J1 Visa

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

1. What is J-1 visa?

The J-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. to participate in exchange programs to promote the sharing of knowledge and skills in education, arts and sciences.

J-1 visas are of two types:

  1. J-1 visas that do not have a restriction known as ‘Home Residency Requirement’ (HRR)
  2. J-1 visas that have the HRR restriction

2. Who are eligible for J-1 visa?

Applicants eligible for J-1 visa are:

  1. Students at all academic levels
  2. Trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and agencies
  3. Teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools
  4. Professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning
  5. Research scholars
  6. Professional trainees in the medical and allied fields
  7. International visitors coming for the purpose of travel, observation, consultation, research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs
  8. au pairs
  9. Summer camp counselors
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3. What privileges do I enjoy on J-1 visa?

On J-1 visa, you may:

  1. Enter the U.S. and participate in exchange visitor program approved by the U.S. Department of State
  2. Travel in and out of the U.S. or remain in the U.S. continuously till the completion of your exchange visitor program
  3. Apply for dependent visas for your spouse as well as unmarried dependant children under 21
  4. Work legally in the U.S. if work is part of your approved program or if you receive permission to work from the official program sponsor
  5. Apply for and receive work permits for accompanying relatives

4. What are the limitations of J-1 visa?

On J-1 visa, you must:

  1. Restrict yourself to studying, working or other wise participating in the special exchange program for which your visa has been approved
  2. First be accepted as a participant in the program approved by the DOS before you apply for J-1 visa
  3. Return to your home country for at least two years before you are permitted to get a Green Card or change to another nonimmigrant visa status. This is true if you are an exchange visitor participating in a certain type of program

5. How long can I stay in the U.S. on J-1 visa?

When you enter the U.S. on an exchange visitor visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your program. The final decision on how long you may stay in the U.S. is made by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Inspector at the port of entry/airport.

6. Can I extend my stay on J-1 visa?

Yes, you may apply for J1 visa extension, which may be granted as long as it is necessary to complete the program. However, extensions for J-1 are not easy because the length of the stay is usually granted for the period considered reasonable for the type of program.

7. What is the process to extend or change my status, or change programs?

The Program Designation State Department Branch in the Bureau of Education, Cultural Exchanges and Academic Programs (ECA) handles J1 visa extension, category changes, and program transfers. You will need to contact them directly if you have further questions about one of these issues. They can be reached at 202-401-9810.

8. Can I study on J-1 visa?

Yes, you may study while on J-1 visa. However, unless you area J-1 student you may not join a full length program like an F-1. You may take up a few credits at a University when they do not harm the primary interest of the visa.

9. How do I apply for J-1 student visa?

To apply for J-1 visa, the documents required are:

  1. Three copies of Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, obtained from the sponsor of the exchange programs
  2. Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended
  3. Financial evidence showing you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study. If you are funding the exchange visit out of personal funds, original bank books and the like are the clearest evidence of adequate funds
  4. Completed nonimmigrant visa application Form DS-160 with photo (37x37mm and taken within the last six months) for each person applying
  5. A separate form is needed for children, even if they are included in a parent’s passport. These forms are available online at no charge
  6. Signed passport valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the U.S.

10. Where do I apply for J-1 visa?

You may submit your J-1 visa application to:

  1. A USCIS Service Center in the U.S. as a change of status request if you are in a lawful status in the U.S.
  2. An American Consulate near your place of residence in your home country if you are outside the U.S.

11. What is the processing time for J-1 visa?

J-1 visa is generally issued within 30 days from the day the application is submitted. Depending upon the backlog at the American Consulate where you have submitted the application it may take up to 60 days.

12. Can I change status while on J-1 visa?

Exchange visitors participating in certain types of programs may be required to return to their home countries for at least two years before they are permitted to adjust status from J-1 visa to Green Card or apply for change of status. If not subject to the home residency requirment you may change status in the U.S.

