J-1 Status

Fall day on campusI am a J-1 Student

Individuals - International students are personally responsible for maintaining their legal immigration status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) while in the U.S.  International Programs and Initiatives has a two-fold responsibility:  1) ensuring UAF compliance with the regulations and 2) to advise and assist you in maintaining your legal status.

The International Advisors are located in the International Programs & Initiatives, 215 Eielson Building, phone 474-7677 or 474-7157 and at email uaf-internationalprograms@alaska.edu.  At the request of the UAF Chancellor, they are authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and the Department of State, to provide international students and scholars with immigration advising. Please take advantage of their expertise in immigration regulations. Contact them as soon as possible regarding any change in your research or teaching activities, change of address, or employment authorizations. If you have questions or concerns, ask sooner rather than later.  The advisors are your advocates – they want to assist international students, scholars and professors in maintaining legal status.

International students and scholars are held to a higher standard than U.S. domestic students by U.S. immigration regulations.  Issues that may not seem important could have a life-changing impact for international students and scholars.

“To Remain in Status” or “Maintaining your status”

To remain in status means you possess the proper immigration documents and are obeying the U.S. regulations for your immigration status.

The documents you must have are:

  1. A valid passport: means that the passport that your country issued to you has not expired. It is very important that you do not let your passport expire. You can access your home country website to find the procedures for extending or renewing your passport if necessary.
  2. Port of entry immigration stamp and annotation in your passport: When you arrived at the U.S. port of entry, the Customs and Border Protection officer stamped your passport and annotated the stamp with “J-1” and “D/S” while updating your immigration record and creating an electronic I-94 arrival record. This documents your official status in the U.S. D/S means duration of stratus. It indicates that as long as your Form DS-2019 is valid AND you obey the laws and regulations regarding your immigration status, you have legal status in the U.S. Additionally, the stamp shows the date you entered the U.S. and the location. You should print a copy of your electronic I-94 arrival record for your personal reference and use from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website: www.cbp.gov/i94. You will need your passport information when completing the request online. You may need this for documentation purposes if applying for future immigration benefits.
  3. The visa in your passport gives you the authorization to request admission to the United States at a U.S. port of entry (POE). Your visa may expire and you are still in the U.S. legally. Once you have been admitted to the U.S., the U.S. visa in your passport is not an important document – except if you leave the U.S. and want to return in the same immigration status. If it expires and you leave the U.S. and wish to return to the U.S. in the same immigration status, you will have to go to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate (again) and apply for another visa before you will be allowed to re-enter the U.S.
  4. The Form DS-2019 is the document that controls your stay in the U.S. and what you are authorized to do while here. Item #4 on the DS-2019 show the date when your authorization to participate in your program in the U.S. ends. You should know the expiration date of your document. Sometimes the authorized period of stay may be extended. Talk with the Study Away Advisor at least one months before your document expires so that you know what has to be done to extend your authorized period of stay. As a J-1 exchange student, you have a 30-day grace period following the program end date. The grace period may be used for making travel arrangements to return home, sending personal belongings home and sight seeing activities. Program extensions must be processed before the end of the program, not during the grace period.

The regulations you need to obey are:

  1. Attend the university that you are authorized to attend, every semester, except during summer. Notify the International Advisor if you plan to transfer to a different school. Your SEVIS record must be transferred to the new school before you can legally begin taking classes there.
  2. Take a full course of study every semester (except summer). As students, you are required to be enrolled in full-time status. You must request and receive approval for less than full-time enrollment from the International Student Advisor before the semester begins.
    1. Graduate students must be registered for at least 9 credits; undergraduate students must be enrolled in at least 12 credits every semester and all courses must be for a grade. Courses taken as an “Audit” do not count toward the minimum enrollment requirements.
    2. Of the minimum number of required credits, all credits must be traditional, in class courses. If you wish to take more than the minimum required number of credits, any additional may be independent study or distance delivery courses.
    3. Courses earned under the alternative credit options in English, Foreign Languages and or Math do not count towards the credit per semester requirement.
    4. Before dropping classes international students are required to have authorization from the International Advisor, if the reduction of credits drops the individual below the required minimum number of credits per semester. To remain in status, approval must be received prior to dropping the credits.
    5. The U.S. immigration regulations also state that you must continue to make satisfactory progress towards the completion of your program.
  3. J-1 students are not allowed to move from one level to another without U.S. Department of State approval in advance. Additionally, you must maintain the program objectives stated at the time the J-1 visa was issued, and annotated on the form DS-2019.
  4. The only authorized employer is UAF. DO NOT accept off-campus employment without authorization. Under U.S. immigration regulations, students cannot work more than a total of 20 hours per week while school is in session. Students may work over 20 hours per week when classes are not in session with authorization from their employing UAF department (example: summer vacation). If you have a graduate assistantship, it is especially important that you do not work more than 20 hours in any week. You must write the actual hours (and days) that you work on your timesheet. Example: It is not legal for you to work only 15 hours and put 20 hours on your timesheet; or to work 25 hours and only put 20 hours. You must report the actual hours you work. Note: You must have written employment authorization from the U.S. Department of State Responsible Officer before beginning work, to include on-campus jobs. If you wish to work on campus, please see the Study Away Advisor.
  5. Report a change of residence to the International Advisor within 10 days of your change of residence. You may complete the Office of International Programs Change of Address form or you may send the information by email to carol.holz@alaska.eduor uaf-internationalprograms@alaska.edu
  6. Leave the U.S by the end of the 30-day authorized grace period or apply for an extension at least 30 days before the completion date.
  7. You are required by the Department of State to maintain health insurance for the entire time you are in the United States. You must provide the International Advisor with proof of health insurance coverage every semester. Information about health care and insurance in the U.S. is available under Health Care and Insurance in the Handbook.

