Virginia Tech®home

Comparison of the F-1 and J-1 student statuses


Visa status





Academic program

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

Grace period

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.

Practical 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

J-2 status, may work with USCIS authorization

Work permission

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.