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Exchange Visiting Teachers Program

///Exchange Visiting Teachers Program
Exchange Visiting Teachers Program 2019-09-27T16:31:24-06:00

The Exchange Visiting Teacher Program allows international teachers to teach in a district or charter school in New Mexico by providing a nonimmigrant J-1 Visa for specified window of time.  The New Mexico Public Education Department(PED) serves as the state’s program Sponsor.

What is the purpose of the Exchange Visitor (EV) Teacher Program, also called the J-1 Visa Exchange Teacher Program?

The purpose of the program is to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange,” per Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, Public Law 87-256, as amended, 22 USC 2451.

Who sponsors the teachers in the EV program?

The Educator Growth and Development Bureau, as a bureau in the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED), serves as the state’s EV Teacher Program sponsor and manages the program. Its designated personnel within the bureau serve as the Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternative Responsible Officers (AROs). The RO or ARO processes the DS-2019 Forms required for obtaining a J-1 non-immigrant visa, works with districts to place EV teachers, and reports to the US Department of State on the status of the EV teachers.

What countries participate in the EV Teachers program with New Mexico?

New Mexico currently has Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with Mexico and Spain.

Can teachers from countries other than Mexico and Spain participate in the Exchange Program?

Per the guidance of the US Department of State (DOS), New Mexico cannot accept teachers in the EV Program from other countries due to the lack of an agreement/or memorandum with the ministry and/or department of education. Interested teachers from other countries are not currently hosted through this EV J-1 Visa Program.

How do districts participate in the program?

Districts interested in hosting an EV teacher through the EV Program must contact the Educator Growth and Development Bureau.

Why does the new teacher regulation released February 29, 2016 require an EV teacher to have at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent?

Every US state requires teachers to have, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree. To prevent an EV teacher from being disadvantaged in his or her host school by having a dissimilar credential to US colleagues, the regulation requires the sponsor to ensure that a prospective EV teacher has at least a degree equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree. Foreign teachers must use a credential evaluation service to demonstrate a degree equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.

When does an Exchange Visitor teacher begin the exchange program?

Per regulation, program dates must coincide with the US academic school year cycle to ensure a smooth transition as exchange teachers arrive and depart. The NMPED as standard practice assigns the program begin date of July 15th of the EV teacher’s first year through July 15th of the EV teacher’s last year.  The host district should ensure the date included in the exchange teacher’s contract coincides with the district’s academic calendar.

Might an exchange teacher begin his or her exchange at a time that does not correspond to the US academic year?

Yes. Although regulation requires that the EV teacher’s program dates coincide with the US academic year cycle, there are a few instances in which an EV teacher may seek to conduct an exchange in the United States on a different year-cycle than the regular US academic year, which usually runs from July/August/September to May/June. In such a situation, the NMPED as sponsor must notify and receive approval from the DOS if an exchange teacher seeks to begin his or her exchange after the start of the US academic year.  The host school must include such alternative dates in its contract with the EV teacher.  Additionally, the host school should provide the same orientation programming and assistance to the incoming exchange teacher as that of an EV teacher arriving at the beginning of the academic school year.

May a foreign teacher, who is currently unemployed, apply to the J-1 Visa Exchange Teacher Program?

A foreign teacher, who is not currently working, may participate in the program if he or she: (i) has at least a degree equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree, (ii) has two years of teaching experience within the past eight years, and (iii) has successfully completed an advanced degree beyond the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree within one year of the date upon which his or her program application is submitted. This exception acknowledges that a prospective EV teacher might wish to complete an advanced degree and follow-up this degree by taking the opportunity to teach abroad for a period of time soon thereafter, before that teacher continues a teaching career in his or her home country.  The advanced degree must be in the field of education, in the subject field (or a closely related one) that the EV teacher proposes to teach while in the United States.