International students who fail to maintain the required cumulative GPA (2.0 for undergraduates, 3.0 for graduates) must discuss the legal status of their stay with the International Advisor. Being placed on academic probation could jeopardize your non-immigrant status.

International students must ensure that their actions do not compromise the legality of their non-immigrant status. The UAF Student Code of Conduct is printed every semester in the back of the Class Schedule. You should be familiar with the campus rules and Code of Conduct.

The phrase “out of status” means that you have violated one or more of the immigration laws related to your immigration status. If, for any reason, you think you are out of status, see the International Advisor immediately, so that reinstatement can be started.

So, to “remain in status” or “maintain your status”, means that you have not let your important documents expire (passport or DS-2019) and that you obey the regulations of your J-1 immigration status.

It may become important to have copies of your immigration documents in the future. UAF does not keep these records beyond three years. You should make a copy of the I-94 card, both sides, as well as your passport ID and visa pages. They should be maintained in one place, such as in a large envelope. On leaving the U.S., as soon as it is convenient, you should staple your airline boarding pass to the I-94 copy so that you have documented arrival and departure dates. This should be done for each I-94 you receive.

Additionally, copies of your tax forms and the UA International Form should be kept in the envelope also. You should keep these records as long as you may be employed in the U.S. during your professional career. In the future, if you apply for entry to the U.S. in different visa categories, the immigration service has the right to ask for copies of all previous visa and tax documents. UAF does not keep these records beyond three years from the date your SEVIS record ends.


I am a J-1 Scholar, Researcher, Professor or Student Intern

Information to legally remain in the U.S.:

Exchange Visitor (J-1) Immigration Status

Know your status category and the restrictions to that category. The J immigration status has 12 sub-categories. UAF is authorized four of the 12; they are: student, research scholar, short-term scholar and professor.  Your sub-category is shown in item #4 of your DS-2019. Each sub-category has specific regulations. The research scholar and professor sub-categories have very similar regulations. Your sponsor is the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The J status is also called the exchange visitor status and was established for the purpose stated below. 

22 CFR 62.20 “A primary purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to foster the exchange of ideas between Americans and foreign nationals and to stimulate international collaborative teaching and research efforts. The exchange of professors and research scholars promotes interchange, mutual enrichment, and linkages between research and educational institutions in the United States and foreign countries. It does so by providing foreign professors and research scholars the opportunity to engage in research, teaching, and lecturing with their American colleagues, to participate actively in cross-cultural activities with Americans, and ultimately to share with their fellow citizens their experiences and increased knowledge about the United States and their substantive fields”

“To Remain in Status” or “Maintaining your status”

To remain in status means you possess the proper immigration documents and are obeying the U.S. regulations for your category.

The most important documents that you have are your passport and DS-2019. Once you have been admitted to the U.S., the U.S. visa in your passport is not an important document – except when you leave the U.S. and want to return in the same immigration status. (See below: Visa)

A valid passport means that the passport that your country issued to you has not expired. It is very important that you do not let your passport expire. You can access your home country website to find the procedures for extending or renewing your passport if necessary.

