In the third year of participation in the program, teachers may request an extension of one to two years.

The purpose of the extension is to allow teachers and host employers who wish to gain one or two more years of experience to continue teaching at their current school. Transfers to new schools or districts during this period are not permitted.


GEC evaluates all required documents in order to determine the eligibility for program extension. Only interested teachers who maintain a good standing with the host employer and GEC will be considered. Then, the consideration of the program extension will be submitted to the State Department by the visa sponsor (GEC).


Teachers must:

  • Be in the 3rd year of the program.
  • Must be at your current school employer for one school year at the time of application.
  • Complete the Cultural Exchange Activity report for the 3rd year.
  • Maintain a good standing with GEC and the host employer.
  • Not have pursued a change of status to another visa category.


  • Extension applications open:  JAN 1
  • Extension application deadline:  FEB 28


Doc #1: Host School Extension Letter: 

This is a very important document that will greatly impact the result of your application for a program extension. A template is available both in the school and teacher resources in MyGEC. Your host employer will need to compose a letter demonstrating how you have impacted the students and the school in addition to the reason why they would like to extend your program. This letter must be signed by the Superintendent or the authorized administrator of the host school. The letter must be written on official school letterhead AND include your Site of Activity name and address. GEC will reach out to the host school to legitimize this letter. Your application for program extension will be denied by GEC unless your host school can confirm this letter or the content of the letter meets the requirements.

Doc #2: Participant Extension Request Letter

This letter must describe how you have engaged your classroom, the collective host school, or the community through cross-cultural activities over the previous three years. Please also include how you have benefited from the program and why you wish to continue participation in your exchange visitor program. Letters should be no larger than one page in length.

Doc #3:  Signed Fee Transparency Agreement:

Please download and sign the “most recent version” from MyGEC resources.

Doc #4: Payment receipt for the program extension fee :

You can make a payment at this link:


STEP 1:  Sign in to MyGEC to complete the Extension Request Form. At this stage, you will need to upload all required documents to MyGEC and make a payment for the program extension.

STEP 2: GEC will review the extension request. Your payment will be refunded if your application is denied by GEC at this stage.

STEP 3:  GEC will send the program extension file to the Department of State and follow up on the result.  It may take 4-6 weeks for your application to be reviewed by the Department of State. If the application is approved, a new DS2019 form will be issued and uploaded to MyGEC. The result of the application will be shared with both the teacher and the host school.


Participants who have previously pursued a change of status to another visa category are no longer eligible to participate in the Bridge USA J-1 visa program, and extensions are generally denied.

  • Program extension is only possible if your current employer is able to offer you a position. You cannot apply for a program extension to work for a new host employer.
  • At the time of application, you must be at your host school for the entirety of the school year. You will not be eligible to apply for a program extension if you have transferred DURING the third year of the program.
  • Transfers to new schools or districts during this period are not permitted. If the current host employer is unable to offer a position –according to the J-1 Teacher Exchange Program’s regulations- the Exchange Visitor will conclude their participation in that year and is expected to depart the United States no more than 30 days after the Program End Date as confirmed on his/her DS-2019.
  • Fees mentioned in the most recent “Fee Transparency Document” in MyGEC resources will apply to all participants regardless of the year they first applied for the program. During the extension year, you will incur these program fees:
    1. Program extension application: $750
    2. Extended program sponsorship: $1250
    3. Exchange visitor insurance
  • The program extension fee is only refundable if GEC does not approve your extension request. However, it is not refundable if your application for program extension is denied by the Department of State.
  • Once the application for the J-1 visa extension has been accepted you will obtain a new DS-2019 form with a new expiration date. The new expiration date will be recorded with SEVIS. A SEVIS fee is not required for the extension application.
  • J-2 dependents are included with your extension application fee. However, you will still be required to pay annual J-2 program fees and maintain J2 exchange visitor insurance during the extension period.
  • The newly issued DS-2019 will have a new end date and SEVIS will also record the new expiration date. If you have dependents (spouse and/or children) on a J-2 visa, each of your dependents must be issued their own DS-2019.
  • We highly recommend teachers make sure their passports will be valid for the duration of the extension period. It may be difficult to renew your passport in the United States.


You can leave the country at any time that you need to do so. This includes travel to Canada, Mexico, and the adjacent territories if you aren’t going to stay longer than 30 days. If you choose to travel, a valid J-1 visa will need to be stamped in your passport. When your stamp expires, you must ensure that you obtain a new visa because you will be unable to return to the US otherwise.

If the J-1 entry visa stamp in your passport has expired and you plan to travel outside the United States, you must return to a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad to obtain a new J-1 visa. J-1 visas may not be renewed inside the United States. Exchange visitors should generally allow 2-8 weeks for processing.