To conduct the required international dialogue aspect of the cross-cultural activity component, the EV teacher who is not currently working but is participating in the program as a result of having recently completed an advanced degree as outlined in (iii) above-must locate and cooperate with a school, preferably in his or her home country.

May an EV teacher fill a permanent teaching position?

Yes, if the EV teacher’s appointment at the host school is temporary. Because the EV Program is an educational and cultural program, the sponsor and host district must ensure that an EV teacher’s appointment at the host school is temporary, even if the host school teaching position is permanent.  At this time, EV teachers in the New Mexico EV Teacher Program should teach classes primarily in his or her home language of Spanish.

Can an EV teacher be accompanied by dependents, and who is considered an eligible dependent for a non-immigrant J-2 visa?

A J-2 visa is issued to the EV’s accompanying spouse and dependents, if qualified under § 214b of the Immigration and Nationality Act and is linked to the J-1 non-immigrant visa issued to EV teachers. As J-2 non-immigrant visa holders, eligible dependents are dependent upon the status of the EV teacher who is the principle J-1 non-immigrant visa holder.  22 CFR § 62.2 defines an accompanying spouse or dependent as the alien spouse and/or minor unmarried child(ren) of an EV who are accompanying or following to join the EV, who seek to enter or have entered the US temporarily or non-immigrant J-2 visas, or seek to acquire or have acquired such status after admission.  For the purpose of these regulations, a minor is a person under the age of 21 years.

Can an EV teacher, currently, in the US, return home for one school year and then return on a J-1 Visa to teach in the US again?

No, an EV teacher must reside outside the US for at least two years following the successful completion of his or her most recent teacher exchange program before again participating in the EV Teacher Program.

How many years of prior teaching experience must teachers from Mexico or Spain have to be eligible for the J-1 teacher exchange program?

The current requirement for eligibility is a least two years of prior teaching experience, as set forth in 22 CFR § 62.24(d)(1)(i) and (ii).

Is a citizen of Mexico or Spain, who is currently teaching in another country, eligible to apply to be a J-1 EV teacher in New Mexico? Secondly, can a citizen of a country other than Mexico or Spain, who is teaching and who has lawful temporary residence in Mexico or Spain, participate as a J-1 EV teacher in New Mexico?

The regulation (22 CFR § 62.24(c)(3)) defines home country school as “[a]n exchange teacher’s school in his or her country of nationality or last legal country of residence.”

If a Mexican or Spanish teacher is currently teaching in Mexico or Spain and he or she has citizenship or lawful permanent residence, then that teacher is eligible for the J-1 Visa Teacher Exchange Program in New Mexico. In addition, if a teacher can document that he or she is currently teaching in Mexico or Spain and has lawful temporary residence, then, he or she is also eligible for the J-1 Visa Teacher Exchange Program in New Mexico.  For example, a Spanish teacher working in a French school in Vanuatu outside of Spain would be eligible for the program, provided that he or she meets all EV teacher eligibility requirements. The school at which the teacher is teaching in his or her country of lawful residence is permitted to be the teacher’s “home school” and the teacher may conduct the virtual part of the cultural component with that school, or the teacher may conduct it with his or her school in the country of nationality.

However, a teacher living in a third country who is not employed as a teacher is not eligible for the program, unless he or she qualifies under 22 CFR 62 .24(d)(1)(ii) by virtue of having recently graduated from an advanced degree program

How can a host school or district calculate the mandatory deductions figure for Exchange Visitor teachers?

Most EV teachers do not know their exact salary until they arrive and all their credentials are analyzed. In accordance with 22 CFR § 62.24(g)(2), for purposes of clarity, EV teachers should be provided with a tax estimate so that EV teachers can be aware of what deductions are made from their gross salary and plan accordingly.  Therefore, general deduction percentages should be shared with EV teachers in the required disclosure.

Does the mandatory full-time (32-hours) teaching rule apply to all Exchange Visitor teachers?