13. Can I apply for Green Card while on J-1 visa?

You may apply for an immigrant status in the U.S. through the following options if you are not subject to the HRR:

  1. Family Based Immigration: If you have close relatives who are U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents, the relatives may file an immigration petition for you as the beneficiary.
  2. Employment Based Immigration(Labor Certification): You may find an employer who is willing to file a Labor Certificate for you with the DOL.
  3. EB-1: You may also file an immigration petition based on the classification of ‘Alien of Extraordinary Ability’ – EB-1(A) or ‘Outstanding Professor/Researcher’ – EB-1(B)
  4. National Interest Waiver: You may also file an immigration petition through a ‘National Interest Waiver’ (NIW). National interest waivers are available to foreign nationals who are seeking work in a profession and who have an advanced degree (or equivalent experience) or can prove themselves as ‘aliens of exceptional ability’.

Note: If you are subject to the HRR you must get a waiver before applying for immigrant status.

14. Can I bring my dependents on J-1 visa?

Yes, you may bring your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 on    J-2 dependent visa.

15. Can my dependents work on J-1 visas?

Yes, your dependents may work in the U.S. on J-1 visas if they receive special permission from the USCIS and the money is not needed to support you.

16. Can my dependents study on J-1 visa?

Yes, your dependents may study on J-1 visa. They don’t have to apply for a separate student visa.

17. Are there any travel restrictions on J-1 visa?

No, there are no travel restrictions on J-1 visa. You may plan with your employer and travel out of the U.S. any number of times while on valid J-1 visa.

18. What is the 'Two-Year Rule' on J-1 visa?

The ‘Two-Year Rule’ is the common term used for a section of immigration law which requires that many exchange visitors return to their home country and be physically present there for at least two years after the conclusion of their exchange visit before they can be issued certain types of nonimmigrant visas, specifically H-1L-1K-1 and immigrant visas.

19. Can the 'Two-Year Rule' be waived?

Yes, you may be able to obtain a J-1 waiver if you are subject to the Two-Year Rule requirement, and thus be eligible to apply for visas normally prohibited for applicants subject to the Two Year Rule.

Waivers of the Two-Year Rule are adjudicated only by the Department of State’s Visa Office. This Visa Office is also the final authority on whether an applicant is actually subject to the Rule, regardless of whether it was annotated in your passport or not.

Note: Even if subject to the two year rule, you may still qualify for the issuance of a tourist visa, or any other nonimmigrant visa except for those noted above.

20. What other information is available about J-1 visa eligibility?

Keep in mind that:

1. J-1 exchange visitors must have sufficient scholastic preparation to participate in the designated international student exchange programs, including knowledge of the English language, or the exchange program must be designed to accommodate Non-English speaking participants

2. Exchange visitors coming for graduate medical education or training must:

a. Pass the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in Medical Sciences

b. Demonstrate competency in English

3. Physicians coming to the U.S. on exchange visitor programs for the purpose of observation, consultation, teaching, or research in which there is little or no patient care are subject to the same requirements

4. The holder of an exchange visitor J-1 visa may enter the U.S. up to 90 days before the designated start date on the DS-2019. He or she may remain for up to 30 days following the completion of the program

21. What is the Foreign Residency Requirement on J-1 visa?

You are subject to a requirement that you return to your home country to share with your countrymen the knowledge, experience and impressions gained during your stay in the U.S. Unless the USCIS approves a waiver for this requirement, you must depart from the U.S. and live in your country of residence for two years before you are allowed to apply for an immigrant visa, permanent residence, or change to H or L nonimmigrant status.

