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Basics of J-1 Status

According to US Law Under 22 CFR 62.1

The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the United States and return home to share their experiences, and to encourage Americans to participate in educational and cultural programs in other countries. Exchange visitors enter the United States on a J visa.

Who Runs the Exchange Visitor Program?

The EV program is run by the US Department of State, which requires that exchange visitors be notified of contact information for the program.

Exchange Visitor Program
Bureau of Educational And Cultural Affairs
United States Department of State
SA-44, Room 734
301 4th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20547

Tel: (202) 401-9810
Fax: (202) 401-9801

United States Department of State
Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation
(Compliance Unit)
ECA/EC - SA-44, Room 734

301 4th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20547
E-mail:      Fax: (202) 203-5087

The Department recognizes that the Exchange Visitor Programs can be most successful if it is aware of the needs, interests and concerns of all parties involved in the Exchange Visitor Program. In order to improve communications among the Department, program sponsors, and program participants (including host families), the Department established an email address by which sponsors, participants, and interested third parties may contact the Compliance Unit. Email: JVISAS@STATE.GOV

How Do I qualify for J Exchange Visitor Status?

  • Participant receives direct or indirect government financing of the program (US government, home government, or international organization of which US is a member);


  • Program is pursuant to an agreement between the US and a foreign government;


  • Program is pursuant to a written agreement:
    (i) between an American and foreign educational institution
    (ii) between an American educational institution and a foreign government
    (ii) between a US state or local government and a foreign government;


  • Participant receives substantial funding from a source other than personal or family holdings.

Responsibilities of J-1 Exchange Student Status

  • Mandatory health insurance. Exchange Visitors are required as a condition of their J-1 status in the U.S. to carry health insurance for themselves and their accompanying family members.
  • Enrollment and complete full-time coursework (12 credits per semester for undergraduate ) during fall and spring semesters.
  • Do not work off-campus.
  • Keep your passport valid at all times (if expired, renew at your country’s Consulate or Embassy in the U.S.)
  • Request a travel signature on your DS-2019 at least one week before leaving the U.S. in order to return and continue your exchange program.
  • Obey all state and federal laws.
  • Report any change of address to the USCIS and the International Programs Office within 10 days of the change.

Benefits of J-1 Exchange Student Status

  • Enrolled students are eligible for immediate part-time on-campus employment, 20 hours or less per week while school is in session and full-time during vacation periods. Full-time employment is any amount of time more than 20 hours per week.
  • Can stay in the U.S. with an expired visa stamp as long as student status is maintained. There is no restriction on travel within the U.S.
  • Can travel to Canada or Mexico for 30 days or less and re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa stamp as long as you have a valid passport, I-94 card and DS-2019 with a travel signature (within the last year) from Meri Linn or Valerie.
  • Have 30 days to depart the U.S. after the expiration date on your DS-2019 form.