J Visa Status
- The Exchange Visitor Program
The Exchange Visitor Program provides opportunities for internationals come to the United States for a variety of educational and cultural exchange purposes under the sponsorship of a school, an agency, or an organization that has been designated as an exchange visitor sponsor by the United States Department of State.
The Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC) is a designated sponsor for the exchange visitor program at Texas State University. To determine if the TIEC is your program sponsor, look at item #2 on your Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (pink IA-66 form).
- Full course of Study
The J-1 exchange visitor student is expected to maintain a full course of study (12 hours for undergraduates, 9 hours for graduates) during each fall and spring semester. If the exchange visitor finds it necessary to fall below full-time hours, he or she should contact an international student advisor before dropping the class or classes.
Definition of "employment"
"Employment" is any type of work performed, or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, or for any other benefit. If your receive no pay or other compensation for work performed, the activity is not defined as "employment, but is considered to be volunteer work.
J-1 students may apply for authorization for three kinds of employment:
(1) academic training related to the course of study,
(2) work related to academic funding or general campus employment, or
(3) off campus employment authorization for unforeseen economic circumstances.
Each kind of employment has its own criteria and limits. Authorization must be obtained from the Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer for all types of employment.
The exchange visitor is prohibited from engaging in unauthorized employment. Engaging in unauthorized employment is considered in violation of the regulations and subjects the exchange visitor to termination from the program
- Program Length
The normal program duration is determined by the program requirements of your sponsor and the Texas State. Additional time to complete a program may be obtained by applying for an extension as discussed in item No. 5 below. Please note that you are required to leave the United States within 30 days of the date you have completed your program, even if the period on your DS-2019 is longer.
- Program Extensions
Program extensions are the most common type of request for DS-2019's. Your extension will be processed through the International Office. You should begin this process at least 60 days prior to the ending date of your program period indicated on your DS-2019.
- Travel Outside the United States During Your Stay
Prior to traveling outside the U.S. with the intent to return in your current program status requires the signature of the RO or ARO in Austin. If you plan to travel outside the United States please notify the IO at least three weeks before you plan to leave so we can recommend what type of documentation you may need and so that there will be enough time to obtain the signature or documentation. When you travel outside the United States and you plan to return to the United States during the time of your J-1 program, you must take a properly endorsed DS-2019 with you. Under some circumstances it will be necessary for you to obtain a new DS-2019. If your visa and your DS-2019 are valid, it is likely that you will only need a signature of the RO or ARO on the back of your current DS-2019. Please bring your current DS-2019, passport, and I-94 card with you when you come to our office.
- Transfer to Another Program
An exchange visitor may transfer from one program sponsor to another if the purpose of the transfer is to complete the objective for which he or she was admitted to exchange visitor status and if the exchange visitor remains in the same category. The transfer is accomplished through correspondence between the two Responsible Officers and notification to the U.S. Department of State. It is recommended that the exchange visitor begin the transfer process at least 60 days prior to the proposed starting date with the new sponsor to allow for processing of paperwork. Any employment under the new sponsor may not commence until the transfer has been approved. Transfer procedures must be completed before terminating employment at Texas State.
- Change of Category
In general, a change of category is not permitted. At the discretion of the United States Department of State, an exchange visitor may be permitted to change categories (i.e. change from a J-1 Research Scholar to J-1 Student). A change of category must be consistent with and related to the participants original objective. Sometimes, a change in category is considered a change of objective and is not permitted. If the exchange visitor applies for a change in category and it is rejected by the United States Department of State, the exchange visitor is expected to leave the country within 30 days of receiving the notice or within 30 days of the expiration date of the exchange visitor's current DS-2019, whichever is later. An approved application for change of category should be received by the J-1 exchange visitor before the exchange visitor begins activities in the new category. The exchange visitor is considered to be in legal status while the application is under consideration by the United States Department of State.
- The Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement
Some exchange visitors are subject to this requirement. Upon the completion of your program objectives (which often includes a period of Academic Training), you are expected to return to your country within 30 days, or within 30 days of the expiration date on your DS-2019, whichever is sooner. If you are subject to this requirement, you are restricted from changing to some other types of nonimmigrant status, and restricted from changing to permanent residency. Under certain circumstances you may apply for a waiver of this requirement. Processing the waiver application may take up to one year.
Note, if you receive a waiver, you are not permitted to apply for an extension of your DS-2019. Consequently, once the waiver is received, you should take steps to change to some other non immigrant status. It may take up to one year to receive a reply to a waiver application. Therefore, you should make sure that you have sufficient time indicated on your DS-2019 to apply for the waiver.
- Health Insurance Requirement
Health insurance meeting the requirements of the University of Houston and the Exchange Visitor Program is required for all J-1 Exchange Visitor students and their dependents. If you willfully fail to carry health insurance or health insurance that does not meet the necessary requirements for you or your J-2 dependents, your J-1 sponsor must terminate your program, and report the termination to the the United States Department of State.
- J-2 Dependents
In order to invite family members (i.e. husband, wife or children) to join you on the J-2 visa you should submit an DS-2019 request form to the IO.
J-2 dependents may apply to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (CIS) for employment authorization as long as the income from the employment is not needed to support the J-1 exchange visitor. See an international student advisor if your J-2 dependent wishes to apply for employment authorization.
- Reinstatement Procedures
If a J-1 exchange visitor violates his or her J-1 immigration status, it is possible to apply to be reinstated to lawful J-1 status in some cases. The most common ways J-1 students violate their status are working without authorization and failure to be a full-time student.
Reinstatement applications are approved or denied at the discretion of the United States Department of State. If a reinstatement application is not approved, the exchange visitor's program will be terminated and the exchange visitor will be required to leave the United States.