Effective August 9, 2018, USCIS updated policy regarding Unlawful Presence, which increases potential consequences for J-1 Exchange Visitors who violate their status. The best way to avoid these consequences is to make sure you properly maintain your legal J-1 visa/immigration status. Unlawful presence days begin accruing from the day you violated status and can impact your ability to return to the U.S. in the future, including 3 or 10 year bars on re-entry (dependent on number of days accrued).
- 3 year bar: You accrue more than 180 unlawful presence days but less than 1 year of unlawful presence during a single stay and before the commencement of any removal proceedings.
- 10 year bar: You accrue one year or more of unlawful presence during a single stay, regardless of whether you leave before, during, or after removal proceedings.
What can you do? Below are BIO's tips on properly maintaining your J-1 Exchange Visitor status to keep your immigration record safe and secure:
- Report change of address, U.S. phone number, and email address to J scholar portal within 10 days of change. If you already have a J scholar portal account you can log in to your existing account. If you have not yet created an account you will need to do so at the same link.
- Report any changes to J-2 email addresses within 10 days of change to Berkeley International Office (Jscholar@berkeley.edu).
- Your legal J-1 visa/immigration status is only valid as long as you are maintaining your appointment with UC Berkeley and are engaging in research and/or teaching at UC Berkeley as noted on your Form DS-2019.
- J-1 Exchange Visitors are only allowed to receive payment as specifically noted on the Form DS-2019 unless given prior written authorization from the J Exchange Visitor program sponsor.
- For detailed information, see our Off-campus Payment Authorization page.
- Extending Program: Contact your department 4 months prior to the end date on your Form DS-2019. Your department must submit a J extension request to the Berkeley International Office. Please note that you must receive your extended Form DS-2019 prior to the end date of your current DS-2019 to ensure a continuation of your legal visa/immigration status and to avoid accruing unlawful presence.
- Keep your passport valid: Contact your home country embassy or consulate should your passport require renewal.
- Before any international travel, ensure you will have the necessary travel documents for your return and obtain a travel signature from BIO if needed. BIO generally recommends that the signature be current within 10 months of your re-entry date.
The Department of Homeland Security allows Exchange Visitors an additional period of 30 days following the end date of his or her Form DS-2019 to prepare for departure:
- CANNOT extend J program during the 30-day grace period.
- CANNOT conduct research/teach/work or get paid during the 30-day grace period.
- CANNOT transfer during the 30-day grace period.
- J-1 scholars must inform both the host department and Berkeley International Office (Jscholar@berkeley.edu) if they will be ending their program more than 15 days before the end date of the Form DS-2019.
- J-1 scholars must inform the Berkeley International Office (Jscholar@berkeley.edu) if accompanying J-2 dependents’ final departure from the U.S. is prior to the scholars’ departure date.
- You, and your J-2 dependents, must maintain health insurance coverage that meets J-1 federal guidelines for the entire length of your program.
- For resources and requirements, please see our Health Insurance page.