Immigration Info for J-1 Students
value in the nation among public colleges & universities (Consumers Digest 2015)
Immigration Info for J-1 Students
Maintaining Legal Status
It is your responsibility to maintain your legal status as a J-1 student. Your legal J-1 status was conferred upon you at the time of your entry to the United States. You presented your DS-2019 and your J-1 visa to the USCIS at the port of entry. The USCIS officer stamped your DS-2019 and returned it to you and stamped an I-94 card and gave it to you. By signing the DS-2019 and entering into the United States, you agreed to uphold the laws and regulations governing J-1 students in the United States. These laws state that you must do the following at all times to maintain your legal status:
- Attend the school that issued your DS-2019.
- Report to the Responsible Officer (Center for International Students) for Initial Registration in SEVIS upon arriving at the school.
- Maintain full-time student status. To be considered a J-1 student in legal status, you must be enrolled full-time every fall and spring semester, except during the last semester of your degree. During the last semester before you earn your degree, you may take less than a full course of study if that is all you need to graduate.
- Full time undergraduate = 12 credit hours minimum per semester
- Full time graduate = 9 credit hours minimum per semester
- Make normal progress toward your degree by completing studies before the date of completion on your DS-2019. If you are unable to finish all degree requirements by the completion date on your DS-2019, you must apply for a PROGRAM EXTENSION at the Center for International Students at least 30 days before the DS-2019 expires.
- Report a change of address to the Responsible Official within 10 days of the change so SEVIS can be updated.
- DO NOT WORK ILLEGALLY!! You may not work off-campus without the permission of the Responsible Officer (R.O.) You may work on campus from the first day of school.
- Have health insurance at all times which meets the required standards.
It is very important that you maintain legal status while you are studying in the United States. You are responsible for the maintenance of your passport and should make sure that your passport and your dependents' passports are valid at all times. To extend your passport, you will need to contact your own embassy. Be sure to contact your embassy at least 6 months prior to the expiration date of the passport so that you will have time to process the extension. Visit http://www.embassy.org/ for contact information on your embassy.
I-94 Departure/Arrival Card & Form DS-2019
When you arrived in the United States, a USCIS Officer gave you an I-94 card, which you should keep in your passport with your DS-2019. These documents are your proof of J-1 status, and you will need them for such purposes as applying for work permits, banking, extending your permission to stay in the United States and reentry to this country. You should keep copy of all previous DS-2019s permanently.
Note: It is also advisable, after your arrival, to photocopy the identification pages of your passport, your visa stamp, I-94 Departure/Arrival card, and your DS-2019 and keep them separately from the originals. These are used when applying for replacements, should the originals ever be lost or stolen. The Center for International Students (CIS) at Truman State University requires that all J-1 students check in at the CIS promptly on arrival so we can photocopy these documents for our files.
J-1 students may participate in Academic Training programs during or after completion of their studies. Academic Training can be authorized for a period up to the time spent in the course of study but may not exceed 18 months. If you are attending Center for International Students on a DS-2019 from another sponsoring organization, such as ISEP, you must follow the rules of that organization as they pertain to Academic Training.
How long can I participate in Academic Training?
- J-1 Exchange student attending Truman for one semester: Maximum of 18 weeks
- J-1 Exchange student attending Truman for two semesters: Maximum of 36 weeks
- J-1 student seeking a degree at Truman: Maximum of 18 months
- You must be in the United States primarily to study rather than engage in academic training.
- You must be pursuing a full course of study.
- You must be in good academic standing.
- You must obtain a written job offer.
- You must have a valid DS-2019 at all times during the Academic Training. If a new DS-2019 must be issued to cover the dates of academic training, the student must apply and receive a new DS-2019 before the old one expires.
- You must maintain health insurance coverage.
Note: Academic Training is for J-1 STUDENTS only. Professors, research scholars, and specialists on J-1 status are not eligible for Academic Training.
- Academic Training must be directly related to the student's major field of study.
- Academic Training must be described in a written offer of employment that is submitted to the Center for International Students no later than 30 days after the student has completed studies.
- You must have written approval within 30 days after the completion of studies date.
- You must have written approval in advance before starting the position.
- You must keep Truman State University informed of a current address at all times during academic training, as you are under the official supervision of Truman.
Note: Academic Training must be approved within 30 days of the end of the semester, BUT it does not have to begin by that date. The job may begin up to the end of the next semester.
When to Apply
Students must obtain written approval from the Center for International Students before starting any Academic Training. For Academic Training, students must secure a written offer of employment for Academic Training and must apply to the Center for International Students no later than 30 days after completion of studies.
You must complete the J-1 Academic Training Application Packet (available at the Center for International Students) which includes the following:
- A job offer letter stating job title, duties, pay, dates of employment, location of employment, number of hours per week, and the name, address, and phone number of the supervisor.
- Release of Work Permit Information to SEVIS Database.
