J-1 Status

Exchange visitors are admitted to the U.S. 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 U.S. 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.

Limitation of Stay

  • Students: No specific limitation, as long as they continuously pursue a full course of study towards their degree; non-degree students can stay for up to 24 months
  • Professors and Research Scholars: A maximum of five years
  • Short-Term Scholars: Six months
Phone: 508-831-6030
Fax: 508-831-6032

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 your 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 U.S. and re-entering with a new DS-2019 form, or by transferring programs in the U.S. 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 U.S., 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 for 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 DS-2019 form. They will get J-2 visas. Your spouse can work only if the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (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 $100,000 per person per accident or illness
  • $25,000 for repatriation
  • $50,000 for medical evacuation
  • $500 deductible per accident or illness 

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

Receiving an I-94 Arrival/Departure Card

For questions about receiving an I-94 arrival/departure card or the duration of your status, visit Immigration Information & Resources.