Maintaining Immigration Status

To maintain a valid J-1 status, all international students and their dependents must follow:

  • Report to the Shuford Center for International Education any change in your telephone numbers, email addresses, actual and current U.S. address and site of activity within 10 days of any changes.
  • Maintain a full course of study and satisfactory academic progress if participating in academic year-long exchange.
  • Avoid doing unauthorized employment.
  • Maintain insurance coverage that meets the requirements explained on page two of the DS-2019 throughout your stay in the U.S.

Your Timeline

It is important to remember that all exchange visitors, whether students or scholars in the J program, have a specific program to fulfill. Your immigration record and your program have both a begin date and an end date when you are scheduled to have completed your original program and objective.

  • SEVIS Record

    Any aspects of the SEVIS record should be updated as information changes. This may involve requesting an extension of the program. The request for an extension must be made in a timely manner so it can be granted before the end date of the program. Extensions cannot be granted during the grace period after the end of the program.

  • Leaving Early

    Sometimes circumstances in academic or personal life may prevail over program pursuits and the need arises to end a program earlier than planned. In order to appropriately end a SEVIS record, the Shuford Center will need to speak with you about your plans. We can help you consider the requirements of J-1 visa status and avoid negative consequences to an immigration record.

    If you simply stop attending school, your record will be terminated as required by law. Termination can seriously affect chances for successful future applications for U.S. immigration status.

    Please note that gaps in the J program are not permitted. You must be continuously enrolled in a full course of study, or fully engaged in their program.

  • Two-Year Residence Requirement

    Many exchange visitors in J status, including J-2 dependents, are subject to what is commonly referred to as the two-year rule or two-year residence requirement. The regulatory citation used on visas and I-94 cards is 212(e).

    Each time an exchange visitor in J status receives a visa from a U.S. consulate abroad, the consulate should indicate on the DS-2019 form and/or the visa if the person is subject to the two-year rule. 

    The indication on the DS-2019 form occurs in the bottom left box of the DS-2019 form for endorsement of the consular officer. Extensions and amended forms issued by LR will generally not include this indication until you apply for a visa abroad. The notation on the visa will generally say something like "two-year rule applies" or "212(e) does not apply". Occasionally, the consulate will not mark either document, but the rule will still be in effect if it applies.

    The two-year rule applies to you if you have received U.S. or foreign government funding specifically intended for international educational exchange or if your specialty appears on a skills list for your last country of permanent residence. 

    If your field appears on the list for your country of last permanent residence, you should return to that country for a period of two years before applying for any type of immigrant visa, including H, L, or permanent residency. 

    Time spent outside the U.S., but not in the last country of permanent residence, does not count toward fulfillment of the two-year rule.

    The two-year rule affects the following statuses:

    • H and L 
    • Any form of permanent residency (including spouse of U.S. citizen or permanent resident and winners of the diversity visa lottery)
    • Change to any other status while remaining in the U.S.

    The two-year rule does not affect eligibility for non-immigrant statuses, such as B-tourist, A-diplomat, F-student or J-exchange visitor. 

    The form I-539 does not allow those who are subject to the two-year rule to submit the form for a change of status while remaining in the U.S. 

    If you wish to change your status, you must either receive a waiver of the two-year rule or apply for a new status at a U.S. consulate abroad. For more information on waiver issues, visit the U.S. Department of State website.

    Please note that once the Department of State's recommendation for approval of a waiver is received by a sponsor, no further extensions of one's J status are permitted.

  • Insurance

    To maintain valid J-1 status, you and any dependents must maintain insurance coverage that meets the requirements outlined on page two of the DS-2019 form.

    The insurance offered by LR meets these requirements and will automatically be purchased on your behalf and billed to you unless (for scholars only) proof of alternative insurance that meets all requirements is provided. Additional information about the specifics of coverage may be requested at any time and will be provided via email upon request.

  • Course Load

    To maintain valid J-1 status, students must maintain a full course of study. Full-time enrollment for undergraduates at LR is defined for immigration purposes as 12 hours minimum during fall or spring semester, with none of those course credits earned through enrollment in a fully online course, and for graduates as nine hours minimum. 

    If you are enrolled for a full academic year, you must also maintain satisfactory progress.

    Registered students may add or drop a course during the drop/add period in the first week of classes, as long as a full course load is maintained. After the drop/add period, you must obtain prior authorization from the OIE for a reduced course load. 

    Immigration regulations allow an immigration officer (the international education director) to authorize reduced enrollment for J students for the following specific reasons only:

    1. A bona fide academic reason, as documented in writing by the academic advisor
    2. Medical condition defined by a licensed physician or psychologist/psychiatrist

    Students sponsored by International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP) must consult ISEP’s immigration officers regarding procedures and program rules for dropping below a full course of study.

  • Unauthorized Employment

    To maintain valid J-1 status, you must avoid unauthorized employment. It is important to understand that employment is any type of work performed or service provided in exchange for any benefit, including but not limited to:

    • Money
    • Tuition
    • Fees
    • Books
    • Supplies 
    • Room and board. 

    Employment might include informal tutoring, babysitting, or teaching someone to drive or play a musical instrument if an exchange of benefits is involved.

    Any employment (including paid and unpaid internship type opportunities, for academic credit, or not for academic credit) done without specific written authorization, and authorization in SEVIS, from the program sponsor (LR or ISEP) indicated in box two of the DS-2019 form is illegal.

    We do not allow on-campus work for J-1 students and only allow off-campus work in rare cases where academic training (paid or unpaid training specifically in your field of study) is deemed an essential and integral part of your academic program at LR.