Maintaining J-1 Status


To maintain J-1 nonimmigrant status, you must:

  • Maintain valid passport, Form DS-2019 with travel signature, and I-94 record of arrival throughout duration of J-1 program.
  • Pursue the stated research/teaching or other authorized activity of your J-1 program.
  • Do not engage in unauthorized employment. Unauthorized employment will result in termination of the J-1 record.
  • Notify OVIS of any change of address and/or telephone number within 10 days of the change.
  • Notify OVIS of any change in your site of activity, funding, or program dates.
  • Follow correct procedures for shortening or extending your exchange visitor program, or transferring to another J-1 program in the U.S.
  • Maintain sufficient health insurance coverage for yourself and any dependent J-2 family members for the duration of your J-1 program.
  • Follow the rules for the grace period following the end of your J-1 program.

You can find more information on the Department of State’s J-1 website.

Required Documents

As a J-1 exchange visitor in the U.S., you are required to have the following unexpired documents:

  • Current passport
  • J-1 Visa. This stamp or sticker in your passport allows you to enter the U.S. for the primary purpose as stated on your Form DS-2019. The stamp may expire while you are in the United States. After the stamp is expired, you must get a new one to return to the United States. Permission to remain in the U.S. depends upon the validity of the underlying Form DS-2019. Visa applications are normally made in your home country. Talk with your OVIS advisor about “third country” visa applications.
    Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa stamp requirement.
  • I-94 record
    • If you travel by land, the I-94 card is given to you by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the border when you travel to the U.S. from Canada or Mexico. You will fill out the card, and then the immigration officer will stamp part of it and give it back to you. The I-94 card will have your Admission number on it and it should indicate "D/S" (Duration of Status) instead of an expiration date. This means that the institution sponsoring you can extend your program of stay, even if the visa itself has expired. The I-94 card should remain in your passport at all times.
    • If you travel by air or sea, the Admission Stamp is given to you by the CBP officer at the port of entry when you arrive in the United States. Your passport will be stamped with your date of admission, class of admission and admitted-until date ("J-1; D/S"). Your arrival information, including your admission number, will be processed electronically by CBP. We strongly recommend that you print and keep an electronic I-94 record after you enter the United States.
  • Form DS-2019 is issued to you by your program sponsor, Dartmouth College. The Form DS-2019 allows a J-1 exchange visitor to apply for a J-1 visa to enter and remain in the U.S. for as long as the J-1 status is maintained. An exchange visitor may not remain in the U.S. past the program end date on the Form DS-2019. The exchange visitor must read and understand the information on page 2 before signing at the bottom of page 1. Before leaving the country for a vacation or break, J-1 exchange visitors must receive a travel endorsement from the ARO/OVIS advisor.

If you lose any of these documents, contact OVIS.

Accruing Unlawful Presence

On August 9, 2018 USCIS issued policy guidance on the accrual of unlawful presence for F, M and J nonimmigrants.  Under the proposed policy, USCIS would begin counting unlawful presence when there is a violation of status. The violation could be intentional or unintentional, knowing or unknowing.  Accrual of unlawful presence days begins the day after a violation occurs.  Accrual of more than 180 days of unlawful presence triggers a bar to reentry to the U.S. of three years.  Accrual of more than 365 days of unlawful presence triggers a bar to reentry to the U.S. of ten years.

The Department of Homeland Security was stopped by a federal court from implementing the unlawful presence policy, and during the appeals process the government withdrew its own appeal, ending the litigation.  It is still possible that the federal government will seek to adopt this change through the rulemaking process and introduce it as a new regulation rather than a change in policy.  OVIS will provide updates as new information becomes available.

It is crucial that J-1 Exchange Visitors understand and adhere to the rules governing maintenance of status.  OVIS works closely with our J-1 student and scholar populations to monitor data reported in SEVIS, advise students, scholars and other Exchange Visitors on maintaining valid status including reporting obligations, travel and employment restrictions, and to communicate changing policy and regulations.  J-1 Exchange Visitors, in turn, are responsible for understanding and following the rules and regulations governing their J-1 status. 

If you have questions about maintaining your status, contact your OVIS advisor.