J-1 Student Visas
The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State. J-1 students are expected to contribute to the scholarly exchange of information between the U.S. and their home country. In many cases, they are required to return to the home country for a period of at least two years following study. The J-1 exchange visitor student visa may be used by international students who are:
- funded by their home country government, or
- have been awarded a home country scholarship or grant that requires a J-1 visa, or
- are sponsored by a special U.S. government agency or
- are part of a formal university partnership/exchange agreement between their university and USFSM.
J-1 students may bring their spouse and children to the U.S. if there are sufficient financial resources for their support.
Maintaining J status
J-1 visa regulations require students to:
- Have a valid passport
- Attend the school stated on the DS-2019
- Enroll in a full course of study (12 credits for undergraduate, 9 credits for graduate) and make reasonable progress towards a degree
- Follow certain procedures for: Extension of Stay, Change of Level, and Transfer to other universities or J-1 programs.
- Limit Employment to 20 hours per week while school is in session, 40 hours during breaks and annual vacations.
- Seek International Service office approval prior to accepting any on-campus employment
- Refrain from unauthorized employment
- Report address changes within 10 days of the change in the OASIS system
- Maintain required health insurance
If any of these regulations are not followed and permission for an exception has not been granted, you will be considered “out of status” and in violation of your visa obligations.
There are certain benefits of being “in status”: employment, program extension, transfer of program, academic training. None of these are possible while not in status. It is very important to remain in status to avoid difficulties in the future. If a student should get out of status, it is very important to contact an International Services Advisor to remedy the situation as soon as possible.
Length of Stay
J-1 student status allows students to remain in the U.S. for the duration of the full-time academic program. J-1 students should have “D/S” (Duration of Status) noted on the I-94 (arrival/departure card.) The duration of the program appears on the DS-2019 form as the program begin and end date and includes an additional thirty-day grace period. During the thirty-day grace period, the J-1 student is not eligible for employment, extensions, or transfers.
Extension of Stay
If a J-1 student will not complete their studies in the time noted on the DS-2019 form, the student must request an extension of J-1 student status. J-1 students are eligible for an extension of stay if:
- the student is studying full-time at the institution listed on the DS-2019;
- the student can demonstrate funding for the period of the extension;
- the student is making satisfactory progress towards the completion of the educational program; or is participating in an authorized academic training program;
- the student maintains health insurance during the period of extension;
- USF is the sponsoring J-1 Exchange Visitor program. Students with alternative sponsors such as Fulbright, LASPAU, OAS, should contact the sponsor directly for an extension.
J-1 students are not eligible for a program extension if any of the following applies.
- the student has not been studying full-time or making satisfactory progress toward degree completion
- the student needs more time is due to incompletes, withdrawals, or failing grades
- the student has engaged in unauthorized employment or committed another violation of J-1 regulations
- the student has failed to maintain health insurance while in the U.S. in J-1 status.
When to Extend and Procedures for Filing Extension
J-1 student permission to stay in the U.S. ends 30 days after the date shown in item #3 of the DS-2019. Therefore, J-1 students should apply for an extension at least 15 days prior to the expiration of the DS-2019 using the USF Extension of Stay Request for J-1 students form.
If you will travel outside the United States during your program, you should bring your Form DS-2019 to our office to request a travel signature using the Travel Signature Form. Make sure that you are academically eligible to return to study at USF and that your visa is valid to re-enter the U.S.
J-1 students who extend their stay in the US do not receive a new J-1 visa stamp in their passport, only an updated Form DS-2019. If the student travels during the extension period and the visa stamp is expired, the student may need to apply at a U.S. consulate for a new J-1 in order to reenter the US as a J-1 student.
If your visa has expired, you may still be able to re-enter the U.S. after a visit to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands. Refer to the Travel Outside the United States to Contiguous Territories or Adjacent Islands Handout for more information.
Please see our updated Travel page for additional information.
Employment J-1 Students
A J-1 student must be authorized for employment by an International Advisor at International Services prior to beginning any job whether on or off campus. Employment may be authorized for the purpose of scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship; for other on-campus jobs; internships or practical experience in one’s major field of study; or in rare circumstances for economic hardship.
If the J-1 student is not on a USF sponsored program, the student should contact the Program Sponsor indicated on #2 of the Form DS-2019 for further discussion and information. Services.
A J-1 student who wishes to be employed in a position on campus must be authorized specifically for each position. The following criteria must be met to be eligible for employment authorization:
- Student is in good academic standing;
- Student continues to engage in a full course of study, except for official school breaks and annual vacations;
- Student’s employment totals no more than 20 hours per week, except during official school breaks and the student’s annual vacation, when it may be full time; and
- The Responsible Officer has approved the specific employment in advance and in writing.
Procedures for Employment Authorization:
- Obtain a job offer letter
- Come to International Services and complete a USF SEVIS Record Update Form (link to form). If you do not yet have a Social Security Card, you should also complete a Letter Request Form.
- Within five business days, a letter of authorization for employment will be issued by International Services and your SEVIS record will be updated. No application to Immigration is required, and no stamp on the document DS-2019 is required.
J-1 students in the Exchange Visitor Program are often required to fulfill an internship requirement. Off-campus employment may be authorized for this purpose. Provided that a job offer has been made and the job is specifically related to the major program of study, a student may receive authorization to participate in Academic Training.
Academic Training is an opportunity to gain practical experience while working in the field. The authorization is job-specific, meaning that each job must be approved prior to beginning employment. A student will need to obtain the job first, provide verification that the job is related to the major field of study, and receive written authorization from the Program Sponsor.
Students who wish to be employed for a time after their studies end will need to be prepared ahead of time by beginning their job search early. The approval for the job and any extensions will need to be processed BEFORE the ending date on the Form DS-2019.
All Academic Training is counted as full-time. The time spent working part-time during the academic term on Academic Training counts the same as if it had been full-time.
Time Limitations for Academic Training
Provided that eligibility requirements are met, a J student may be authorized typically for the same amount of time previously spent in the program of study up to 18 months. For example: if a program of study was two semesters (August to May), a student may be authorized for up to 9 months of Academic Training. If a program was 4 years, the student may be authorized for up to 18 months. Post-Doctoral students may obtain permission to work for a total of 36 months following a doctoral program, IF the student was a J student at the sponsoring institution for at 2 years or more.
Two Year Home Residency Requirement
In some cases the J-1 visa carries with it an, often inescapable, condition that requires students to return to their home country for two years upon completion of studies (and academic training) before they are eligible for certain other visas in the U.S., including H-1B and permanent resident status. This “two-year residence” requirement applies to students who receive any funding (including nominal travel grants) from the home government or a U.S. government agency or if trained personnel in the student’s field are identified by the home government as being in short supply and this field has consequently been included on the U.S. government’s “Exchange Visitor’s Skills List.” To determine if a field is on the “Exchange Visitor’s Skills List,” go to the Department of State website.
Transfer of J-1 Program
An Exchange Visitor may transfer from one designated program to another designated program. GEO must verify immigration status and program eligibility, prepare an DS-2019 form and secure the written release of the current sponsor in Section 8 of the new Form DS-2019. The transfer procedures must be completed prior to the end date as noted on the form DS-2019