The 32-hour rule applies to all EV teachers on the J-1 Visa Exchange Teacher Program. Under 22 CFR §  62.24(d)(5), as part of their eligibility requirements, exchange teachers on the J-1 program “[a]gree to come to the United States temporarily as a full-time teacher of record in an accredited primary or secondary school.”

Full-time teaching is defined in 22 CFR § 62.24(c)(2) as a “minimum of 32 hours per week of teaching or teaching-related administrative activities.”

Statute 22 CFR § 62.24(h) specifies that EV teachers must complete a cross-cultural activity component. Does this mean that exchange teachers are required to create/organize/lead a cultural activity during their US placements? 

Yes, EV teachers must complete, within the US, and during each academic year of program participation, at least one cross-cultural activity from each of the two categories listed in 22 CFR § 62.24(h) and submit them in a report to the Educator Growth and Development Bureau.

Why is there a cross-cultural component for Exchange Visitor teachers?

The mission of the Federal Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which oversees the EV Teacher Program under the Fulbright-Hays Act, is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through educational and cultural exchanges that support the development of peaceful relations. In keeping with this authority, the new regulation strives to ensure that its EV teachers meet and convey knowledge to large numbers of US students and community members.

What does the virtual cross-cultural activity mean?

Statute 22 CFR § 62.24(h)(1)(ii) specifies that EV teachers must complete a cross-cultural activity component. Does this mean that exchange teachers are required to create/organize/lead a cultural activity during their US placements?

Yes, EV teachers must complete, within the US, and during each academic year of program participation, at least one cross-cultural activity from each of the two categories listed in 22 CFR § 62.24(h) and submit them in a report to the PED.

EV teachers are required to supplement the goals of the in-person exchange, through virtual exchange or other means. The virtual activity is one element of their cross-cultural component that involves US students’ dialogue with schools or students in another country, preferably in the EV Teacher’s home school. This activity is required of EV teachers by 22 CFR § 62.24(h)(1)(ii).

A virtual exchange is defined in 22 CFR § 62.24(c)(7) as a “technology-enabled, sustained, people-to-people cross-cultural educational program that may supplement the goals of an in-person exchange and integrates global knowledge, cultural awareness, and/or foreign language into the classroom or other setting.”

Two examples of virtual exchanges are as follows: (1) Students in the EV teacher’s home and host schools work together online and through e-mail to complete a news-magazine that covers an interesting topic relevant in both the teacher’s home country and the US; (2) students in the EV teacher’s home and host schools collaborate through a virtual joint classroom session: US students practice a foreign language with students of their own age in the exchange teacher’s home school, and students abroad have an opportunity to practice their English with the teacher’s host school students in the US.

How does an EV teacher request an extension of one or two years beyond the three year stay?

The New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) will notify host district of the EV teachers who are eligible for program extension beyond three years in the spring of an Exchange Visitor teacher’s third year in the program.  The NMPED makes effectiveness determinations based on the summative evaluation of teachers, as per the NMTEACH Educator Effectiveness system. Only teachers with an effectiveness rating of effective or above will be eligible for an extension.

How early in the third year may an extension be requested?

A sponsor must submit the requests for extensions beyond the maximum duration of eligible EV teachers to the US Department of State no later than three months prior to an EV teacher’s program end date (22 CFR 62.24(k)(3)).

When requesting a program extension, is an EV teacher required to submit a copy of their cross-cultural activity Report?

Yes, Annual Cross Cultural Activity Reports—as per 22 CFR § 62.24(k) Program extensions—that reflect the full three years of contributions. The sponsor is required to submit to the DOS three documents: (1) a letter of reference written on official letterhead by the host school or host district administrator that describes the EV teacher’s performance and contributions; (2) a document that describes how the EV teacher has contributed cross-culturally to the host community over the past three years through the cross-cultural activity component—22 CFR § 62.24(h); and (3) proof of payment of the required non-refundable extension fee, as per 22 CFR § 62.17.

After the NMPED submits a request for an extension, how long will it take the DOS to notify the sponsor if the extension has been granted?

