Know your basic documents.
International Student and Scholars Services (ISSS) makes every attempt to educate you about the laws and regulations affecting your immigration status, but maintaining legal status is your responsibility. Listed below are guidelines that J-1 exchange visitors should follow to ensure that their J-1 status remains valid while in the U.S. or traveling.
o Passport: Keep it valid at all times for at least six months into the future. Do not seek to re-enter the US with a passport that is valid for less than 6 months.
o Valid DS-2019: Be aware of the expiration date of your DS-2019. Request an extension of stay 30 days before the expiration date if you will not complete your program by the date.
o Visa: Your visa may expire while you are in the U.S. It is not necessary that it remain valid while you are in the U.S. and it is not possible to renew it inside the U.S. Should you travel outside the U.S. with an expired visa, you will need to renew it at a U.S. Consulate before returning to the United States.
o I-94: This card is your permission to be inside the U.S. Should you leave the U.S., you must submit it to the airline and receive a new one upon re-entry; you will need to provide a copy of the new one to the ISSS office upon arrival.
o Travel Endorsement: Do not travel outside the United States unless an immigration advisor signs your DS-2019 for travel; a travel signature is valid for one year.
Report address changes to the Office of International Programs within 10 days.
U.S. federal regulations require all J-1 scholars to report their initial U.S. address and any subsequent change of address during their program to the ISSS office within 10 days of the move.
Abide by employment regulations.
J-1 scholars and students are permitted to engage only in activities at SIUE and may not conduct research, teach, give a lecture or consult outside the SIUE campus unless specifically authorized in advance by ISSS. If invited to speak or consult at another institution, scholars must contact the immigration advisor and submit request forms at least two weeks before the activity. Authorization will be given only if all requirements are met.
Maintain adequate health insurance at all times.
You and all accompanying J-2 departments are required to maintain health insurance that provides benefits for the entire duration of your stay in the U.S., with the following minimum coverage amounts:
Any lapse in coverage requires the termination of the scholar’s immigration status and that of any dependents.
Obtain travel signature before leaving the U.S. if you plan to return.
Scholars and Students must obtain their international advisor’s signature on their DS-2019 form before traveling outside the U.S. Do not leave the U.S. without a travel signature. Travel signatures are available only at the ISSS office.
Report changes in program to ISSS.
Scholars and students must notify their international advisor whenever there is a change in their program or program dates. Scholars may not change categories.
Obtain authorization for an absence from the U.S. of greater than 30 days.
In order to maintain continuous J status while outside the U.S., the absence from the U.S. must be “brief, casual, and innocent” and must not constitute a break in activities. “Brief, casual, and innocent” absences do not beak continuity. Generally, absences of 30 days or less and for short-term activities such as attending a conference, consulting with colleagues, taking vacation or holiday, or attending to personal business do not break continuity. Any absence greater than 30 days may result in termination of your immigration status.
Apply for an extension of program before the DS-2019 expiration date.
J-1 scholars and students must apply for an extension before their DS-2019 form expires if they intend to stay at SIUE. The Short-term Scholar category has a maximum stay of 6 months, and the Research Scholar/Professor categories currently have a maximum stay of five years. A person in the Research Scholar or Professor category is subject to a 24-month bar upon completion of the program. This should be requested 30 days in advance. No extensions are permitted during the 30-day grace period.
Be Aware of the Two-Year Home Country Resident Requirement.
Many exchange visitors are subject to what is known as the two-year home country residence requirement because of their J-1 status. This means that upon completion of the J-1 program in the U.S., the J-1 must return to his/her home country for at least 2 years before he/she is eligible to change to an H-1B or apply for permanent residence. J-1’s can be subject to this requirement for 3 reasons:
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) in Washington, D.C., makes all final determinations regarding the two-year home residence requirement. It is sometimes possible to obtain a waiver of this requirement so that the exchange visitor does not have to spend the 2 years in his or her home country. It is the responsibility of the J-1 exchange visitor to apply for his or her own waiver. The DOS website discusses the waiver process. Visit http://travel.state.gov/ for more information about waivers and for the data sheet required to begin the waiver process.
Be aware of the 24- and 12-Month Bar On Repeat Participation
24-Month Bar — Any person who participates in an Exchange Visitor program in the Professor or Research Scholar categories on or after 11/18/06 is subject to a 24-month bar on “repeat participation” in those categories. Scholars subject to the bar may not return to the U.S. as a J-1 scholar in the Professor or Research Scholar categories for the 24-month period. The 24-month bar will be in effect regardless of whether status in the program is a few months in duration or the full five years allowed. Whenever an exchange program ends and the SEVIS record become “inactive,” the five-year window is “closed” and the person must wait 24 months before beginning a new program as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar. However, you may be able to return in a different J-1 category or with a different type of visa. The 24-month bar does not require exchange visitors to remain in the home country for two years and it does not prevent them from returning to the U.S. in another J-1 category (e.g short term scholar, student) or eligible immigration status (e.g. H-1B visa, permanent resident). There are no waivers for the 24-month bar. When the 24-month bar is placed on the principle J-1 visa holder, the J-2 dependent(s) also become subject to the participation bar.
12-Month Bar — Time spent in the United States in any J status (including J-2) during the 12-month period preceding the prospective professor or research scholar’s program begin date will affect the alien’s eligibility for participation as a Professor or Research Scholar. No time spent in other visa classifications is relevant. There are three exceptions to those in a previous J status:
To summarize the bars:
J-1 transfer and J-1 Short-Term Scholar participation will not trigger either the 12-month or the 24-month bar.
For the 12-month bar, time spent physically present in any J status is the trigger: if presence is less than 6 months duration, the 12-month bar does not apply.
For the 24-month bar, completing the program as a Professor or Research Scholar is the trigger, regardless of whether the program is completed in less than six months or more than six months.
Neither the 24-month nor the 12-month bars have “home-residence” requirements. They also do not require the person to be out of the United States. They require only that the person not be in the J Professor or Research Scholar category for either the 12-month or 24-month bar (whichever applies).
Steps to take when you complete your program.
When the foreign national has completed his/her J-1 program or if he/she decides to depart earlier than planned, it is critical that ISSS be informed. When the foreign national leaves his/her SEVIS records will become inactive. As a result, the foreign national will not be authorized to continue the J-1 program with SIUE, nor will he/she be authorized to transfer to another J-1 program.
You must receive transfer authorization before transferring to another U.S. institution.
Scholars and students must leave the U.S. within 30 days of DS-2019 expiration date or program end date, whichever is earlier, unless they have applied for a change of status with the USCIS. No extensions or transfers may be granted during the 30-day grace period. If you do not complete your program or leave more than 30 days before the program end date, you do not have a 30-day grace period. You are required to leave the country immediately (usually within 10 days).
You are responsible for complying with Exchange Program regulations.
It is your responsibility to comply with all J-1 program and immigration regulations and to maintain lawful immigration status in the U.S. Failure to maintain legal immigration status in the United States will nullify your visa and your permission to remain in the country. Remaining in the United States beyond your date of authorized stay (plus grace period, if applicable) could subject you to a bar from re-entering the U.S. for up to 10 years. In addition, violating the terms and conditions of your immigration status might prevent you from obtaining a visa to enter the U.S. at any U.S. Consulate other than the one in your home country.
Contact International Student & Scholar Services for more information about the Exchange Visitor Program.
We are here to support and guide you through the complex maze of U.S. immigration laws, and we are available to answer any questions you might have. We prefer email so that we may understand your issues and so that you may have a written response from our office. Do not seek immigration advice from your supervisor or other scholars. Regulations change frequently, and it is our job to keep updated on them.