Important Things for J-1 Students to Know

Two Year Home Residency Requirement

Some J-1 students are subject to this requirement and some are not. Students receiving direct funding from the U.S. Government or their home government will be subject. There is also a Skills List, established between the U.S. government and the individual student's home government. Students studying a skill on the list for their country will be subject to the requirement. Those individuals who are subject must return home for two years before they can apply for permanent residence, an H visa, or an L visa. If subject to the two years, exchange visitors cannot apply for any type of change of status from within the U.S. Waivers of this requirement are few, difficult, and time-consuming. If the J-1 is subject to the two years, all J-2 dependents are subject as well. For further information about the waiver process, refer to the U.S. Department of State's web site:


Degree-Seeking Students

J-1 students must pursue a full course of study each fall and spring semester. There are a FEW exceptions, such as for a medical problem or a student's final term. In these circumstances, the student must first get approval from the RO/ARO* designated by the programs sponsor.

Non-Degree-Seeking Students

The student is required to be engaged full time in a prescribed course of study not to exceed 24 months.


Generally speaking, deviation from one's program objective (Item #4 on the DS-2019) is not allowed. The major can generally only be changed, if it is CLOSELY related to the original major. For example, changing from Pre-Business to Business is acceptable. A student can change program levels as long as the student continues to study in the same field.


J-2 dependents can take classes that are vocational or recreational. They cannot study full time unless the J-2 is a child in elementary or secondary school. J-2's can request employment authorization through USCIS (formerly INS). Any change in address or name of a J-2 dependent requires notification to the ARO/Ro designated by the program sponsor.


Students can request an extension from the RO/ARO if they need extra time to complete their original program objective. Extensions cannot be granted if a recommendation for a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement has been received from the U.S. Department of State.

Degree-seeking students must pursue a full course of study and maintain satisfactory advancement towards the completion of their academic program to request an extension Non-degree-seeking students must be participating full time in a prescribed course of study and be maintaining satisfactory advancement towards the completion of their academic program to request an extension.


All work authorization must be received in writing from RO/ARO designated by the Program sponsor (#2 on the DS-20109) prior to employment. Students may apply to Work part-time (20 hours or less a week) if one of the following three types of Employment applies:

  1. It is pursuant to the terms of a scholarship, fellowship or assistantship
  2. It occurs on-campus
  3. It occurs off-campus because of a serious, urgent and unforeseen economic circumstance.

The student must be in good academic standing and must continue to engage in a full course of study. Employment can be more than 20 hours per week when school is not in session. The approval may be valid up to 12 months, but it is automatically withdrawn if the student's program is terminated.


Students are eligible to apply for employment authorization (academic training) that is directly related to their major during or after the completion of their studies through the RO/ARO designated by the program sponsor. Most degree-seeking students are eligible for 18 months of academic training, whether before or after completion of studies. The total training period may not exceed the amount of time spent in the full course of study.


All J-1 students should be admitted to the U.S. for "duration of status" - meaning they do not have a specific departure date on their I-94, but rather "D/S". This means they may stay in the U.S. as long as they are maintaining their J-1 student status. In addition, J-1 students have a 30-day period after the completion of their program to prepare to depart the U.S. Students cannot work during this 30-day period.


Any time the exchange visitor completes the program more than 30 days prior to the completion date on the DS-2019, the program sponsor must be notified.