CampusLife

International Student & Scholar Services

J-1 Immigration Responsibilities

Below is a summary of the responsibilities and benefits placed on students in J-1 status by the United States Department of State. For more information, please consult with the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) and/or the Responsible Officer of the J-1 program that issued your DS-2019.

1. Full-time registration

2. Health Insurance

3. Employment Eligibility and Authorization

4. Authorized to stay in the United States

5. Travel outside the United States

6. Two year home country physical presence requirement

For additional information, please refer to the Department of State Information for Exchange Visitors.


1. Full-time Registration

You must register for and complete a full course of study each semester:

Undergraduates: 12 credit hours
Graduates: 9 credit hours
Law School (LLM): 8 credit hours

Coursework is optional during the summer vacation (May-August)

In some cases exceptions may be granted for valid academic and medical reasons. Consult with your J-1 Responsible Officer before registering or dropping a course that places you in part-time status.

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2. Health Insurance

You are required to maintain the following minimum level of health insurance for you and your family's entire stay in J-1 or J-2 status:

- Medical benefits of $50,000 per accident or illness
- Repatriation of remains in amount of $7500
- Expenses associated with medical evacuation in amount of $10,000
- Deductible does not exceed $500 per accident or illness

Your J-1 program may be cancelled if you fail to meet this requirement. In addition, your Responsible Officer may request proof of this coverage each time you request a new DS-2019 or apply for employment.

Please see the State Department's Exchange Visitor Program website for further information about the health insurance requirements.

More information about factors to consider in choosing your insurance, eligibility for AU health insurance, and other health insurance options is available on our Obtaining Health Insurance page.

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3. Employment Eligibility and Authorization

  • You must obtain written authorization from your Responsible Officer before beginning any kind of employment whether on-campus or off-campus.
  • Employment authorization is limited to 20 hours during the fall and spring semesters; full-time during semester breaks, summer vacation, or after completion of your academic program.
  • Employment is any type of work performed or services in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, transportation, room, board, or any other benefit.

You may be eligible for the following types of employment authorization:

  1. Employment required by a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship
  2. On-campus jobs unrelated to study
  3. Off-campus jobs to meet urgent, unforeseen need
  4. Academic training (work directly related to your field of study)

Social Security Number: To put you on the payroll, your employer will need your Social Security number, which you can obtain by applying for a Social Security card.

Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification: When you begin work, you and your employer must complete an I-9 form, which requires you to document your identity and work authorization according to direction on the back of the Form. Of the various items acceptable as documentation, you may find that the most convenient combination is your passport, I-94 Departure Record, your DS-2019, and J-1 Responsible Officer's written work authorization. Your employer, who keeps the I-9, will make copies of the documents you submit, and return the originals to you. The I-9 must be updated any time that you receive a renewal of your permissions for Academic Training.

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4. Authorized to stay in the United States

Your permission to stay in the United States is determined by your I-94 and DS-2019. As long as your I-94 is noted J-1 and D/S, you have 30 days to leave the United States after the completion date of your program (this date cannot exceed the expiration date on your DS-2019).

If additional time is needed to complete your program, you must obtain a new DS 2019 and complete a program extension before the expiration date of your current DS-2019.

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5. Travel outside the United States

Contact your Responsible Officer regarding procedures for validating your DS-2019 before you depart the United States temporarily.

To re-enter the United States you will need a valid J-1 visa, passport and DS-2019. Contact ISSS to see if you are eligible for automatic revalidation of visa for brief visits to Canada, Mexico, and most Caribbean islands.

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6. Two year home country physical presence requirement

As a J-1 exchange visitor, you may be subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement, or 212(e). In this case you must return home for a minimum of two years after completing your J-1 program before you can change or adjust your status to an H, L, or other immigrant status.

The home country requirement applies to you if:

  1. You received funding from the United States Government, your own government, or an international organization in connection with your participation in the Exchange Visitor Program.
  2. The education, training, or skill you are pursuing in this country appears on the Exchange Visitor Skills List for your country.
  3. You acquired J-1 status on or after January 10, 1977, for the purpose of receiving graduate medical education or training.

Applying for a WAIVER:

You may petition to the US State Department for a waiver of this requirement under any of these specific circumstances:

  1. "No Objection" from the home government
  2. Request by an interested (U.S.) Government agency
  3. Risk of persecution in home country
  4. Exceptional hardship to a United States citizen (or permanent resident) spouse or child of an exchange visitor
  5. Request by a designated State Department of Health, or its equivalent

Please see the State Department website for information about these circumstances and the application process. Additional questions can be directed to your J-1 program Responsible Officer.

To check on a pending waiver application:
State Department J-Visa Waiver Status on-line
Waiver Review Public Inquiry Number: (202) 663-1225
Waiver Review FAX number: (202) 663-8666

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