How to Maintain Your J-1 Status
As a J-1 exchange visitor, you must meet certain obligations to maintain legal immigration status. Maintaining status is necessary to receive the benefits of J-1 status in the future, such as applying for a change of status, if needed. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can result in serious problems with immigration and could lead to deportation from the U.S.
To maintain legal status, a J-1 student must:
- Attend the mandatory immigration check-in program at the International Students & Scholars Office.
- Attend the university you are authorized to attend.
- Complete immigration school transfer procedure when necessary.
- Be in good academic standing and make progress towards an academic program.
- Extend your DS-2019 prior to its expiration date if you are unable to complete your academic program by original expiration date.
- In the event of change of academic program or level, update your DS-2019 in a timely fashion in accordance with immigration regulations.
- Maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year.
- Undergraduate students must enroll for 12 credit hours per term while graduate students must enroll for 8 credit hours (or number of credit hours defined by the specific graduate program) per term.
- Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week during academic year.
- Not accept unauthorized employment and not work off campus without authorization.
- Keep your passport valid at all times. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future on the day you return to the U.S. from a trip abroad.
- Maintain required health insurance coverage.
- Update your current and permanent address information with ISSO.
Health Insurance Requirement
All exchange visitors and their accompanying dependents at UT are required to have health insurance coverage that meets the University’s standards. Your insurance coverage will begin on your DS-2019 program start date (Item 3). If your government or program sponsor is providing you with health insurance, you can apply for a waiver of the mandatory health insurance by submitting an insurance waiver request form and attaching a copy of your health insurance policy. In order for a waiver to be granted, you must apply within 30 days of your check-in and your health insurance coverage must meet specific mandatory standards. U.S. Health insurance is not an option – it is a requirement. For more information, refer to Health Insurance.
Travel Outside the U.S. and Re-entry
When traveling outside the United States, you will need to have the proper documents to return including:
- Passport valid 6 months into the future
- Valid DS-2019 with travel signature less than 1 year old
- Valid J-1 visa (for citizens of certain countries, reentry from Canada, Mexico, and the adjacent islands may be allowed with an expired visa see Automatic Revalidation.
- For more information, consult our Travel Advisory.
Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement (212[e])
Under specific circumstances, a J-1 exchange visitor may incur a Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement. The J-2 dependents are subject to this same requirement if the J-1 visa holder is subject to the requirement. This means that neither the J-1 nor the J-2 may change immigration status to H, L, or Permanent Residency without first returning to his/her country for two years or obtaining a waiver of this requirement. If the Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement applies, change of status to another non-immigrant classification, such as F-1, in the U.S. is prohibited. If the individual is subject to this requirement, the J-1 visa stamp or DS-2019 form will indicated that the bearer is subject to “212(e)”.
For more information about 212(e), refer to Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement and Waiver or to the U.S. Department of State web site.
U.S. government regulations require J-1 students to be in the U.S. for the primary purpose of attending school. In general, employment in the U.S. is restricted. The following employment possibilities exist for J-1 students:
- On-campus employment: Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session and available as full-time during school vacation and holidays. On-campus employment is defined as work done on the premises of the school who issued DS-2019.
- Off-campus employment: Under certain conditions you may be eligible for off-campus employment either based on economic need or academic training. You may not begin the employment unless you have received official authorization from ISSO advisors.