If the individual is outside the U.S.
Upon approval of the appointment by the Office of the Dean of Faculty (and provided we have a completed Visa Information Form and all other necessary information) we issue a Certificate of Eligibility/DS-2019 using the Student & Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS) which is at least an overnight process and send it to the individual by regular airmail unless the host department makes arrangements for courier service. The individual pays a $180 SEVIS fee and makes an appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The individual appears for the interview/appointment and the visa is issued. Some individuals will have to undergo additional security clearances before a visa can be issued that may take weeks-months.
If the individual is transferring J-1 status from another U.S. institution
Upon approval of the appointment by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, OVS will contact the current J-1 program sponsor and request the transfer to Princeton effective on the appointment start date. The individual will need to follow instructions from that institution for transferring out from their J-1 program.
On the effective date of the transfer/start date at Princeton (but not before this date as when individuals are coming from outside the U.S.), OVS will be able to access the U.S. government database (SEVIS) and print a new DS-2019 for the appointment at Princeton and give it to the individual. Because of the electronic nature of the transfer process, travel outside the U.S. between J-1 stays is difficult. Because there can be no gap in dates in the J-1 program, the individual must end at one institution and begin at the next institution the next day. Travel outside the U.S. would require negotiation of vacation time at the end of one program or the beginning of the next.
If the individual is in the U.S. in another status and wants to change status to J-1 inside the U.S.
Changes of status to J-1 inside the U.S. may be done by application to the USCIS. The individual is required to file a Form I-539 Application for Change of Nonimmigrant Status with the DS-2019, a filing fee and supporting documentation. However, the processing time for changes of status to J-1 are unpredictable and usually take many months (3-5). Therefore, unless sufficient lead time is available for the process, it is usually recommended that the individual travel outside the U.S., apply for the J-1 visa and re-enter the U.S. in J-1 status.