Comparison of the F-1 and J-1 student statuses
English as a Second Language
Bachelor's, Master's, Ph.D.
All degree and non-degree programs except English as a Second Language
Change to a different visa status
No limitations as long as F-1 status is valid
May not change categories within J-1 without leaving the U.S. Those not subject to the two-year home rule may change to any other visa status. Those subject to the two-year home rule may not change to H and L visas or to Permanent Residency
I-20 form issued by school
DS-2019 form issued by school or other sponsor (Fulbright, USAID, ISEP, etc.)
Full-time (9 hrs for graduate students*). Exceptions can be approved by Designated School Official (International Student Advisor)
Full-time (9 hrs for graduate students*). Exceptions can be approved only by the Responsible Officer (International Student Advisor)
Extension of stay
Processed by school and updated in SEVIS
Processed by sponsor and updated in SEVIS
Personal, family, non-governmental sponsors, institutional funds, other
Government, international organizations, exchange programs, other organizations
60 days after program completion
30 days after program completion
Required by school
Required by Department of State [must include health and accident, evacuation, maternity benefits (if applicable), and repatriation benefits]
Limitation of stay
Duration of status
Duration of status for degree-seeking students.
Non-degree students are limited to 24 months, including any periods of Academic Training.
12 months Optional Practical Training after each academic level; job offer not required, approved by USCIS
18 months Academic Training (36 months may be possible if in post-doctoral position); job offer required, approved by sponsor
Spouse and dependent children (under 21)
F-2 status, cannot work under any circumstances
On-campus work while maintaining F-1 status, off-campus work with prior permission of USCIS or Designated School Official (CPT or OPT)
On campus work while maintaining J-1 status; off-campus work with program sponsor's authorization (AT)
* Or 12 hours, if on a graduate assistantship.