Information for J-1 Students
Maintaining Your Status – The Basics
Federal Immigration regulations in the United States are taken very seriously, and it is critical that international students in J-1 visa classification maintain their legal status in the United States. Students must be aware of, and comply fully with, the following compliance requirements set forth by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS):
Current Address and Phone Number
As an international student in J-1 status you are required to have a current US local address (SEVIS US address) as well as a permanent foreign address (SEVIS Foreign address) on file with Ohio University at all times. Failure to update either of these addresses within 10 days of moving is a violation of your immigration status. Similarly you are required to designate a "preferred" phone number, which will also be reported to SEVIS.
For instructions on how to update your address or phone number in your MyOhio Student Center, please use the following links:
- How to update your address in your MyOhio Student Account
- How to update your phone number in your MyOhio Student Account
The Office of International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS) will update your address electronically in SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System), the US federal web-based database used by immigration officials to record and track international student data.
J-1 students must enroll in a full course of study during normal enrollment periods which are fall and spring semesters at Ohio University. However, there is one exception; any J-1 student who begins their program of study or ends their program of study in the summer semester must be enrolled full-time for the summer.
A full course of study for an undergraduate or OPIE student is 12 credits
A full course of study for a graduate student is 9 credits
A full course of study for non-degree students may vary. Contact ISFS with any questions.
When choosing courses to enroll in it is important to consider if the course will be taught online or in person. No online credits can count towards your full-time enrollment requirement. This does not mean you are barred from taking online courses. It just means that you must take enough in-person courses to fulfill the full-time requirements before you add any online courses to your schedule.
Federal Regulations limit the circumstances in which students may register less than full-time.
Reduced enrollment may be authorized under the following conditions:
- Medical Illness
- Academic Difficulties
- Final term
Prior permission from ISFS is required. Please call our office to schedule an appointment with an advisor for more information.
Your DS-2019 form was issued for a standard timeframe. You will find the program start and end dates in section 3 of the form. You may find that you are unable to finish your program by the end date. In that case, you will need to request an extension of your J-1 program.
Eligibility Requirements for Program Extension: You may apply for an extension of your study program if:
- Your current DS-2019 has not already expired
- You have continuously maintained lawful J-1 status
- The delay in completing program requirements has been caused by compelling academic or medical reasons
You can request a program extension by submitting a completed Program Extension request form. New financial documentation will be required. Students being sponsored by family or friends will need to submit a Financial Sponsor Form from each sponsor.
Transferring Your SEVIS Record
A transfer is a change in U.S. education institution, and this change can occur at various times throughout your J-1 program - while in the middle of your degree program, after completing your degree program or after engaging in Academic Training. When you request a transfer of your SEVIS record, ISFS will work with the international student office at the new school to transfer your record to them. We must work with that office closely in order to transfer a J-1 student record.
There are some restrictions for a J-1 student that wants to transfer to a new school, including the following:
- If transferring in the middle of your program, you must have the same major at your new institution
- You must study at the same level or higher as you current degree program at OHIO
- Students in the non-degree category can only transfer to a non-degree program at their new institution within the same major.
A transfer can be requested any time prior to the end date on your current DS-2019. In order to request a transfer, you must submit to ISFS a completed J-1 Transfer Release Form along with a copy of the admission letter from the new school. Once ISFS has received all the necessary documents, please allow 2 weeks for processing of your request. You can submit the required documents to the front desk of WIEC, via email to email@example.com, or by faxing them to 740-593-4328.
Once your request has been processed, ISFS will send an email to your OHIO email account confirming that your SEVIS record has been transferred or to confirm that it is scheduled to be transferred (if your requested release date is in the future). If you decide that you do not want to transfer to the school noted on the request form, ISFS can cancel the transfer if you notify us about your decision before the SEVIS release date you selected. If you change your mind after the SEVIS release date, you will need to work with the new educational institution to correct your SEVIS record.
Any employment authorized by Ohio University must end the day before your SEVIS record is released.
Starting a New OHIO Program
You must obtain a new Form DS-2019 before changing your academic program from one degree level to another (from Bachelor's to Master's level, from Master's to Doctoral, etc.). Non-degree or exchange students are not eligible for a change of level. If you are a current non-degree or exchange student that has been admitted to OHIO for an academic program in a future term, you must receive a new DS-2019 from the admitting office and re-enter the U.S. on that new DS-2019.
To do this you must provide proof of admission to the new program at the new education level as well as current financial documents to establish a funding source for your new academic program. As a J-1 student, the financial documents must show support for the entire duration of the new program. Submit these documents to your ISFS international student advisor PRIOR to beginning your new academic program and prior to the end date of your current Form DS-2019.
J-1 students are required to have authorization to work from the J-1 program sponsor (i.e., OHIO, IIE for Fulbright and BSMP students) for all types of employment, paid or unpaid, on- or off-campus. If employed without proper authorization, the student will have violated his/her J-1 status which may result in losing benefits or falling out of status .
Types of Employment
On-campus employment is defined as work done on the premises of the school. A J-1 student may be authorized to work up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and up to 28 hours per week during summer and official University holiday breaks for on-campus employment.
You may request on-campus work authorization via iCats. We will need a copy of your job offer letter on Ohio University letterhead from the department on campus that wants to hire you. It must include your employment start date, employment end date, the number of hours per week, and your job title. You must receive new authorization for each period of employment (i.e. each academic year).
Once you complete your academic program, you are no longer eligible for on-campus employment, unless you have obtained employment authorization based on academic training.
