J-1 Status Requirements
Maintaining J-1 Visa Status requirements is an essential part of a UF Exchange Program. Exchange Student Services (ESS) also acts as visa status services for Exchange Students. It is ultimately an exchange student’s responsibility to maintain their J-1 nonimmigrant status. But Exchange Student Services is available for any consultations throughout the exchange program. This section will cover:
- J-1 Visa Status Period
- J-1 Non-Degree Student Status Core Requirements
- Maintaining Important Documents
- Employment/Internships/Volunteering While Maintaining J-1 Visa Status
- Travel While Maintaining J-1 Visa Status
An Exchange Student’s program period is considered to last from the Start Date to the End Date on an Exchange Student’s DS-2019 Form. For Exchange Students, this typically reflects the semester term dates.
Arrival Period: The US Department of Homeland Security allows J-1 Visa Holders to enter the US up to 30 days before the start date on their DS-2019 Form.
Grace Period: J-1 Visa Holders have a 30 day grace period after the end date on their DS-2019 Form. The Grace Period is a benefit of the J-1 status to allow J-1 visa holders time after their status to remain in the US.
Grace Period time can be used:
- To travel domestically (within the United States)
- Make travel arrangements
- Gather belongings/Pack/Move-Out of housing
The grace period is not considered part of the program time, so J-1 Visa Holders are not permitted to work or take classes during this time.
If J-1 Visa Holders exit the US during the Grace Period, they are not able to re-enter the US using their J-1 Visa Status to use the remaining duration of the 30 day period. If traveling internationally during the grace period (for example, to Canada, Mexico, Carribean Islands, etc.) Exchange Students must plan to return home directly from their international destination or use an alternate US visa status (like B1/B2 Tourist status, or ESTA equivalent) to re-enter the US and depart.
Visa Validity: A J-1 Visa is issued for entry into the US by Consular Officers. Visa validity is typically granted for the period between the start and end-date on the DS-2019 Form. Visas may be granted for multiple entries into the US or single-entry into the US depending on the discretion of the Consular Officer.
Full-time enrollment: Exchange Students must be enrolled as full-time students for their entire exchange program. Full-time is defined as:
- Undergraduate Students: 12 UF credit hours per semester
- Graduate Students: 9 UF credit hours per semester
Online Courses: Online course enrollment is limited for J-1 Status Holders. J-1 Status Holders can be enrolled in one online course of their full-time enrollment.
Dropping Courses: Exchange Students should consult with their J-1 Status Advisor before dropping any courses to ensure they continue to meet full-time requirements
Address Reporting: It is required for students’ US home address to be accurate in each student’s SEVIS record. Upon arrival and move-in Exchange Students must update their address information in the ISSS Platform and in One.UF within 10 days after the start of the semester. If Exchange Students change their residence at any point during their exchange program, they must repeat this process within 10 days of changing residences.
Valid Health Insurance
All J-1 Status Holders are required to have Health Insurance for the duration of their exchange program. Since UF students are similarly required to have health insurance, Exchange Student requirements follow UF standards for all students. This requirement is overseen by the UF Health Compliance Office.
- Requirement Overview: The Health Insurance requirement is an opt-out system. All UF Students will be automatically enrolled in the UF Health Insurance Plan. Students have the option of submitting a waiver to verify they have alternative health insurance that meets the outlined requirements by the waiver deadline. Requirements reflect Affordable Care Act (ACA) minimum coverage. If online waivers are not submitted prior to the waiver deadline, Exchange Students are responsible for health insurance charges.
- Insurance Advisor: The UF International Center has an in-house Insurance Specialist available for advising international students at firstname.lastname@example.org or by walk-in to the International Center.
Original documents should be maintained and kept safely. It is recommended to keep a copy of one’s passport, I-94 record, and DS-2019 Form in case the originals get lost or stolen.
Passport: J-1 Visa Status Holders must have a valid, unexpired passport for the duration of their Exchange Program.
I-94 record: J-1 Visa Holders are required to be screened by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when entering the US. The CBP Agent will review the purpose of an individual’s visit and admit eligible J-1 Visa Holders into the US at the airport. CBP creates an online I-94 record with details about the entry, including the duration an individual is admitted into the US. The I-94 record is accessible online at: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/
J-1 Visa Holders should review their I-94 record to ensure accuracy and print a copy for their records. This will also be required during check-in at the International Center.
DS-2019 Form: The DS-2019 Form is the form of eligibility for J-1 Status. For exchange students, the DS-2019 Form verifies the duration of an exchange program and that the purpose of the exchange program is academic studies.
Employment: Exchange students are eligible to apply for work authorization during their exchange program. Employment Authorization is limited to the following:
- On-Campus Employment
- Part-Time Employment: Defined as up to 20 hours per week
- Employment must be pre-authorized, meaning exchange students cannot begin employment activities until ESS provides authorization.
Academic Training: Academic Training is a benefit available for J-1 Students to get practical experience related to their degree of study.
- Type of Activity: Academic Training may be employment, training, internships, research, or similar experience directly related to a J1 student's field of study.
- Duration: Academic training during the exchange program period or after a student has completed their semester. Academic Training cannot exceed the time spent engaged in coursework. (Example, if participating in a one-semester exchange program, an Exchange Student is eligible for a maximum of one semester of Academic Training authorization).
- Academic Training activities must be authorized prior to beginning any activities.
For additional information about requirements, initiate the request for Academic Training authorization below:
Domestic Travel: Exchange Students may travel domestically throughout the duration of their exchange program. No prior approval is required.
International Travel & Reentry
If traveling internationally during an exchange program, J-1 Visa Holders must obtain a travel signature on their DS-2019 Form from ESS. Travel signatures help facilitate re-entry into the US. To request a travel signature, make an appointment with your ESS advisor. Exchange Students should bring a photo ID and their original DS-2019 Form for any travel signature appointment. ESS does not advise on entry requirements for a given international destination, but is available to discuss re-entry into the US.
As mentioned above, J-1 Visa holders can travel domestically during the grace period. If J-1 Visa Holders exit the US during the Grace Period, they are not able to re-enter the US using their J-1 Visa Status to use the remaining duration of the 30 day period. If traveling internationally during the grace period (for example, to Canada, Mexico, Carribean Islands, etc.) Exchange Students must plan to return home directly from their international destination or use an alternate US visa status (like B1/B2 Tourist status, or ESTA equivalent) to re-enter the US and depart.