J-1 Student Regulations

Each student in J-1 status is considered a participant of The Exchange Visitor Program. The sponsor of this Program is a university or organization that has brought you to the US to fulfill a specific educational objective. Such 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, the Program Sponsor issues the initial DS-2019 (needed to enter the US) and all subsequent DS-2019s needed for extensions. The Program Sponsor also has the authority to approve or deny on-campus and off-campus work permission, 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 visa status. If you "fall out of status" for any reason, you will no longer be eligible for work permission or other benefits afforded by your status. In some cases, you may be required to return to your home country.

Listed below are guidelines that 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 many unnecessary problems. Consult with an Advisor in Berkeley International Office if there is ever a question 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 validity.
  • Maintain full-time enrollment.
    Full-time enrollment is defined differently by each academic department. For immigration purposes, you must complete a minimum of 12 units per 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 when 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 Bear Facts within 10 days.
  • Get on-campus employment permission.
    Request a work permit from your program sponsor before accepting any on campus employment. For UC Berkeley-sponsored students, employment on campus must be limited to part time (20 hours per week) during the academic year, but can be full time during vacation periods. 
  • Get off-campus employment permission.
    Request a work permit from your program sponsor before accepting any off- campus employment.
  • Buy the required amount of health insurance coverage.
    You and your dependents must obtain health insurance coverage that meets J-1 federal guidelines for the entire length of your stay. The UC Berkeley Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) meets these requirements.
  • Get approval from Berkeley International Office before withdrawal from your program.
    If for some reason 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.