Staying Legal as a J-1 Student

Acronyms Used
RO - Responsible Office
ARO - Alternate Responsible Officer
SEVIS - Student & Exchange Visitor Information System

Your program sponsor is listed in section 2 of your DS-2019

If you are required to go through "Special Registration", comply with all rules associated with Special Registration.

  • Keep your passport valid at all times.
  • Carry your I-94 at all times.
  • Carry health insurance throughout your entire J-1 program for yourself and any J-2 dependents.
  • Only engage in the program as described in section 4 of your DS-2019.
  • Enroll at the school as indicated on your DS-2019 within 30 days of the report date on the DS-2019 (section 3) and within 20 days of the start of classes every semester thereafter.
  • Maintain and complete a full course of study each academic term except during official school breaks and annual vacations.
  • Before withdrawing from a course, or under enrolling for an allowable reason such as a medical problem or final term of a degree, obtain approval from your RO/ARO.
  • Get a new DS-2019 within 10 days of any change in name, degree level, or program sponsor.
  • When changing program sponsors (even between degree levels) be certain the old program sponsor enters the program number of the new sponsor and a release date in SEVIS before your current stay expires. Upon receipt of the new sponsor's SEVIS DS-2019, sign the Exchange Visitor Certification and report to the new sponsor within 30 days of the new report date.
  • Report any change of name or address to your program sponsor, IPSO, and the registrar's office within 10 days of the change. If subject to Special Registration, also notify USCIS within 10 days of the change on Form AR-11SR (
  • Never work on or off campus without prior written approval from the RO/ARO designated by your program sponsor.
  • Do not work more than 20 hours per week while school is in session, if granted employment authorization for on-campus and /or severe economic hardship.
  • You must have a valid SEVIS DS-2019 if your are applying for a new visa.
  • Do not spend an entire semester out of the U.S. without obtaining a new DS-2019
    To present at the port-of-entry when re-entering the U.S.

    Do not let your DS-2019 expire. The expiration date is found in section 3 of your DS-2019.