J-1 Students: How to Maintain Status

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New Students MUST Check in at the OISS!

Newly Arriving International Students MUST check in to the OISS no later than 30 days after the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019. If you do not check in at the OISS, you may lose your valid immigration status in the U.S.

To check in, come to the OISS at Room 119 Blackburn Bldg and bring photocopies of:

  • your passport,
  • I-94 card and
  • I-20 or DS-2019.

How to Maintain Your J-1 Immigration Status in the U.S.

PLEASE NOTE: This information is primarily for J-1 students for whom the sponsoring agency is Howard University (holding a Howard DS-2019). If your DS-2019 was produced by another agency, you should be contacting that agency for immigration advice. If you are not currently in J student status but are considering changing to J student status.

To maintain your legal status in the United States as a J-1 student, you must remember these important requirements:

  1. Report to the OISS within 30 days of the DS-2019 start date
  2. Always enroll FULL-TIME during the academic year
  3. Update your local address within 10 days of moving
  4. Maintain the health insurance required for J-1 exchange visitors
  5. Keep your immigration documents VALID and CURRENT:
    - Apply for an EXTENSION at the OISS BEFORE the end date in Item 3 of your DS-2019
    - If you plan to transfer to another school, come in to the OISS to discuss the immigration status transfer.

  6. NEVER work off-campus without PRIOR authorization
  7. Notify the OISS when you leave the U.S. permanently or when you change your visa status.
  8. If you TRAVEL outside the United States, be SURE to have the proper re-entry documents

1. Report to the OISS Within 30 days of the DS-2019 Start Date
It is REQUIRED BY LAW that you come to the International Students and Scholars Office within the start date of your DS-2019 whether it is your first time in the U.S. or if you are transferring from another U.S. institution. The start date is listed in Item 3 of your DS-2019.

2. Always Enroll Full Time
J-1 students must maintain full-time student status each semester until they receive their degrees. For undergraduate students, full-time means you must register and complete at least 12 credits each semester; as a graduate student, you must simply be registered. There are some rare exceptions to this regulation however, please talk to the OISS staff BEFORE you drop below full time enrollment or take a leave of absence.

3. Update your Local Address
The immigration regulations require you to update your local residential address within 10 days of moving within the U.S. You must do this by updating your local address in "Just the Facts" AND notifying the OISS. You are required to use a physical residential address and not a PO Box or a Howard department address. As of December 2, 2003, "Special Registrants" who are in J status may also update addresses directly with the OISS and no longer have to fill out the Form AR-11SR.

4. Maintain the Required Health Insurance
The U.S. immigration regulations require that all J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents maintain a specified level of health and accident insurance. The minimum levels are:

  • Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains expenses in the amount of $7500
  • Medical evacuation expenses in the amount of $10,000 All of the above are covered by the Howard student health insurance plan (you do have to add any J-2 dependents to the plan or cover them by an equivalent health insurance plan).

5. Keep your Immigration Documents VALID and CURRENT
You should make photocopies of your immigration documents and keep the copies and originals in a safe place. Photocopy:

  • the passport pages with your personal information and picture
  • the passport page containing the U.S. visa stamp
  • both sides of your I-94 Form
  • your DS-2019
  • a) Keep your passport valid
    You should keep your passport valid for at least six months in to the future while you are studying in the U.S. Consult your country's consulate or embassy in the U.S. to renew your passport. You can find the contact information for your consulate at: http://travel.state.gov.
  • b) J-1 Extension
    The end date of your immigration status is written on your DS-2019 as the end date in item #3 (not the end date of your visa stamp). If you are unable to complete your course of study by that time, you must apply for an extension BEFORE the DS-2019 end date. You must file your program extension with the OISS or your own sponsor at least two months before it expires. Pick up an J-1 Program Extension packet from the OISS to begin the process.
  • c) Discuss Transfer Plans with an OISS advisor
    If you plan to transfer to or from another school or sponsoring agency, the OISS and your sponsoring agency will need to complete the immigration transfer procedure. Permission to transfer is granted only if the transfer contributes to the realization of the exchange visitor's original purpose in coming to the U.S. Come in to the OISS to discuss the transfer process.

6. Never Work Off-campus Without Prior Authorization
Employment opportunities for international students in the U.S. are restricted by law. In general there are two types of employment: on-campus and off-campus employment.

  • On-campus Employment: Enrolled J-1 students holding a DS-2019 from Howard University are permitted to work on campus for 20 hours per week during academic year and 40 hours per week during summer and winter breaks. If your DS-2019 was produced by another agency, that agency must give you permission to work on the Howard campus.

  • Off-campus Employment: Off-campus employment is any type of work or services performed in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food or any other benefit that is not on the Howard campus. An authorization letter is required BEFORE any off-campus work is allowed. The authorization letter must be written by the institution or agency who produced your DS-2019 (Howard or another agency). See the staff in the OISS for advice and assistance.

    Off-campus employment options for J-1 Students:

    Academic Training
    J-1 students in degree program are permitted an overall limit of 18 months academic training within their field of study. For postdoctoral training the overall limit is 36 months.

    Economic Hardship
    If a J-1 student needs employment during the academic year due to financial hardship arising from unforeseen circumstances, the program sponsor may authorize it. Such employment cannot interfere with full-time pursuit of the exchange visitor's program objectives. Written permission from the program sponsor is required for on-campus as well as off-campus work.

7. Notify the OISS when you leave the U.S. or change visa status
When you finish your program and leave the U.S. permanently or change to another visa status (for instance if an employer plans to do an H1B visa application for you after you graduate), come to the OISS to notify us of your plans.