Academic training is work, training, or experience related to a student's field of study. Although a J-1 student may work part-time or full-time, all academic training is counted full-time, even if the employment is on a part-time basis. In order to be eligible:
You must have a job offer in the field of your study and submit a completed Academic Training application to ISFS.
You must be completing a Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctoral degree program or have completed a semester or year at OHIO as an exchange student.
You must also be in good academic standing.
Time allotted for academic training may not exceed a period of time equal to your full course of study or 18 months, whichever is shorter. If you are working on a PhD program, you are allowed 36 months total of academic training. Completing multiple degrees does not increase the amount of time available to you for academic training. The training can take place during the academic program or after.
How To Apply
Submit the following documents:
Job offer letter which includes:
- Name and address of the institution or company where the academic training will take place
- Name and contact information of your supervisor
- Position offered including a description of the experience
- Specific employment start and end dates
- Number of hours of academic training each week
- Original signature
The offer must be printed on letterhead. Scanned copies of the letter are acceptable. However, we cannot accept offers made via email that do not contain a scanned letter.
J-2 dependents are eligible to apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permission to work. The J-2 dependent may begin employment only AFTER receiving the approved EAD from USCIS.
The regulation states that employment may not be granted when the earnings are to be used to support the J-1 visa holder. Rather, the earnings must be used for the "Family's customary recreational and cultural activities and those related travel". Source: 8CFR 21A.2(j)(1)(v)(A)
Complete instructions may be found here.
Travel Inside of the US
If boarding a flight in the US, you will need to present either a US driver’s license or a foreign passport. If traveling via bus or train, you will need to research any documentation requirements with the specific company. Students traveling within the US are generally advised to carry copies of their passports and DS-2019 forms, or to keep a copy on their phones. These can be used for identification purposes, if needed. Puerto Rico is part of the United States, and students flying there directly do not need to have a valid US visa stamp to enter.
Travel Outside of the US
If you are traveling outside the U.S. you will need the following documents to re-enter the US:
- Valid passport
- Valid J-1 visa stamp (Canadian citizens are exempt from this requirement)
- DS-2019 form with a travel endorsement that is less than a year old
- Students pursuing academic training should carry a letter from their employer confirming their continued employment
If you will need a new travel signature on your DS-2019 form, you should complete a Travel Signature Request eform in iCats at least 2 weeks prior to your anticipated travel date.
Renewing the J-1 Visa Stamp
The process to renew a visa stamp is nearly the same as the process to get the initial J-1 visa stamp. Visas can only be obtained at US embassies and consulates. In addition to the documents you took for the original interview, we recommend that you obtain an Enrollment Verification form from the Registrar’s office. You will be expected to present updated financial documentation. You can read tips about the visa interview process here.
Travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean
Many students in valid status may travel to Canada, Mexico and many of the Caribbean islands without a valid US visa if they qualify for a benefit called Automatic Visa Revalidation. Students must have a valid passport with an expired visa, a copy of their I-94 record, and a valid signed DS-2019. To learn if you will be eligible for this benefit, read this important information from the US State Department. If you have further questions, contact your ISFS advisor.
Note that citizens of the following countries are not eligible to use Automatic Visa Revalidation: Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Sudan. In addition, travel to Cuba invalidates this option.
If your travels will take you to or through a third country, be sure to find out if you will need a visitor or transit visa for that country. Some countries require transit visas even for airport transfers. ISFS is not able to provide information about foreign visas. However, most details can be found by searching for that country's embassy online.
All J-1 students enrolled in classes are required to purchase the insurance policy offered by Ohio University, unless they are part of certain exchange programs. Details about insurance costs and coverage periods can be found on the Student Insurance website.
J-1 students enrolled for one (1) or more Athens campus credit hours are automatically enrolled and billed for the University’s Student Health Insurance plan. Ohio University assesses the health insurance premium each semester.
If Spring 2020 is your first semester in attendance, the following applies:
Dependents of international students in J status residing with the student must also be enrolled in the health insurance offered by Ohio University. Students must complete enrollment applications for their dependents. Students are responsible for assuring that their dependents are enrolled each semester. These forms can be found online through the United Healthcare Student Resources website or by contacting the Ohio University Student Insurance Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Premium rates for spouse and dependent coverage will be charged to the student's account through the Office of the Bursar.
Regional Campus Students
Students can call UHCSR Customer Service at 1-800-767-0700 or email email@example.com with questions regarding benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I obtain my insurance ID card?
United Healthcare Student Resources is a paperless company and is no longer mailing ID cards to students. Students MUST create an account online with United Healthcare to manage their benefits and obtain their ID card. Students must use their Ohio.edu email address when creating their online account with United Healthcare Student Resources.
Students may also obtain a copy of their insurance ID card from the Student Health Insurance Administrator located in Campus Care on the second floor in the Business Office.
How do I re-enroll in the University Health Insurance plan if I have already submitted a waiver?
Students can choose to re-enroll in the University Health Insurance plan during open enrollment periods at the beginning of each semester. The re-enrollment application must be submitted to the Student Health Insurance Administrator. Please view this document: Student Health Insurance Re-enrollment, for complete details and instructions.
Where do I go if I need verification of enrollment for my private insurance?
Verification of enrollment can be obtained from the Office of the Registrar.
Who do I contact if I want to obtain details about my policy?
For details regarding the student health insurance policy, students and parents may contact United Healthcare Student Resources Customer Service at 1-800-767-0700, or by contacting the Student Health Insurance Administrator at 740-593-1931, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.