Port of entry immigration stamp and annotation in your passport: When you arrived at the U.S. port of entry, the Customs and Border Protection officer stamped your passport and annotated the stamp with “J-1” and “D/S” while updating your immigration record and creating an electronic I-94 arrival record. This documents your official status in the U.S. Additionally, the stamp shows the date you entered the U.S. and the location. You may print a copy of your electronic I-94 arrival record for your personal reference and use from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. You will need your passport information when completing the request online.

D/S means duration of status. It indicates that as long as your Form DS-2019 is valid AND you obey the laws and regulations regarding your immigration status, you have legal status in the U.S.

The Form DS-2019 (J-1) is the document used to determine the duration of your stay in the U.S. Item #4 on the DS-2019 shows the date when your authorization to remain in the U.S. ends. You should know the expiration date of your document. Sometimes the authorized period of stay may be extended. Talk with the International Advisor at least two months before your document expires so that you know what has to be done to extend your authorized period of stay. You are authorized to participate in your exchange program through the end date of the DS-2019. You are authorized to remain in the U.S. up to an additional 30 days, known as the 30-day grace period, to make travel arrangements to leave the U.S., to make shipping arrangements for your personal belongings and/or to do sight-seeing or tourist activities.

It may become important to have copies of your immigration documents in the future. UAF does not keep these records beyond three years. You should make a copy of the I-94 card, both sides, as well as your passport ID and visa pages. They should be maintained in one place, such as in a large envelope. On leaving the U.S., as soon as it is convenient, you should staple your airline boarding pass to the I-94 copy so that you have documented arrival and departure dates. This should be done for each I-94 you receive.

Additionally, copies of your tax forms should be kept in the envelope also. You should keep these records as long as you may be employed in the U.S. during your professional career. In the future, if you apply for entry to the U.S. in different visa categories, the immigration service has the right to ask for copies of all previous visa and tax documents. UAF does not keep these records beyond three years from the date your SEVIS record ends.

As a research scholar, short-term scholar, professor or student intern in this immigration status, you do not have complete discretion as to when or where you can work. Unless there is a second sponsor listed on your DS-2019, the University of Alaska Fairbanks is your only legal employer.

22 CFR 62.20(a) Student interns who are part of a structured and guided work-based learning program as set forth in an individual Training/Internship Placement Plan (T/IPP) that reinforces a student’s or recent graduate’s academic study, recognizes the need for work-based experience, provides on-the-job exposure to American techniques, methodologies, and expertise, and enhances the Intern’s knowledge of American culture and society. Student interns must work at 32 hours per week.

22 CFR 62.20(f) Professors or research scholars shall conduct their exchange activity at the location(s) listed on the Form DS-2019 which could be either at the location of the exchange visitor sponsor or the site of a third party facilitating the exchange. An exchange visitor may also engage in activities at [a] location not listed on the Form DS-2019 if such activities constitute occasional lectures or consultations.”

22 CFR 62.20(g) Professors and research scholars may participate in occasional lectures and short-term consultation, unless disallowed by the sponsor. Such lectures and consultation must be incidental to the exchange visitor’s primary program activities. If wages or other remuneration are received by the exchange visitor for such activities, the exchange visitor must act as an independent contractor as such term is defined in 8 CFR 274(a)(1)(j).”

Occasional implies single events, not an ongoing activity. To ensure that these activities do not interfere with and are in keeping with the activities of the exchange visitor’s programs, the visitor must:

22 CFR 62.20(g)(1): (i) Be directly related to the objectives of the exchange visitor’s program;

(ii) Be incidental to the exchange visitor’s primary program activities; and

(iii) Not delay the completion date of the visitor’s program.

Employment not related to the objective of the program cannot be considered part of the program or part of the purpose for which J status was granted, and is therefore, not allowed.

J-1 Exchange Visitors are required by regulation (22 CFR 62.14) to have health insurance for yourself and any J-2 dependents who live with you in the United States. The University of Alaska Fairbanks is required “terminate an exchange visitor’s participation and any accompanying dependents who willfully fails to remain in compliance with this section (regulation).” Proof of insurance is required and to be provided when you come to the Office of International Programs and Initiatives for your orientation.

Special Note regarding Health Insurance: Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which governs health insurance coverage for all people residing in the U.S., exchange visitors may be or become subject to the individual mandate provision of the Act if they become U.S. residents for U.S. tax purposes. Please refer to the U.S. Tax Information section for the U.S. tax residency definition.

Any change in your residence and mailing addresses, telephone number, email address or primary site of activity must be reported to the International Advisor within 10 days of the change. The Advisor then has 10 days during which the immigration authorities must be notified through data entry in the SEVIS database.

