J-1 Students

students holding a football


The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program was developed by the United States government in conjunction with governments of countries around the world to serve as a forum for educational and cultural exchange.  The program provides opportunities for students, scholars, and their dependents to spend time in foreign countries learning skills and sharing their knowledge and culture. 

In the United States, the Exchange Visitor program is presently monitored by the Department of State. Organizations, such as the University of California, Davis, have applied to the Department of State to be designated as sponsoring institutions for the J-1 Exchange Visitor program. Foreign nationals who participate in this program in the United States receive J-1 status, which classifies them as members of this exchange program. The official program description of the UCD Exchange Visitor Program is:

A  program to provide study, teaching, research, observation, consultation, sharing of skills, cross-cultural activities, or a combination thereof conducted by UCD and institutes and organizations with which it is affiliated for students, professors, researchers, short-term scholars, and specialists.

It is extremely important to comply with immigration regulations in order to maintain lawful status. Immigration law has instituted severe penalties for "overstays" and "unlawful presence" in the United States.  It is the student's own responsibility to maintain lawful status. Students should consult an SISS International Student Advisor with any questions regarding maintaining lawful status.

Responsibilities of J-1 Students

  • Maintain Required Documentation
  • J students are required to have the following documents:

    1. Valid DS-2019 —If you receive a new DS-2019, keep the old DS-2019 in a safe place.

    2. Valid passport —Passport must be valid at least 6 months into the future at all times. It is the student's responsibility to extend it through his/her embassy before it expires.

    3. Entry Stamp in Passport Marked with Visa Type and D/S.

  • Duration of Stay
  • J-1 students and dependents are admitted to the United States for duration of status (D/S).  Duration of status means:

    1. The period of time during which the student pursues a full-time course of study

    2. Plus any authorized period of academic training

    3. Plus 30 days after completion of program or academic training in which to apply for a change of status or leave the U.S. Please note that finishing your program during winter quarter without academic training or a change of status will affect your ability to attend spring commencement.

    4. J-1 students must have an unexpired DS-2019 at all times, and are also required to have adequate health insurance in effect for themselves and their accompanying family members throughout their stay.

  • Engage in Appropriate Activities
  • J-1 students are required to register for and complete a full course of study each quarter except during vacation. Full-time is defined as 12 units per quarter (except summer) and 10 units for Law students; filing fee is considered full-time. Under-enrollment may be permitted due to medical reasons or legitimate academic reasons. If you plan to enroll less than full-time, you must obtain written approval from an SISS International Student Advisor before the beginning of the term.
  • Annual Vacation
  • J-1 students may take one quarter of vacation each year (usually during the summer), provided that they are eligible and intend to register for the next term.
  • Employment Only with Authorization
  • J-1 students maintaining a full course of study and who are in good academic standing are permitted with PRIOR written approval of the sponsor (the sponsor is the issuer of the DS-2019) to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and full-time (up to 40 hours per week) during vacations. Refer to the Student Employment page for more information.
  • Mandatory Health Insurance
  • Every J-1 and J-2 exchange visitor must have health insurance that meets the minimum requirements. The University's student health plan meets these minimum requirements. Information on health insurance for J-2 dependents is available at SISS.
  • Change Your Address
  • Updating your local U.S. address within 10 days of moving is required by immigration law. This should be done by using an iGlobal web form. The address entered must be your local U.S. address (where you will sleep at night, not an office or a Post Office Box number). 
  • Confirming Your Student or Enrollment Status
  • If you are renewing your F-1 or J-1 visa, or otherwise need a letter to confirm your student status or your enrollment status, you should submit a Request for Education Verification from the Office of the Registrar. See the Education Verification Request Form for a complete list of information available.

    If you are a graduate student in Filing Fee status, you will need to contact the appropriate Student Affairs Officer at the Office of Graduate Studies before you can request a Letter of Certification.
  • Travel
  • Necessary documents for J-1 and J-2 travel outside the U.S. and reentry to this country include a valid passport, valid J-1 or J-2 visa stamp, and an unexpired Form DS-2019 with updated sponsor's signature. If you plan to renew your U.S. Visa, additional materials will be required. For more information about travel outside the U.S., refer to the travel page, the Student Travel Advisory or talk with an SISS International Student Advisor.
  • Extension of Program
  • If you are unable to complete your studies before the program completion date on the DS-2019, you must apply for an extension at least 30 days prior to the expiration date of your DS-2019 and meet the following criteria:

    1. Status has been continually maintained.

    2. Compelling medical or academic reasons other than probation or suspension caused the delay in completion.

    Submit a DS-2019 request form with documentation of financial support to SISS. SISS will issue a new DS-2019 to you and will notify USCIS of the extension.

  • Transfer of Program
  • J-1 students who wish to transfer to another J-1 sponsor must obtain a written release from the current sponsor.

    To transfer, you must:

    1. request a new DS-2019 from the new sponsor,

    2. obtain a release signature on the new DS-2019 from the current sponsor, and

    3. present the new DS-2019 with the release signature to the new sponsor.

    All of these steps should be completed before the expiration date on the current DS-2019 and before starting employment with the new sponsor. Refer to Transferring Out/Leaving UC Davis for more information.

  • Responsibility for Dependents
  • The J-1 scholar is responsible to ensure that J-2 dependents maintain their lawful status while in the United States.
  • J-2 Dependent Employment
  • J-2 dependents may apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)  for permission to accept employment as long as the purpose is not for the support of the J-1 student or scholar. Refer to our information page for J-2 Dependents for more information.
  • Two-year Home Country Residence Requirement
  • At the conclusion of the J-1 program, individuals who are subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement must return to their country of permanent residence for at least two years before re-entering the U.S. in some visa categories.  For more information, please refer to the U.S. State Department's Exchange Visitor Visa information on Two-year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement.