J-1 Status

Exchange visitors are admitted to the United States in J-1 status to engage in one of a number of possible activities. The following information pertains to J-1 Students, J-1 Research Scholars and J-1 Professors only. The United States Department of State administers the overall Exchange Visitor Program by designating sponsors to administer individual exchange visitor programs. The international student advisor, who serves as the Designated Responsible Officer for the WPI Exchange Visitor Program, administers the WPI J-1 program.

Receiving an I-94 Arrvial/Departure Card

For those of you who have traveled to the US in the past, you may be familiar with the small white cards you filled out in duplicate on the airplane before landing. This card, called an I-94 arrival/departure record, would then be turned in at the US immigration desk at the airport and stamped by a Customs and Border Protection official before being stapled into your passport. The card proved your legal entry and status in the US.

As of May 2013, CBP have moved to an automated I-94 system, meaning the I-94 cards are now electronic. Now when you enter the US the CBP officer will stamp your travel document (passport) at your port of entry. The stamp will show your date of admission, class of admission (F-1, J-1, etc), and the date that you are admitted until (for students this is "D/S" duration of status, see below). In order to access your electronic I-94 you must log in to the Customs and Border Protection's website and answer several travel oriented questions (name, birth date, passport number, passport country, most recent date of entry, and class of admission). We recommend that you do this shortly after entering the US and print a copy for your records. A printed paper version of your I-94 card is still necessary for certain processes, such as applying for a Social Security Number (SSN).

To access your electronic I-94 visit CBP's website HERE.

Duration of Status

As noted above, the Port of Entry Stamp (in your passport) should have a "D/S" written on it. Duration of status is defined as the period of time necessary to complete a full course of study in any educational program plus any authorized period of practical training following completion of that program plus 60 days in which to depart the United States. The term "duration of status" is not an indication that you can stay in the United States indefinitely as long as you are enrolled at a university.

Limitation of Stay


No specific limitation for degree seeking students as long as they continuously pursue a full course of study towards their degree. For non-degree students up to 24 months.

Professors and Research Scholars

A maximum of 5 years.

Short-term Scholars

6 months.

Extension of Stay

As an exchange visitor, you may apply for an extension of stay two-to-four weeks prior to the expiration date (obtained from you DS-2019) of your stay.


Exchange visitors may transfer from one sponsor to another only if the first sponsor releases them. You can change your J-1 sponsorship either by leaving the United States and re-entering with a new DS-2019 form, or by transferring programs in the United States by notification with approval from your current sponsor and SEVIS notification.


Employment is permitted for students only if it is an integral part of the program for which you came to the United States and if it is in your field of study and will not unduly delay your degree (such as a part-time research assistantship). To obtain permission for this kind of employment, you must consult the program sponsor. For professors and research scholars, employment is allowed to the extent it is part of the original appointment.

Academic Training for J-1 Student Visa Holders

An exchange visitor student (J-1 visa) may be authorized for a period of up to 18 months academic training directly related to his/her program of study while enrolled or after completion of the academic program (three years for post doctoral academic training). However, the academic training cannot exceed the time enrolled in course work. The program sponsor can only authorize such a period of academic training for students on J-1 visas.


Your spouse and/or children may accompany you on the basis of their own form DS-2019. They will get J-2 visas. Your spouse can work only if the USCIS approves his/her application for work authorization.

Two-year Home-country Physical Presence Requirement

Certain J-1 Exchange Visitors must return home for at least two years after completing their program. This requirement applies to Exchange Visitors whose program has been financed to some extent by the U.S. Government or by their home country or to Exchange Visitors whose skills are needed by their home country. For details on the two-year rule and grounds for waivers, you should contact the International House staff.

Insurance Requirement for Exchange Visitors (J-1/J-2)

Exchange visitors are required to have medical insurance in effect for themselves and any accompanying spouse and dependents on J-2 visa.

The minimum coverage, which your health and accident insurance must provide:

  • at least $50,000 per person per accident or illness
  • up to $7,500 for repatriation
  • up to $10,000 for medical evacuation

Exchange Visitors must maintain the required insurance during the duration of their J-1 status.

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