Upon receiving the Academic Training Application, the J-1 Responsible Officer will determine if the proposed Academic Training relates to the student's major and meets all criteria for Academic Training. If approved, the Responsible Officer will then issue a new DS-2019 with Academic Training notation and training approval. This is used as your legal work permit.
Finding an Internship for Academic Training
Before you arrive in the United States
- Contact friends and relatives who work in the United States.
- Contact friends and relatives who work for a United States firm in your country
- Contact businesses in your country with branches or affiliates in the United States.
- Ask school officials for alumni contacts in the United States.
- Ask school officials for a list of companies where previous students have interned
- Inform all of the above of your plans to study in the United States and your need for an internship
After arriving in the United States
- Begin seeking an internship immediately
- Go to the Truman Career Center for help
- Write a United States style resume
- Write a United States style cover letter
- Attend a mock interview at the University Career Center
- Attend the Career Expo at the University
- Contact all the alumni, prior internship sites, relatives and friends in the United States that you contacted before leaving your country to inform them of your current situation
- Meet with the International Student Advisor to learn the requirements for Academic Training and the limits of your visa
Extension of Stay
You must always maintain a valid DS-2019 during your stay in the United States as a J-1 student. To do so, the expiration date on your DS-2019 must always be in the future. If for some valid academic reason, you wish to extend your exchange program, you must apply for an Extension of Stay. An Extension of Stay must be requested prior to the expiration of your DS-2019.
Valid reasons to extend your exchange program include:
- Permission of a Truman Exchange Partner (your school) in writing
- Permission of the Director of the Truman Center for International Education Abroad
- Academic Training
To request an Extension of Stay, you must provide the following to the International Student Advisor:
- DS-2019 Request Form (Available at the Center for International Students)
- Written permission from your school
- Written permission from the Director of the Truman Center for International Education Abroad
The Center for International Students will process your request and you should return in 3-5 days to pick up a new DS-2019.
Extension of your permission to stay in the United States is your responsibility. If your DS-2019 expires, you will be out of status. If you are employed and overlook the date, you will be working illegally. Since such mistakes can have serious consequences, you should make certain that you apply in advance (at least one month) if you need to extend your stay. ALSO, you are responsible for making sure that your passport and your dependents' passports are valid at all times.
Note: If you are seeking an extension beyond the maximum duration of participation, you need to follow a different procedure. Maximum duration of participation for a J-1, non-degree seeking University student is two years. Maximum duration of participation for a J-1 degree-seeking University student is the normal time required to complete the degree.
Extension Beyond the Maximum Duration of Participation
You must have maintained legal J-1 status during your program of study.
- Personal check, cashier's check, or money order in the amount of $198 made payable to "U.S. Department of State"
- Documentation supporting the extension request. This should include unforeseen circumstances surrounding your extension request and also compelling reasons.
- A cover letter signed by the International Student Advisor
If the extension is approved, the International Student Advisor will update SEVIS, print out and sign a new DS-2019. DS-2019 will be given to the exchange visitor, who should sign it as indicated. This process is rather lengthy, so it is very important to request an extension of stay well in advance of your program completion date.
Visit the Center for International Students for more information!
J-1 students sponsored by Truman may be eligible to engage in off campus employment due to unforeseen severe economic hardship. The financial need must have come about after the student's program began and must be thoroughly documented. J-1 students issued a DS-2019 by another agency must check with their sponsor for employment eligibility.
You must be currently enrolled full-time, in good academic standing and have legal J-1 status. Students on an exchange program will seldom be granted this type of employment. It is only in the case of an extreme drastic change in the student's financial circumstances (such as the death of a sponsor or a sudden political or economic upheaval in the student's home country) that the student will be considered eligible for this type of employment authorization. J-1 students studying in a long-term program at Truman may be eligible depending on their source of funding. Students fully funded by the University who lose their entire sponsorship may not be eligible for this type of employment because a part time job would not be sufficient to pay all educational expenses. Partially funded students may be eligible for this type of employment, if they lose their other source of funding due to the following possible circumstances:
- Loss of a scholarship
- Death or severe illness of the sponsor
- Bankruptcy or other financial disaster of the sponsor
- Unexpected retirement or illness of the sponsor
- Student's excessive medical bills
- Substantial devaluation of the currency in the student's home country
- Political or economic upheaval in the student's home country
To demonstrate these circumstances the application could include:
- Letter documenting the loss of a scholarship
- Personal letters from the student's sponsor describing the situation
- Death certificate
- Documents from the student's medical doctor
- Copies of magazine or newspaper articles which show changing circumstances in a student's home country, including currency fluctuations
- Copies of a student's excessive medical bills
Note: All students are welcome to make an appointment with the International Student Advisor to discuss their particular situation and to see if it qualifies for off-campus work permission.
Note: You may work a maximum of twenty hours per week. If you work on campus for ten hours a week, you are only allowed an additional ten hours off campus per week.
"I found it very relaxing to get away from the hustle and bustle of a big city and get the chance to enjoy all of the aspects of a smaller town. This town is a wonderful place to enhance your college experience."
– Bethany Williams (’13), Communication Major