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Maintaining Your J-1 Status

The J Exchange Visitor category was developed to implement the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (Fulbright-Hayes Act) of 1961. The overall purpose of that Act, and the objective of the Exchange Visitor category, is "to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges." Once the J-1 student has completed their academic and professional objectives, the student is expected by the US government to return to their home country.

This section is not a comprehensive list and should not take the place of one-on-one consultation. If you are unsure or need further clarification, please contact the Cranwell International Center. Below is a summary of J-1 regulations and commonly used immigration terminology. Familiarize yourself with these basic principles and terms to avoid violating your immigration status.

1.   You must attend the school and degree program indicated on your Form DS-2019.

2.    You must report to Cranwell International Center upon your arrival to Blacksburg, VA. Students will need to submit the Immigration Check-In e-form through the InltHokies Portal after they arrive in the US/to campus. 

3.    You must be enrolled full-time. Exceptions to full-time enrollment can be approved only by an International Student Advisor at the Cranwell International Center. Do not drop beow full-time before receiving prior authorization from an International Student Advisor. 

4.    You must make satisfactory academic progress. Undergraduate students must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA, while Graduate students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA. 

5.     You must obtain a new Form DS-2019 if there are any changes to your program of study. Changes include things like a change in or addition of a new major, or a change in your program end date. 

6.    You must have continuous medical insurance coverage. All J-1 visa holders are required to have medical insurance. You may purchase the university insurance plan, or an alternative insurance plan that meets university requirements.

7.    You must seek proper authorization for any off-campus employment. Students are not allowed to work off-campus in the US without authorization. They must consult with an International Student Advisor at the Cranwell International Center regarding off-campus employment options.

8.   You must work within the restrictions for on-campus employment. J-1 students are allowed to work on-campus, up to 20 hours per week, when school is in session. Students may work on-campus, more than 20 hours per week, during official school breaks (e.g., summer, winter, etc.). 

9.    All students must file tax forms every year, even if they have not earned any income.  

10.  Students who plan to transfer into or out of Virginia Tech must meet with an ARO. If you are transferring to Virginia Tech from another school within the U.S., you must have your transfer finalized by your ARO. Additionally, students who plan to transfer out of Virginia Tech will need to meet with an immigration advisor to request the transfer of their record to the new university.

11.  You must keep your Form DS-2019 valid at all times. Always keep track of the expiration date of your Form DS-2019.  Request a new Form DS-2019 from your ARO if you need an extension before your form expires. 

12.  Your passport must be kept valid for the duration of your stay and for travel purposes. Maintaining a valid passport is the responsibility of the student.  The passport can be renewed by the home country consulate or embassy in the US.  Letters certifying enrollment in at Virginia Tech that assist in obtaining passport revalidation are available from the Registrar.

13.   You must maintain your visa. The visa stamp indicates your visa type, the period during which you may enter the United States and the number of entries permitted.  The stamp may only be obtained outside the U.S

14.  You must obtain a travel signature before departing the US.  You must obtain a travel signature on your Form DS-2019 if you plan to depart the US and reenter to continue your studies. Your ARO will provide the signature. Please plan ahead and submit your request at least 5 business days before traveling.

15.   You must keep your address changes and/or name changes up-to-date.You are required by law to report any address changes to your Immigration Advisor’s office within 10 days of moving so that your SEVIS record can be updated. You must also notify your ARO of any changes in your name. (NOTE: Updating HokieSPA does not update your immigration record).

16.  . You should be aware of your 30-day grace period. After the completion of your program of study at Virginia Tech, J-1 visa holders have 30 days in which to depart the US.