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Choosing Between F-1 or J-1 Visa

American University is authorized to issue an I-20 "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status" and DS-2019 "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status" for students admitted to a full-time academic program. Most American University international students hold F-1 visa status, however, some students may be eligible for or required to have J-1 visa status.

F-1 Student Visa Status 8 CFR 214.2(f)

The F-1 is the most common visa for students studying in the United States. Full-time degree seeking students at AU are eligible for the F-1 visa.

J-1 Exchange Visitors Status 22 CFR Part 62

To be eligible for J-1 status, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. The student or his or her program are financed directly or indirectly by:
    (i) The United States Government;
    (ii) The government of the student's home country; or
    (iii) An international organization of which the United States is a member by treaty or statute;
  2. The program is carried out pursuant to an agreement between the United States Government and a foreign government;
  3. The program is carried out pursuant to written agreement between:
    (i) American and foreign academic institutions, such as Abroad at AU or Washington Semester Program;
    (ii) An American academic institution and a foreign government; or
    (iii) A state or local government in the United States and a foreign government; or
  4. The student is supported substantially by funding from any source other than personal or family funds

F-1 VISA

J-1 VISA

Funding

Funded either by personal or outside funds or a combination

Cannot be self-funded unless in an exchange program through institutional agreements such as Abroad at AU or Washington Semester Program. Substantial portion of financial support must be from an external funding source,such as institutional or home government

On-Campus Employment

Up to 20 hours per week while school is in session. May work full-time during vacation periods.

Up to 20 hours per week while school is in session. May work full-time during vacation periods.

Off-Campus Employment

Yes, after completing 1 academic year in full-time status:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • Unforseen Economic Hardship

Yes, Academic Training.

Dependent Employment & Study

Dependents (F-2's) are not eligible for employment. Eligible to study part-time in the U.S. or full-time if student is from Kindergarten to 12th grade.

Dependents (J-2s) are eligible to apply for permission to work in the U.S. through duration of primary J-1 holder's program. This permission is obtained through USCIS. Elligible to study part-time or full-time in the U.S.

Completion of Studies

Leave U.S. within 60 days.

Leave U.S. within 30 days.

Requirement to Return Home at Completion of Studies

No requirement to return home upon program completion. May apply for another program or change visa status.

J-1 and J-2 status will be subject to the two-year home residence requirement, also know as 212(e), if any of the following apply:

  • Participation in the exchange program is financed, directly or indirectly, by the U.S. government or a foreign government.
  • The skills the Exchange Visitor (EV) is coming to develop or exercise are in a field, which the EV's home government requested be included on the State Department's skills list (skills in short supply in home country).
  • The EV comes to the U.S. to receive graduate medical education or training.


Questions About Your Status

Contact an ISSS advisor at American University if you have any questions about your current or future immigration status.