22. On what grounds is the Foreign Residency Requirement waived for J-1 visa?

The Foreign Residency Requirement may be waived in the following instances:

1. ‘No Objection’ Letter: The foreign residency requirement may be waived provided your home country’s government issues a ‘no objection’ letter to the U.S. State Department indicating that it does not object to the waiver grant

2. Exception: A waiver is generally not available to medical residents/interns who received medical training in the U.S.

3. Interested Government Agency Request (IGA): An IGA may request that the U.S. State Department waive the Foreign Residency Requirement. Both the U.S. State Department and the USCIS must agree to grant the waiver

4. Threat of Persecution: If you can establish that you will suffer persecution upon return to your home country, the foreign residency requirement will be waived. The threat of persecution needs to be based on:

a. Race

b. Religion

c. Political Opinion

5. Hardship: If complying with the Foreign Residency Requirements imposes exceptional hardship on your spouse or child, and the spouse or child is a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident

6. Designated State Health Agency Request: A designated State Health Agency or its equivalent may request a waiver on behalf of medical doctors who have been offered a full-time job with a health care facility serving an area with a shortage of medical professionals. In order to qualify for the waiver, the person must agree in writing to work at the facility for forty hours per week, for a minimum of three years and must begin work at the health care facility within ninety days of the waiver approval

23. Who pays the J-1 training visa program fee?

The Council Exchanges expect that the employer (either the U.S. branch of the company, or the branch in the home country) would pay the J-1 training visa program fee.

24. Does receiving J-1 visa affect a trainee's chances of getting other visas?

As long as trainees abide by all the terms of the J-1 visa, they should not be precluded from applying for other visa types. Please bear in mind that trainees are expected to return to their home countries at the conclusion of their training, according to the J-1 visa regulations. In some countries, a two year home residency may be required.

25. Is health insurance a requirement for J-1 scholars?

Yes, the Department of State requires all J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents to have health insurance in order to stay in the U.S.

26. How do I determine my current legal status in the U.S. as a J-1 status holder?

The Exchange Program Period that is marked on your Form DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility determines the length of your legal stay within the U.S.

27. What is the grace period on J-1 visa?

As J-1 exchange visitor, you are permitted to remain in the country up to 30 days past the end date of your Form DS-2019 . This time is to allow you time for tourism and packing. You do not have work authorization during this time. If you require additional time to complete your project, request both DS-2019 extension, if eligible, before your grace period begins.

28. Can I leave and re-enter the U.S. if my DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility, and I-94, Arrival-Departure document, are still valid but my visa has expired?

Yes, but you will need a new visa to re-enter the U.S. Reapplying for a J-1 or J-2 visa may be risky in some countries.

29. I am a J-1 student. How long can I participate in practical training upon completion of my degree program?

The length of time varies depending on the degree awarded. If you have received your baccalaureate/ master’s degree you may enter a training program for a maximum period of 18 months, while post-doctoral individuals can receive practical training for a maximum period of 36 months.

30. Can I change status to J-1 student from J-1 researcher?

Yes, you may change status from J-1 researcher to J-1 student, however, some program sponsors require you to go abroad and apply for another J-1 visa under the new program before allowing you to change your status.

31. Can I change from short term J-1 researcher to long-term J-1 researcher?

Yes, you may. However, some sponsors may require you to obtain a new visa and re-enter the U.S. before allowing you to change your status.

32. What is the relationship between a J-1 visa and an O-1 visa?

There is no direct relationship between a J-1 visa and an O-1 visa. While on J-1 status, if you are not able to obtain a J-1 waiver before your maximum term expires, your employer may apply for an O-1 visa on your behalf and you may go abroad to obtain an O-1 visa.

33. What are my chances of obtaining a J-1 visa waiver?

Obtaining a J-1 waiver varies for every individual. Every case needs to be determined on its own merits. It is impossible to predict whether your J-1 waiver request will be granted. However, a well prepared application along with strong supporting documentation will always improve your chances.

34. What role does the United States Information Agency (USIA) play in determining J-1 waivers?

Prior to 1999, the USIA handled all J-1 waivers. The agency was abolished and all J-1 Waivers are now under the jurisdiction of the U.S. State Department, Waiver Review Division.

35. If I have been denied a National Interest Waiver, will I be able to obtain a J-1 waiver?

It depends. The National Interest Waiver and J-1 Waiver application process are determined independently of one another. One petition does not affect the other.

