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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 and scholars in J-1 visa classification maintain their legal status in the United States. Students and scholars 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):

  • Basic immigration: You must maintain a valid passport for at least 6 months into the future at all times. You must attend the college/university DHS has authorized you to attend as notated on your form DS-2019.
  • Course Registration: J-1 students must complete a full course of study during normal enrollment periods (Fall & Spring Semesters).
    • If you will not be enrolled full-time (9 credits or more for graduate students; 12 credits or more for undergraduates), you must receive permission from the Designated School Official (International Student Advisor) in the International Student and Faculty Services office (ISFS) in advance. You and your academic advisor must complete the ISFS Reduced Course Load form, and submit it to ISFS prior to registering for less than a full course load or prior to dropping below full-time enrollment.
    • When choosing courses to enroll in it is important to consider if the course will be taught online or in person. No more than one online course that is 3 credits or less may count towards full-time enrollment. For example, if an F-1 undergraduate student enrolls in a 3 credit on-line course, the student must enroll in 9 more credit hours that are all in person. If a student wants to enroll in more than one online course, only one of the courses will count towards the student’s full-time enrollment for that semester.
  • Program Extension: You must apply for an extension of your program of study prior to the expiration date on your Form DS-2019 if you cannot complete your program by that date.
    • Extension Requests should be submitted 30-60 days prior to the expiration date of your form DS-2019 so that the extension process can be completed prior to the expiration date on the document.
    • Click here for the Program Extension form.
    • If you will be sponsored by family or friends, you will need to submit a Financial Sponsor Form for each one.
  • Change of Academic Level: 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.).
    • To do complete the change of level process, 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. 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 DS-2019 .
  • Employment : You are NOT permitted to accept or perform any type of employment in the United States without authorization from ISFS. This includes paid or unpaid internships and on- and off-campus opportunities. Please visit the J-1 Employment section for more details.
  • Address Updates: You must report any change of address or residence and/or any change of name directly to the Office of the Registrar through your MyOhio portal within 10 days of the change. ISFS will then electronically transmit your address update to SEVIS. See Address Update for further information.
  • Travel Outside of the U.S.: If you plan to travel outside of the U.S. and reenter to continue with your J-1 program, you must have a valid travel signature that is no older than 6 months.
    • Students and scholars must complete an ISFS Travel Signature Request Form at least 2 weeks prior to their anticipated travel date.
    • If you will need to renew your visa to reenter the U.S., please note that on the Travel Signature Request form. If an international student advisor receives that request, we will provide you with a visa support letter that you can use during the visa renewal process.
  • Transfer to another education institution: If you are planning to transfer to another institution and maintain your current J student status, please read through the J-1 Student Transfer Information and contact an international student advisor in ISFS.
  • Dependents in J-2 Status: You must notify ISFS of any accompanying dependent(s) in J-2 status and provide biographical information (full name, address, country of birth, etc.) and immigration information (passport information, visa information, etc.) regarding those dependents using the ISFS "Check-in Form" provided to you during international student orientation.
    • If you wish to invite a dependent(s) to Ohio University you must speak with an international student advisor in the ISFS office and complete the necessary request form as well as provide current financial documents to establish your financial eligibility to support your dependent(s) during their stay in the United States.
    • Information about obtaining J-2 work authorization can be found further below.

IMPORTANT NOTE : This information is subject to change without notice and cannot be considered exhaustive. International students should contact the Office of International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS) at 740-593-4330 to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions or concerns related to your immigration status in the United States. Your immigration status is your responsibility, and ISFS is here to help provide you with the most current information in order for you to maintain your immigration status.

How To Update Your Address

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires all international students in J-1 status to maintain their current US and foreign addresses at all times in the SEVIS database.

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.

Please confirm that the current US local address (SEVIS US address) and permanent foreign address (SEVIS Foreign address) are correct before you can proceed. You can change your address by clicking here. Your local address (the address that you physically reside in while in the United States) must match your SEVIS US address.

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.

Travel Outside of the US

If you are traveling outside the U.S., you must notify ISFS prior to traveling outside the U.S. and request a travel signature so that your form I-20 can be endorsed for travel or a new form can be issued, if required. You will not be allowed back into the U.S. without the signed DS-2019, a valid visa, and a valid passport.

Students must complete a Travel Signature Request Form at least 2 weeks prior to their anticipated travel date.

Students in valid status may travel to Canada, Mexico and many of the adjacent islands without a valid visa if they have a valid passport, a valid I-94 and a valid signed DS-2019 AND as long as you plan to re-enter the U.S. in less than 30 days. Please visit this website  to learn more about this exemption.

How Do I Transfer to a New Institution?

What is a transfer?

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.

Can I transfer anywhere I want?

There are some restrictions for a J-1 student that wants to transfer to a new school, including the following:

  • 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.

When should I request a transfer?

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 isfs@ohio.edu, or by faxing them to 740-593-4328.

How will I know that my SEVIS record has been transferred?

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.

How does a transfer affect authorized employment?

On the day that you requested your SEVIS record to be released, you are responsible for reporting to the new educational institution for any immigration concerns. This means that your OHIO authorized employment must end the day before the release. You are eligible to begin employment at the new school on the day of transfer. However, each University's policies vary so check with the new institution for more information.

What else should I do after I decide to transfer from OHIO?

Work with your academic department, Residential Housing, Registrar, Bursar, Campus Care and the Library to make sure all academic, housing and financial pieces of your record are resolved.

Change of Level

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 Employment

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

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 full time during summer and official University holiday breaks for on-campus employment.
    • Students who already have assistantships considered to be equivalent to 20 hours a week are not eligible for additional on-campus employment. OHIO full-time student employment equivalency is 28 hours, unless your employer has received an exception from HR.

Please contact an international student advisor in ISFS to request authorization for on-campus employment. We will need a copy of your job offer letter on Ohio University letterhead from the department on campus that includes your employment start date, employment end date, 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

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.

How To Apply

You can apply for a period of academic training that will take place either during or immediately following your academic program.

Pre-Completion Academic Training : any opportunity prior to the completion of your academic program. Time spent on pre-completion experiences will be subtracted from the total time of academic training for which you are eligible.

Post-Completion Academic Training: opportunity that starts within 30 days of your academic program completion. Make sure you see ISFS at least two weeks prior to completing your academic program. We will extend your DS-2019 to include academic training

To apply for academic training, you must submit all of the following:

  • Academic Training: J-1 Student Request form (choose pre- or post-completion )
  • 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

J-2 Employment

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.


Health Insurance

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.

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 studentinsurance@ohio.edu.

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 customerservice@uhcsr.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 studentinsurance@ohio.edu.






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