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J-1: Maintaining Good Immigration Status

J-1 Student requirements to “Maintain Good Immigration Status”

A J-1 visa stamp is issued to a participant in an Exchange Visitor Program approved by the U.S. Information Agency. Participants can be in one of a variety of categories, including student, research scholar, and professor. The agency issuing the DS-2019 is called the sponsor.  In most but not all cases, Beloit College will be your sponsor. 

To maintain your legal status in the United States as a J-1 exchange visitor, you must remember these important requirements:
1. Report to the OIE Within 30 days of the DS-2019 Start Date
U.S. Federal Immigration regulations require that you report to the Office of International Education at Beloit College within 30 days of the start date (Item #3) on your DS-2019 whether it is your first time in the U.S. or if you are transferring from another U.S. institution.

2. Maintain a “full-time” academic schedule
J-1 students must be full-time students each semester until they receive their degrees. At Beloit College this means you must register and complete at least 3 full course units each semester.  Please talk to the OIE International Student Advisor before you drop below full time enrollment or take a leave of absence.

3. Update your Local Address
Federal immigration regulations require you to update your local residential address, including a from one residence hall to another, within 10 days of any address change within the U.S. including changes from one residence hall to another.  You do this by sending an email to the OIE International Student Advisor oie@beloit.edu.  Note:  Post Office Box Numbers (Mail Box) cannot be substituted.  If you live on campus, your address for this purpose includes the name of your residence hall and your room number.

4. Maintain the Required Health Insurance
U.S. immigration regulations require that all J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents maintain a specified level of health and accident insurance. The minimum levels are:

  • Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains expenses in the amount of $7500
  • Medical evacuation expenses in the amount of $10,000. 

All of the above are covered by the Beloit College student health insurance plan.

5. Keep your Immigration Documents Valid and Current

Keep your passport valid
You should keep your passport valid for at least six months in to the future while you are studying in the U.S. Consult your country's consulate or embassy in the U.S. to renew your passport. You can find the contact information for your consulate at: http://travel.state.gov.
J-1 Extension
The program end date (Item #3 on your DS-2019) marks the end of your J-1 student status.  If you are unable to complete your course of study by that time, you must apply for an extension two weeks before the DS-2019 end date. You must file your program extension with OIE or other sponsor 2 weeks before it expires.  If you have any questions, contact the International Student Advisor at OIE .
Discuss Transfer Plans with an OIE advisor
If you plan to transfer to or from another school or sponsor, OIE and other sponsor will need to complete the immigration transfer procedure. Permission to transfer is granted only if your academic plans at the new institution will continue the pursuit of the exchange visitor's original purpose for entering the U.S. on a J-1 visa.
Photocopy Your Immigration Documents
You should make photocopies of your immigration documents and keep the copies and originals in a safe place. Photocopy:

  • the passport photo page
  • the visa page of your passport
  • both sides of your I-94 Form (even if the back side has no writing)
  • your DS-2019

6. Never Work Off-campus Without Prior Authorization
Employment opportunities for international students in the U.S. are restricted by law. In general there are two types of employment: on-campus and off-campus employment.

  • On-campus Employment: Enrolled J-1 students holding a DS-2019 from Beloit College are permitted to work on campus for 20 hours per week during academic year and 40 hours per week during summer and winter breaks if authorized by the sponsor.
  • Off-campus Employment: Off-campus employment is any type of work or services performed in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food or any other benefit that is not on the Beloit College campus. An authorization letter is required before any off-campus work can take place.  The authorization letter must be written by your sponsor (Beloit College or other).
  • Academic Training
    J-1 students in degree programs are permitted a maximum of 18 months of academic training related to their field of study. The amount of academic training used by the student cannot exceed the number of months of the academic program. 

 7. Notify the OIE when you leave the U.S. or change visa status
When you finish your program and leave the U.S. permanently or change to another visa status (for instance if an employer plans to do an H1B visa application for you after you graduate), notify OIE of your plans.

8. Traveling outside of the United States
Re-entering the U.S. after a Temporary Absence
To re-enter the U.S., you need to have the following documents:

  • Valid passport (except Canadians unless entering from outside the Western Hemisphere)
  • Valid J-1 or J-2 visa stamp (except Canadians)
  • Current DS-2019 with a valid signature (see DS-2019 Endorsement)
  • Proof of financial support (bank statements and/or scholarship, financial aid letter)
  • Proof of enrollment (certificate of enrollment or transcript).

Traveling to Canada
Before traveling to Canada, come to OIE to check visa requirements and to check the Canadian consular website to see if you require a visa (http://cicnet.ci.gc.ca). You can re-enter the U.S. from Canada with an expired U.S. visa stamp if all of the following apply to you:

  • You have a valid passport with an expired non-immigrant visa stamp, a valid DS-2019, and you keep your I-94 card when leaving the U.S. and entering Canada
  • Your visit to Canada will be less than 30 days
  • You do not apply for a U.S. visa stamp while in Canada
  • You are not a national of one of the following countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Cuba, or North Korea.

Renewing Your Visa Stamp
If you need to renew your visa in order to re-enter the U.S., you must apply in person to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Applicants are normally required to submit the following documentation:

  • Valid passport
  • Current passport-size photographs
  • Valid Form DS-2019
  • Proof of financial support (bank statements and/or scholarship, financial aid letter)
  • Proof of enrollment (certificate of enrollment or transcript).

DS-2019 Travel Endorsement
You need to have a valid signature from OIE staff (or from your sponsoring agency if your DS-2019 was not issued by Beloit College) on your DS-2019 for reentry to the U.S.  The signature is valid for 12 months.
The Visa Stamp
The J-1 visa in your passport was obtained at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad and is used to enter the U.S. You can think of it as your ticket to enter the U.S.  It is only when you are leaving the U.S. and need to return that you must be sure to obtain a valid U.S. visa stamp to re-enter the U.S. This means that you do not need to panic about an expired visa, as long as you are not planning to leave the country.  [Note: Canadian citizens are not required to have a passport (if entering the U.S. from within the Western hemisphere) or visa stamp, but they must show their DS2019 and proof of Canadian citizenship at the U.S. port of entry.]
Immigration Status
Immigration status is granted at the U.S. port of entry. You have J-1 student status. In most situations your visa type and immigration status are the same, unless you have changed your immigration status after entering the U.S. People in J-1 status who are subject to the "two-year home country residency requirement" may not change to any other non-immigrant status within the U.S. Exchange visitors who enter the U.S. in one exchange visitor category, such as "student," are rarely permitted to change to another category, such as "researcher."