36. Can I self-petition for a J-1 visa waiver?

Yes, you are eligible to self-petition for either Persecution or a Hardship Waiver. However, a No Objection Letter Waiver request must be made by your home country or country of last permanent residence. Additionally, an IGA Waiver request must be made on your behalf by an interested government agency.

37. When should I start the No-Objection Process for J-1 waiver and how long does it take?

Each home country has a different policy regarding when to initiate the No-Objection Process. The period of the No-Objection process depends on your particular home country. Some countries process the letter quickly and provide you with a response in a few months, other require up to six months for a No-Objection determination.

38. What is an IGA waiver on J-1?

An IGA Waiver is obtained through sponsorship of an Interested Government Agency (IGA). Generally, the potential sponsoring IGA is a U.S. government agency that financially supports your program or has a strong interest in your area of research or study. An effective way to identify an IGA is to trace your program funding.

39. When is a good time to begin an IGA waiver for J-1?

Timing is very important for IGA Waivers. Usually, an IGA waiver is initiated towards the latter stage of the individual’s program. For example, a J visiting researcher or professor program may be extended for three or more years. In this example, the IGA Waiver should be initiated at the end of year two.

40. Why should I wait until the latter stages of the program to begin IGA Waiver for J-1?

There are three reasons for this:

  1. Basis for your IGA is your claim that you are an important part of the research program and your anticipated absence, due to the limited duration of the J-1 program, will jeopardize the research project
  2. Some time is necessary for you to publish articles that is necessary supporting evidence for your application
  3. You may need time to become acquainted with your project colleagues who will be writing recommendation letters on your behalf

41. How long does an IGA waiver take?

You must first obtain a case number (which can take about a month). The amount of time required to obtain the IGA recommendations depends on each particular IGA. After the IGA recommendations are received, the State Department then reviews the case (four-five months). The State Department then forwards its recommendation to the appropriate USCIS Center. Different USCIS centers have different review processing times.

42. What should I do if my time to process an IGA Waiver or No-Objection Letter has run out?

You should request your program sponsor to extend your program to the maximum program duration. If you are about to reach the maximum duration period, you should consider an F-1 program and obtain USCIS Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. In the alternative, if an employer is willing to sponsor you for an O-1 visa, you may apply for an O-1 visa.

43. How can I obtain a No Objection statement and where should I forward it?

You may contact the consular section of your embassy in Washington, D.C., and request a No Objection statement to be forwarded to the Department of State on your behalf. The Embassy must forward the No Objection statement directly to the Waiver Review Division at the Department of State.

44. Can I request for a No Objection statement while in the application process?

You may request a No Objection statement only after you have submitted your data sheet and fee, and received an information packet from the Waiver Review Division of the Department of State.

45. If I am unable to obtain a No Objection statement for J-1 waiver from my former country of residence, what will be my status?

You may apply for a waiver in any of the remaining statutory bases. If none of the other bases applies to your situation, you must return home to fulfill the foreign residence requirement.

46. Based on the No Objection obtained from my host country can I apply for a J-1 waiver if I am a foreign medical graduate?

No, foreign medical graduates sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) to do their clinical training cannot apply for a waiver based on a No Objection statement.

47. Based on a No Objection statement from the home government, why are foreign medical graduates ineligible to apply for a waiver?

In accordance with Public Law 94-484, exchange visitor physicians who are admitted to the U.S. in exchange visitor status, or who acquire such status after admission on or after January 10, 1977, for the purpose of receiving graduate medical education or training are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement of Section 212(e) of the INA. Before your medical training under the sponsorship of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), your home country must provide a letter of need attesting to that country’s requirement for trained physicians. Therefore, the exchange visitor physicians are not eligible to apply based on No Objection statements.

48. When do I know that the No Objection statement is received?

You can ask the embassy from which you requested the No Objection statement if it has been sent to the Waiver Review Division. The Waiver Review Division unfortunately does not have the resources to notify you when a No Objection letter has been received on your behalf.

