall under the category of research scholar. In this case, the J-1 duration can be for up to, but not to exceed, five years. ORISE also uses the short-term scholar category which allows for up to, but not to exceed, six months of participation.
A J-1 exchange visitor’s spouse, and unmarried children under the age of 21 years, may be eligible to apply for J-2 status. A J-2 dependent (if age appropriate) is eligible to apply for authorization to work by requesting an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. ORISE cannot help to obtain visas for other, non-immediate family members who wish to visit, but we can provide a letter that confirms the J-1 participant’s association with our organization.
J-2 dependents with valid EAD cards are eligible to participate in ORISE programs, assuming all other requirements (degree, discipline, etc.) are met. The J-1 program is a non-immigrant program and as such recipients are expected to return to their home country after completing their exchange visitor program. Many J-1 recipients are subject to the two-year home physical presence requirement. It is possible to request a waiver of this requirement. ORISE does not assist with that process. If a participant receives a favorable recommendation for a waiver, he/she will only be eligible to finish the currently authorized J-1 time without extensions or transfers to a different J-1 program.
Health insurance is required for the J-1 recipient and for all J-2 dependents. Failure to maintain the appropriate insurance would result in termination of J-1 authorization for the participant and dependents. Such circumstances would require leaving the program and the United States.
Travel outside the United States is permitted for J-1 recipients, subject to the following conditions:
- As your sponsoring organization, we must validate your DS-2019 form, showing that you are currently in good standing in the Exchange Visitor (J-1) Program. We also prepare a letter that describes your association with our organization and includes approximate dates of departure and return.
- If the travel is for official program business (related to the research project), you will need to obtain ORISE/DOE approval of the trip. ORISE must receive notification of the trip at least 35 days before the travel begins. For more information, please refer to the EPA Research Participant Travel Guidelines.