J-1 Visa FAQs


Q: Can I study on a J-1 visa?

Yes, but only if it is authorized by the exchange program in which the J-1 visa holder is participating.

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Q: As a J-1 student, am I eligible to work upon completion of my studies?

A J-1 student may be eligible to participate in a Practical Training Program upon graduation. The Practical Training Program allows the individual to work in the United States. However, the length of time granted for the training program generally depends on the degree awarded. Individuals who have received a baccalaureate or master's degree, may be entitled to enter a training program of up to eighteen (18) months whereas a higher degree may result in a greater period of training participation.

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Q: I am a J-1 student and my visa's validity period is going to expire before the completion of my program. What should I do?

If you are in the U.S., you do not have to do anything, as long as your Form DS-2019 remains valid. However, once you depart the U.S., before returning to the U.S., you must visit your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to obtain a new J-1 visa stamping. You just need to bring your Form DS-2019 (unexpired) with you to your visa interview.

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Q: I am unable to complete my academic program within the time period specified on my DS-2019 form? What needs to be done in this situation?

If a student is unable to complete the academic program as per the end date on the DS-2019 form ((Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status)), he/she must apply for an extension of status prior to the expiration date. The student must provide supporting letter from the school or Dean that specifies the reason for extension, extension period desired, the proposed date of graduation, and evidence of funds available for the requested time period. Students who are out of status are required to return immediately to their home country.

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Q: Can I travel outside the U.S. for vacation and re-enter and continue my J-1 status?

J-1 students can travel overseas and return to the U.S. as long as they have documents that prove that they are returning to the U.S. to complete their academic program. Students must travel with a valid DS-2019 form (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status), a valid visa and passport. Students maintain a valid J-1 status as long as the date on the DS-2019 form has not expired. If the visa has expired, students may contact the nearest U.S. consulate and obtain a visa stamping as long they have a valid DS-2019 form.

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Q: I am on J-1 visa. Can I marry a U.S. citizen and acquire permanent residency?

J visa holders who are subject to the two year home residency requirement cannot change status to another category or apply for a green card until they either a) return to their home country for two years or b) obtain a waiver of this requirement.

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Q: My spouse has joined me in the United States in J-2 status. Is she eligible to work?

Yes. A J-2 visa holder is permitted to work only after he/she applies for and obtains work authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

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Q: I am on J-1 visa and my spouse is on J-2. Can she work? And if so do we file taxes jointly or separately?

J-2 visa holders are eligible to work upon application to and approval by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In addition, it is important to note that the J-2 spouse’s income must not be utilized to support the principal alien (i.e., J-1 visa holder). However, the couple may file taxes jointly or separately, depending on their preference.

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Q: I am on J-1 and my spouse is on J-2 and we both are employed. When my employment ends does she have to leave the country with me or can she continue to be employed?

The J-2 visa holder is linked to the J-1 visa holder and therefore the J-2 spouse will need to leave the country unless he or she is able to convert to an independent visa status.

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Q: How can a J-1 nonimmigrant subject to the two (2) year foreign residence requirement change to another nonimmigrant status?

In order for a J-1 status holder to file for change of status to another type of non-immigrant status, one must either fulfill the 2-year foreign residence requirement, or seek a waiver of this requirement from his/her home country or via the U.S. Department of State, depending on who the original sponsor is.

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