49. In a situation when my application for "no-objection" statement is denied, will it be reconsidered?

No, J1 waiver applications are exhaustively considered, and it is the policy of the Waiver Review Division not to reconsider No Objection statement applications once a final determination has been made. You may, however, reapply using another statutory basis for waiver should another one apply to your situation.

50. Based on an interested U.S. government agency (IGA) application, what are the requirements for J-1 visa waivers?

You will require:

1. A letter from the designated official of the interested U.S. Government agency explaining why:

a. Granting such a waiver is in the public interest of the U.S.

b. It would be detrimental to the agency if you return to your home country to fulfill the two-year requirement

2. All DS-2019 Forms, the data sheet application, and two self-addressed stamped envelopes

51. Based on the fear of persecution if I return to my home country, how do I apply for a waiver?

Apply directly to the USCIS on Form I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement. If your waiver is granted, USCIS will notify you directly.

52. Can I apply for a J-1 waiver based on my twin fear of persecution and the exceptional hardship that could be faced by my family on my returning to the home country?

No, persecution claims should never be intertwined with claims of exceptional hardship.

53. Based on the fear of persecution, how do I check on the status of my application?

You may call 202-663-1600. If additional documentation is needed, the Waiver Review Division will contact you directly. When a final determination has been made, you will be notified. Until you hear from the Waiver Review Division, therefore, the status of your case is considered ‘open’. You should make whatever plans you need to make regarding your work, life in the U.S. or return to your home country on the assumption that you will not be recommended for a waiver.

54. Can I apply for a waiver based on the exceptional hardship my American citizen or permanent resident family members would face if I return to the home country?

Apply directly to the USCIS on Form I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement.

55. Based on exceptional hardship, how do I check on the status of my application?

You may call 202-663-1600. If additional documentation is needed, the Waiver Review Division will contact you directly. When a final determination has been made, you will be notified. Until you hear from the Waiver Review Office, therefore, the status of your case is considered “open.” You should make whatever plans you need to make regarding your work, life in the U.S. or return to your home country on the assumption that you will not be recommended for a waiver.

56. On behalf of the foreign medical graduates, what are the government agencies who can apply for the waiver?

The following government agencies may apply for waiver:

  1. Appalachian Regional Commission
  2. Department of Agriculture
  3. Department of Veterans Affairs
  4. Department of Interior for Indian Reservations
  5. Individual’s State department of health that participates in the Conrad State 30 program

57. What are the U.S. government agencies who can apply for the waiver on behalf of the J-1 exchange visitors?

The following U.S. government agencies may apply for J-1 waiver:

  1. Department of Education for teachers/professors
  2. Department of Health and Human Services for medical researchers, pharmacy research, pediatrics/endocrinology researchers
  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture for workers in the fields of agricultural economics, food processing, animal science, agronomy, agricultural and comparative pathology fields
  4. Department of Energy for physicists working in the fields of mineral/metallurgical engineering, nuclear engineering, treatment and disposal of radioactive wastes
  5. Department of Defense for workers in the fields of computers, economics or electrical engineering
  6. National Aeronautics and Space Administration for workers in air/space fields
  7. Department of Interior for environmental specialists and civil engineers
  8. Department of Transportation for workers in the fields of chemical/civil engineering, aviation
  9. National Science Foundation for physicists, atmospheric earth scientists, economics specialists, and specialists in science education
  10. Environmental Protection Agency for environmental engineers and others

58. As a J-1 exchange visitor, how do I get an extension for the 30-day voluntary departure status?

You will need to contact the USCIS for an extension of the 30-day, post-program, voluntary departure status period.

59. Who should pay the processing fee for J-1 visa?

The processing fee for J-1 visa is paid only by the applicant, not the dependent spouse or children.

60. What is the time taken to arrive at a decision on whether a J-1 waiver will be recommended?

The processing times vary depending on the type of application you have submitted.

61. Do I receive a notification from the Waiver Review Division when my J-1 waiver application is submitted to the USCIS?

Yes, you will receive a copy of the recommendation.

