J-1 Visa Status Requirements

To maintain valid visa status, J-1 students are required to:

  • Arrive in the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the start date printed on the Form DS-2019.
  • Complete the entire mandatory check-in process within 30 days of arrival.
  • Maintain current, valid copies of all required documents at all times:
    • Form DS-2019
    • Passport
    • I-94 record
  • Maintain appropriate health insurance coverage for themselves and any J-2 dependents.
    • Coverage must be active for the entire J-1 program, even when outside the U.S.
  • Enroll as a full-time student at the U.S. institution listed on the Form DS-2019.
    • Students must make normal progress toward completing their academic program.
    • If necessary, they may seek a Reduced Course Load or Leave of Absence.
  • Refrain from any unauthorized employment.
    • Any employment activity must be approved, in writing, by EVS staff before it begins.
    • Volunteering may be considered employment for immigration purposes; consult with EVS staff before beginning any volunteer activity.
  • Submit timely extension requests to EVS, if necessary.

Students who do not comply with all J visa regulations will have their SEVIS record terminated. This ends the J-1 program, as well as the valid visa status of the J-1 students and any J-2 dependents.

Students whose SEVIS records are terminated must leave the U.S. immediately.

They cannot request an extension of stay or in-country change-of-status.

Enrollment Requirements

All J-1 students are required to be enrolled full time during their first semester at UF, and all subsequent fall and spring semesters.

The majority of credits must have a physical presence requirement, meaning the course is not 100% online and has some physical requirement as part of the curriculum. Students are allowed to take only one (1) fully online class per academic semester.

Additional enrollment requirements will depend on their academic program, assistantship requirements, graduation date, etc.

Minimum Full-Time Enrollment Requirements

Students must meet these minimum enrollment requirements during their first semester at UF, and all subsequent fall and spring semesters. Summer enrollment is optional.

NOTE: Students may enroll in one (1) fully online class per academic semester, regardless of the number of credits.





12 credits each semester

9 credits each semester

Summer C

12 credits (or 6 credits Summer A and B each)

6 credits (or 3 credits Summer A and B each)

Summer B

3 credits

3 credits (must be physical presence)

Exceptions to Enrollment Requirements

In their final/graduating semester at UF, students are automatically allowed to enroll for less than full-time status, as outlined below.

Additionally, students in master’s thesis or doctoral programs who have completed all required courses and need only research credits to complete their degree requirements may enroll in a minimum of research credits, as outlined below.

NOTE: Graduate students with assistantships must maintain any minimum registration requirements outlined by their contacts.

No special authorization is required for students who meet these requirements.

Final Semester



Graduate Business


1 credit

3 credits

2 credits


1 credit

3 credits

2 credits


1 credit

2 credits

1 credit

NOTE: Online credits cannot exceed physical presence courses.

Students with extenuating circumstances may request EVS authorization to drop below full-time enrollment.  Authorization must be obtained before dropping any courses, or the student may lose valid J status.

Acceptable Reasons for a Reduced Course Load (RCL)

Improper course level placement*

Initial difficulties with the English language*#

Initial difficulties with reading requirements*#

Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods*#

Medical (see below)

* Student must still be enrolled in at least 6 credit hours.

# Applicable only during the first semester in the U.S.

NOTE: Students may only be authorized for an academic/non-medical RCL once per degree level.

Medical Reduced Course Load

Students with temporary illnesses or medical conditions may request a reduced course load, or no course load, if necessary.

Students must provide a letter that:

  • Includes the student’s full name and date of birth;
  • Recommends the student take a reduced course load due to medical reasons;
  • Specifies the semester(s) affected by the recommendation;
  • Is signed by a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or clinical psychologist;
  • Is dated and printed on official letterhead.

NOTE: Students may be authorized for up to a total of 12 months of medical RCL per degree level.

Request to Drop Course

After the drop/add period, all international students have a hold placed on their record to prevent unauthorized course drops and accidental status violations.

If dropping a course will put a student below full-time enrollment, they must email their EVS advisor to request RCL authorization.

If dropping a course will not put a student below full-time enrollment, they do not need RCL authorization.

The student must contact their academic department to drop a course. Then, the department staff must notify the student’s EVS advisor.  Once EVS verifies the student will not violate their visa status, the international hold will be lifted and the drop request can be completed.

For departments that use the Student-Initiated Drop/ADD (SIDA) system through ONE.UF, EVS is automatically notified as part of the process.

Leave of Absence/Withdrawal

Students who need to withdraw any semesters must obtain authorization from their EVS advisor.

For more information or to begin this process, students must contact their EVS advisor.


Students who have fallen out of valid J status and had their SEVIS record terminated may be able to regain valid status. It is considered on a case-by-case basis.

Students must contact their EVS advisor immediately for help.