Maintaining J-1 Status
At all times, J-1 exchange visitors are expected to maintain:
- Valid DS-2019
- Valid passport
- Printed copy of your I-94 and an updated copy of your I-94 upon completion of your travel to the U.S.
- Unexpired passport
This form is issued by the U.S. institution at which you will engage in a J-1 program. The U.S. Consulate initially examines this document at the time of your visa application. Then, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) examines and returns the document to you when you go through your U.S. port of entry. The DS-2019 must remain valid during your stay in the U.S. For some students, the International Programs Office is the DS-2019 issuing authority, while for others the issuing authority is the organization sponsoring your J-1 program. If any changes and/or corrections are needed to your DS-2019, or if it is lost or misplaced, please contact whichever issuing authority applies to your situation immediately.
Arrival Departure Record (I-94)
The arrival/departure I-94 is the official record of your period of authorized stay in the U.S. Details such as your admission status (e.g., J-1), date of entry, and status end date will be stamped directly in your passport. Your admission information will also be recorded electronically by CBP. You should access and print your CBP admission record information online. For exchange visitors in J status, the record should indicate an expiration of "D/S," meaning "duration of status," or that your stay in the U.S. is legal as long as you maintain your J-1 status. If your record or that of your dependents has an expiration date rather than "D/S," immediately tell your IPO advisor. A stay beyond the I-94 end date can have serious consequences for you and/or your dependents. Your electronic record will be updated every time you are admitted into the U.S.
All nonimmigrants must have a valid passport to enter and remain in the U.S. In most cases, the passport needs to be valid for at least the next 6 months beyond the time the individual seeks admission into the country. Do not let your (or your dependents') passport expire while staying in the U.S. or you (or they) could lose eligibility for certain benefits.
Other Important Documentation Descriptions:
A visa page is an entry permit valid for a specific time frame; it allows the holder to seek admission to the U.S. at a port of entry. However, keep in mind that it neither guarantees admission into the country nor determines how long you can legitimately stay in the U.S. Unless you are Canadian, you must have a valid J-1 visa in your passport in order to be allowed entry to the U.S. You must wait to receive your DS-2019 before applying and receiving your visa. Because a visa page is only used for entering the country, it is allowed to expire during your stay in the U.S. The expiration of the visa does not affect permission to stay or permission to work in the U.S.
SEVIS Fee Receipt
The receipt is proof you need to provide at the time of your interview appointment at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy that the SEVIS fee for your application has been paid. The SEVIS fee is a fee charged by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to defray the costs of the administration and maintenance of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is the system used to monitor and track F-1 students, J-1 Exchange Visitors, and their respective dependents.
This payment cannot be made until you receive your DS-2019. Once you receive your DS-2019, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee by completing an I-901 Fee Remittance form, in English, online. Once completed, please print the payment confirmation. Please note that if you are already in J-1 status in the U.S. and are transferring your status within SEVIS to University of Houston-Victoria, then this fee does not need to be paid again.
J-1 exchange visitors who have paid their required I-901 SEVIS fee can access FMJfee.com to check the status of the payment. The mobile-friendly site will provide news and updates regarding your SEVIS fee as well as answers to SEVIS fee frequently asked questions.
Note: Even though you can access the fee payment confirmation online, you still need to have a printed payment confirmation for your appointment.
Reporting a Change of Address
You and your dependents are required to report any changes in your U.S. address within 10 days of the move. To report a change of address, email IPO so that we can update your information in the necessary databases. An exchange visitor or dependent who fails to submit a change of U.S. address as required is considered to be in violation of the Exchange Visitor Program regulations.
Change of Address for Future Change of Status
In the future, if you change status to another visa status such as H-1B, you and your dependents will be required to report an initial U.S. address and any subsequent address changes to the Department of Homeland Security by submitting the Form AR-11.
Health Insurance Requirement
J-1 Exchange Visitor Program regulations require that J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents carry health insurance meeting specific minimum standards (Code of Federal Regulations - 22 CFR 62.14). Failure to maintain required insurance coverage can result in termination of J status. Exchange visitors who are not eligible for UHV benefits must obtain minimum insurance coverage before coming to the United States. Because health care expenses in the United States can be costly, it is possible that the coverage amounts listed below might not be sufficient to cover all expenses for medical care. For this reason, higher levels of coverage may be accepted if you wish. The form to enroll for UHV-approved health insurance is here.
- Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;
- Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000;
- Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of exchange visitors to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000;
- Deductibles not exceeding $500 per accident or illness
Insurance Policies Secured to Fulfill This Requirement
- May require a reasonable waiting period for pre-existing conditions as determined by current industry standards;
- May include provisions for co-insurance under the terms of which the exchange visitor may be required to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness; and
- Shall not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which the exchange visitor participates.
- Underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of A or above; a McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor's Claims-paying Ability rating of A or above; a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above; a Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of A or above; a Moody's Investor Services rating of A3 or above; or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify; or
- Backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor's home country; or
- Part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor; or
- Offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Extending your J-1 Program
Each J-1 category has a maximum time limit for the J-1 program.
- J-1 professors' and research scholars' J-1 programs = maximum stay of 5 years
- J-1 short-term scholars' programs = maximum stay of 6 months.
- J-1 student interns' programs = maximum stay of 12 months
If you need an extension of your J-1 program in order to continue your J-1 activities (within the maximum time period for your category), it is your responsibility to request an extension before your DS-2019 expiration date.
In order to request an extension, you should complete the extension request paperwork with your sponsoring authority to process the extension. In addition to the required paperwork, you will need to show the following:
- Proof of continued health insurance
- Proof of funding
Amendments to the J-1 Program
If anything changes in your J-1 program, such as your funding, your job duties, your title, or your department, you should inform your scholar advisor in IPO of the change before it takes place.
Your advisor will determine if such a change is possible and will issue a new DS-2019 for you if necessary.