62. Will I be informed about the reason why my J-1 waiver application is denied?

Yes, the Waiver Division will inform you why your J-1 waiver application was rejected.

63. What are the possible reasons for denial of the J-1 waiver applications?

Applications are denied because the reasons given for requesting the waiver do not outweigh the program and policy considerations of the exchange visitor program. For this reason, No Objection applications in Fulbright/USAID funded programs are generally denied.

64. What is the process followed by the Waiver Review Division on the status of appeals on denials and unfavorable recommendations of a J-1 waiver?

There is an internal agency review process but there is no formal appeal process for the applicant. However, you may be eligible to reapply based on another statutory ground. For example, if the first application was based on a No Objection statement from your home country, you can reapply based on:

  1. An interested U.S. Government agency (IGA) request
  2. Claim of exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child
  3. Fear of persecution if you are required to return to your home country

65. Can I request a reconsideration of my J1 visa waiver application based on new evidence?

Yes, you will need to apply again from the beginning for a waiver recommendation. You can use this new information to support your reapplication. If your application is still pending with the Waiver Review Division and you have not received a final determination yet, you should send the information on to the Waiver Review Division.

Note: Please remember to write your waiver case number on any documentation you send and on the outside of the envelope.

66. Can I ask for reconsideration, if my application for the exceptional hardship is denied by the USCIS?

Yes, requests to reopen an exceptional hardship application are made through the USCIS. If USCIS determines the new information warrants a reopening of the case, USCIS will forward a new Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement, to the DOS for its consideration.

67. Can I ask for reconsideration, if my J-1 waiver application based on fear of persecution is denied by the USCIS?

Yes, requests to reopen persecution applications are made through the USCIS. If the USCIS determines that new information warrants reopening of the case, USCIS will forward a new Form I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement to the Department for its consideration.

68. For a J-1 waiver recommendation case, what is the significance of an advisory opinion?

An advisory opinion is a request for a statement from the Waiver Review Division as to whether an exchange visitor is subject to Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended.

69. What is the appropriate time for me to seek an advisory opinion for J visa waiver recommendation?

You should only request an advisory opinion after you have participated in a J-1 program and you have doubts whether you are or are not subject to Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act.

70. Can anyone else request an advisory opinion for J-1 waiver recommendation on my behalf?

Yes, your attorney or your responsible/alternate officer may request an advisory opinion for you.

71. What information should I provide in my request for an advisory opinion for J-1 waiver recommendation?

You should mail legible copies of all your Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility, along with the written request for an advisory opinion. USCIS does not recommend sending your request by fax because forms frequently become illegible during the fax process.

72. Can you explain about the J-1 exchange visitor's skills list?

The skills list is a list of occupations that are needed in the exchange visitor’s home country.

73. How do I know about my case number for J-1 application?

The case number is at the top portion of the letter you will receive after you have submitted your Data Sheet application and the processing fee. The letter will explain the procedures and documentation necessary for your waiver review request. If there were prior applications, the case number remains the same no matter how long the case history becomes.

74. Are the eligibility requirements the same for the F-1 and J-1 categories?

No, to be eligible for J-1 student status, you must have funding, at least at first that comes substantially from any source other than personal or family funds, in the words of the regulation. Otherwise, to be eligible for J-1 status, you must participate in an exchange program formally established by a written agreement between governments, or between the University and a foreign government or institution. Thus if your funding comes from your own resources or from your family, and you will not be participating in an exchange program, you will be ineligible for J-1 status, and will have no choice but to come as an F-1.

75. Can I change my status, from F-1 to J-1, or from J-1 to F-1, after my arrival in the U.S.?

Probably not. Some changes are prohibited by regulations, and others are possible only in very special circumstances. As an alternative to changing inside the U.S., it is sometimes possible to go home, obtain a new visa stamp in the other category, and reenter in the new status. Even if you go all the way home, though, the consulate may refuse to give you the category of visa that you want.

