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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. The Cranwell International Center is the only office authorized to advise international undergraduate students on immigration matters.

Maintaining Legal J-1 Status

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.     Attend the school and degree program indicated on your Form DS-2019.

2.    Report to your Immigration Advisor’s office upon your arrival to Blacksburg, VA. New students can read additional information here.

3.    You must be enrolled full-time. Undergraduate students must be enrolled for at least 12 credit hours on-campus per semester. Only an Immigration Specialist/ARO can approve exceptions.

4.    You must make satisfactory academic progress. Undergraduate students must maintain a 2.0 GPA.

5.    You must obtain a new Form DS-2019 if you change majors, or add a major/minor. 

6.    You must have continuous health and accident insurance coverage.  All J visa holding students are required to have adequate health and accident insurance. You may purchase the university insurance, or an alternative insurance plan that meets university requirements. 

7.    Off-campus Employment. You are not allowed to work off-campus in the United States without authorization. Off-campus employment requires permission in advance and must meet certain conditions in order to be authorized. Contact an ARO for more information

8.    On-campus Employment. J-1 students are allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session. There is no limit to the number of hours students may work on-campus during official academic school breaks.

9.    All students must file tax forms every year, even if they have not earned any income. You can read more about filing your taxes as an international student here

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.  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.  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.  Obtain a travel signature before departing the U.S. 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.   Address Changes and Name Changes. 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.  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.