Students in J-1 status are considered participants of the Exchange Visitor Program, which is managed by the US Department of State.
Your J-1 sponsor may be a university, educational institution or organization that has brought you to the US to fulfill a specific educational objective. Sponsorship by a university may or may not signify financial support. Sponsorship by an organization, on the other hand, is commonly connected with some level of financial support.
In most cases, a program sponsor issues the initial DS-2019 (needed to enter the US) and subsequent DS-2019s. The program sponsor also has the authority to approve or deny on-campus employment, school transfers, and Academic Training. The program sponsor is listed on section #2 of the DS-2019 form.
Maintaining Legal Status: Basic Guidelines
Students should be aware of the federal regulations governing their immigration status during and after completion of the study program. Violation of any of these regulations may result in the loss of immigration status. If you "fall out of status" for any reason, you will no longer be eligible for permission to study, work or other benefits afforded by the J-1 status. In some cases, you may be required to return to your home country.
Listed below are guidelines J-1 international students should follow to make sure their J-1 visa status remains valid. Although other situations not mentioned here may lead to the loss of status, following these guidelines will help you to avoid unnecessary problems. Consult with an advisor in Berkeley International Office if you have questions about your visa status.
- Keep your passport valid at all times.
Contact your home country's embassy in the U.S. for information about renewing your passport.
- Maintain full-time enrollment.
Full-time enrollment is defined differently by each academic department at UC Berkeley. For immigration purposes, you must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 units per semester (Fall and Semester).
- Keep your DS-2019 document valid.
Keep your DS-2019 valid at all times. Request an extension of the DS-2019 document from your program sponsor at least 30 days before the end date on the DS-2019 document, if you will need additional time to complete your program. You must receive approval from your program sponsor before changing your major or degree level.
- Keep your local address updated.
Report any change of your local residential address through Cal Central within 10 days of the move.
- Get on-campus employment permission.
Request work permission from your program sponsor before starting any on campus employment. For UC Berkeley-sponsored students, employment on campus is limited to part time (20 hours per week) during the academic year, but can be full time during vacation periods (winter and summer breaks).
- Get off-campus employment permission.
Request Academic Training from your program sponsor before starting any off- campus employment.
- Buy the required amount of health insurance coverage.
You, and your J-2 dependents, must obtain health insurance coverage that meets J-1 federal guidelines for the entire length of your program, including post-completion Academic Training. The UC Berkeley Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) meets these requirements.
- Get approval from Berkeley International Office before withdrawal from your program.
If you are not able to complete your academic program, you must notify your program sponsor of your plans to leave the University. See also Withdrawal, Cancellation or Dismissal.
- Get a travel endorsement for travel out of the U.S. and re-entry.
Before your departure from the U.S., request a signature for re-entry from the program sponsor (Berkeley International Office when UCB is sponsor). The signature is valid for one year. See the Travel and Re-entry Documents page for more details.
- Request program or school transfer from your sponsor.
If you wish to move from one university to another, you will need permission from your current program sponsor. If you wish to change universities, contact that organization as early as possible to receive authorization and further instructions.
- Discuss a change of major or degree objective with your sponsor.
Any such changes should be discussed fully with your program sponsor before making the change. A change of major or degree objective may violate your J-1 visa status if not approved.
Understanding J-1/J-2 Status: Additional Information
J-1 Dependent Employment & Study
J-2 dependents are eligible to study part-time or full-time in the U.S. J-2 dependents may apply for employment authorization, but should be advised that employment may not begin until the J-2 has received the work permit.
Special J-1/J-2 Rules- Two Year Home Physical Presence Requirement & 12-Month Bar
J-1s and their J-2 dependents may be subject to the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement. J-2 and their J-2 dependents may also be subject to the 12-Month Bar, depending on the length of the J program. Please note that the Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement and the 12-Month Bar are seperate and distinct rules. For more information, see Berkeley International Office workshops covering these issues.