76. Which status is recommended, F-1 or J-1?

No recommendations are made. Most Universities will follow your preference as long as you are eligible for it.

77. Will both the F-1 and the J-1 categories give me enough time to finish my degree program?

Both will allow you to remain in the U.S. for as long as your academic program requires, provided that you maintain full-time registration in that program, and, if necessary, that you apply for extensions before the date of expected completion shown on your visa document. Note, however, that if you hold J-1 status from an agency rather than from the University itself, that agency will have full authority to impose time limits.

78. Which status, F-1 or J-1, will make it easier for me to get work permission in the U.S.?

The procedures to obtain work permission are quite different, but the employment privileges of F-1 and J-1 students are very similar:

  1. Both can work on-campus up to 20 hours a week when classes are in session at jobs that are related to study
  2. Both can work off-campus, part time, in jobs unrelated to the field of study. In practice, however, that kind of work authorization is severely restricted and very rare
  3. Both are eligible for off-campus employment in the field of study. For F-1 students this means up to 12 months of practical training, for J-1s up to 18 months of academic training
  4. Both F-1 optional practical training (OPT) and J-1 academic training (AT)are available for up to 20 hours a week when classes are in session, but may be full-time during breaks and during the annual vacation
  5. An important difference: F-1 students do not become eligible for PT until they have studied full-time for an academic year. J-1 students face no delay, but you may work only as long as you have studied
  6. Both are eligible for off-campus employment in the field of study. For F-1 students this means up to 12 months of practical training, for J-1s up to 18 months of academic training

Note: After completion of a course of study lasting an academic year or longer, F-1 students are eligible for any unused portion of the 12 months of PT, and J-1 students may use the remainder of their AT, either 18 months or the length of full time study, whichever is shorter.

79. Will there be a difference in my obligations as an F-1 that I would not have as a J-1, or as a J-1 that I would not have as an F-1?

Yes, please keep in mind the following:

  1. Tax: Your tax obligations to the U.S. government would not be affected by your choice of F-1 status over J-1 or of J-1 over F-1
  2. Health Insurance: Differences in health insurance requirements will not affect you if you have no dependents, and if you buy the University student health insurance
  3. Two year home residency: Some J-1s are subject to a requirement that they spend two years in the home country before they become eligible for immigrant status in the U.S., or for long-term employment as a nonimmigrant. This is not applicable to F-1 students.

80. What are the US J-1 visa health insurance requirements?

Insurance Requirements for Exchange Visitors Minimum coverage shall provide:

  1. Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness
  2. Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500
  3. Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his/her home country in the amount of $10,000 and

4. A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness. An insurance policy secured to fulfill the requirements of this section

a. May require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions which is reasonable as determined by current industry standards

b. May include provision for Co-insurance under the terms of which the exchange visitor may be required to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness

c. Shall not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which the exchange visitor participates. Any insurance policy secured to fulfill the above requirements must, at a minimum, be underwritten by an insurance corporation having an:

i. A.M. Best rating of or above

ii. Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of or above

iii. Standard & Poor Claims- paying Ability rating of or above

iv. Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above or such other rating as the Agency may from time to time specify

d. Backed by the full faith and credit of any of the following:

i. The government of your home country

ii. Part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees

iii. Enrolled students by a designated sponsor

iv. Offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by the Health Care Financing Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

81. If I am unsure whether my insurance for J-1 meets USIA requirements, how can I find out?

Ask your insurance provider for assurance in writing.

82. Is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) applicable for J-2 visa?

Yes, the SEVIS is applicable to J-2 visa holders. This system monitors the status of persons who enter the U.S. with an FM or J visa. In order for students/exchange visitors and their dependents to qualify for an F, M or J visa, the school or exchange program in the U.S. must issue a Certificate of Student Status (I-20) or Certificate of Exchange Visitor Status (DS-2019) on a SEVIS-generated form and must register each person on the SEVIS website. Each applicant must submit a SEVIS-generated I-20 or DS-2019 with a unique barcode number and must be listed on the SEVIS website.