The DOS expects the review and granting of an extension to take approximately four to six weeks, though in some cases it may take longer.

Can a J-1 Visa sponsor set any additional requirements beyond the Program Extension section of the regulation (22 CFR § 62.24(k)) when recommending exchange teachers for an extension into the fourth and fifth year? In addition to the two required documents and non-refundable fee, might, for example, a parameter on state teacher performance evaluations?

Yes, the sponsor may set requirements that are in addition to the requirements of the regulation. However, any additional requirements may not replace or countermand requirements set forth in 22 CFR Part 62. The NMPED makes effectiveness determinations based on the summative evaluation of teachers, per the NMTEACH Educator Effectiveness system.  Only teachers with an effectiveness rating of effective or above will be eligible for an extension.

Is an extension guaranteed?

No, the NMPED must review host school or district extension letters and supporting materials and send extension applications they support to the US DOS for review. Further, requests for extension are not guaranteed to be approved at the federal level.  The DOS expects to grant extensions only if a host school can demonstrate that their J-1 EV teacher has had and effective exchange in the first three years and highly recommends that teacher for an extension.

How many years can J-1, EV teachers participate in the EV Teacher Program?

As set forth in 22 CFR § 62.24(j), for teachers, the maximum exchange duration is three years, after which the exchange teacher is required to return home for two years before he or she can apply to return to the US on a subsequent teacher exchange (see 22 CFR § 62.24(l)).

However, EV teachers who meet the eligibility requirements and whose host school/district completes the extension request with supporting documentation may be eligible for a program extension for up to two years.

As standard practice, the NMPED provides selected EV teachers with a three-year J-1 non-immigrant visa and assigns a program begin date of July 15 of the EV teacher’s first year and an end date of July 15 of the EV teacher’s last year.  As the sponsor, the NMPED reserves the right to change, shorten, or otherwise modify an EV teacher’s program and/or terminate an EV teacher.  However, such modifications will not replace or countermand requirements set forth in 22 CFR § Part 62.

How many times can a teacher return to the US with a J-1 Visa?

There is no limit if an EV teacher has resided outside the United States for at least two years, as set forth in 22 CFR § 62.24(l) and the teacher remains eligible per the regulatory requirements.

Can an EV teacher complete his/her three years of exchange in one state and immediately apply for participation in another state’s education system (without the two intervening years of residence outside the US)? 

No. An EV teacher may not “extend” his/her three-year exchange into a different exchange. The extension must be in the school or school district of the initial exchange. If an exchange teacher completes the three years and is either not eligible for program extension or does not wish to extend that exchange, the J-1 exchange teacher has completed his or her program and must return home.

What steps does an EV teacher who already has a Social Security number and is returning to the US need to take?

Previous exchange teachers who have successfully completed (i.e., concluded) their exchange program, must fulfill the two-year home country physical presence requirement. However, if after meeting the residency requirement, the EV teacher is selected to participate in the program again, the EV teacher must report to the NMPED and inform them of his/her status.

What should an EV teacher do if his/her visa status changes during his/her teacher program?

The EV teacher must inform NMPED-Educator Growth and Development Bureau of any changes to his or her visa status.

Application for Letter of No Objection 7-2019

Resources

PROCESS FOR REQUESTING A LETTER OF NO OBJECTION REQUEST

If you are a sponsor, recruiter, or representative at a placement agency seeking a Letter of No Objection for a J1 Visa, please complete the application linked below.  Questions about requesting a Letter of No Objection for J1 Visa Sponsors and Recruiters/Placement Agencies should be directed to Seana Flanagan at seana.flanagan@state.nm.us or 505-827-4522.

Letter of No Objection Request Form

Letter of No Objection FAQs

APPROVED APPLICATIONS FOR SPONSORS AND RECRUITERS

To view complete applications for a Letter of No Objection for a J1 Visa, please click on the  organization name below .

Page last updated September 27, 2019