J-2 DEPENDENTS:

U.S. Immigration narrowly defines dependents as the spouse and/or unmarried minor children (under the age of 21) who have entered the U.S. in J-2 status. J-2 dependents must be sponsored by the J-1 exchange visitor and can accompany the J-1 visitor when they enter the U.S. or may join the J-1 at a later date. Each dependent must have a dependent DS2019 and a J-2 visa stamp to enter the U.S. in J-2 status.

Special note for Research Scholar/Professor category participants: You must be out of the U.S. for an aggregate of 2 years before you may return as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor. This rule does not affect U.S. re-entry in any other immigration status.

Special note for Student Intern category participants: Your advisor/sponsor is required to provide a written evaluation at mid-term (6 months) and a final evaluation at the end of your program to the Office of International Programs and Initiatives.

Section 212E: If you are subject to Section 212E (2-year home stay provision) you may not be sponsored for H-1B status or U.S. permanent residency until this provision is satisfied. This does not affect U.S. re-entry in any other status.

Please refer to the program specific material included with your DS-2019 for more information regarding the two-year out-of-the U.S. requirements for Research Scholars and Professors before repeat participation in those categories and the two-year (Section 212E) home stay provision.

It may become important to have copies of your immigration documents in the future. Do not dispose of your DS-2019 or passport after they have expired. UAF does not keep these records beyond three years. If you need copies, the Office of International Programs and Initiatives can provide another copy for your records. Your documents should be maintained in one place, such as in a large envelope. On leaving the U.S., as soon as it is convenient, you should also keep a copy of your travel itinerary and boarding passes (showing the date you left the U.S.) with your U.S. immigration documents. This along with your stamped passport page, documents your U.S. arrival and departure dates.

You should keep these records as long as you may be employed in the U.S. during your professional career. In the future, if you apply for entry to the U.S. in different visa categories, the immigration service has the right to ask for copies of all previous visa and tax documents. As a reminder, UAF does not keep these records beyond three years from the date your SEVIS record ends.

J-2 Dependents

U.S. Immigration narrowly defines dependents as the spouse and/or unmarried minor children (under the age of 21) who have entered the U.S. in J-2 status.  J-2 dependents must be sponsored by the J-1 exchange visitor and can accompany the J-1 visitor when they enter the U.S. or may join the J-1 at a later date. Each dependent must have a dependent DS2019 and a J-2 visa stamp to enter the U.S. in J-2 status. 

The J-1 sponsor is required to provide their dependents with adequate health insurance for the duration of their program, as required by the U.S. Department of State regulations. Proof of insurance is required and to be provided to the Office of International Programs and Initiatives. The University of Alaska Fairbanks is required to “terminate an exchange visitor’s participation and any accompanying dependents who willfully fails to remain in compliance with this section (regulation).”

J-2 dependents who are planning to travel outside the United States must stop by the Office of International Programs and Initiatives so that the International Advisors can sign the travel authorization on their DS2019. The signature is valid for reentry to the U.S. for up to six months from the signature date. Without the travel authorization signature on the DS2019, you may be denied reentry in the J-2 status even with the valid J-2 visa in your passport. If your visa has expired, you must obtain a new J-2 visa from a U.S. consular office before you may reenter the U.S. in J-2 status.

In summary, to “remain in status” or “maintain your status”, means that you have not let your important documents expire (passport or DS-2019) and that you obey the regulations of your J- immigration status.

Note: J1 sponsors are required to report if the accompanying spouse and dependents leave the U.S. with the intention of not returning before the end of the exchange visitor’s program.

Accompanying spouse and dependent(s) must report their telephone numbers and email addresses(es) to the International Advisor at orientation and within 10 days of any change. The Advisor then has 10 days during which the immigration authorities must be notified through data entry in the SEVIS database.

J-2 dependents are allowed to be part-time or full-time students at U.S. colleges or universities. Children in J-2 status are able to attend public school in the U.S.

J-2 dependents must receive work permission from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in order to be employed in the U.S. Applications can be made to DHS for employment authorization as long as the employment is not for the purpose of supporting the J-1. Applications can take up to 3-5 months for processing. Please contact your International Advisor for more information. Be advised, J-2 dependents may not “volunteer” in positions where others receive compensation to perform the same services.

  • J-2 dependents are assumed to be residing with the J-1 sponsor during the specified program. When the principal visa holder is temporarily absent from the U.S. it is recommended that the J-2 not remain in the U.S., if the J-1 will be absent more than 30 days.
  • If the sponsor on the J-1 visa is subject to 2-year home stay provision, his/her dependent spouse and children who received a J-2 are also subject to the same requirement.