Immigration Information for J-1 Students

How to Maintain your Legal Status in the United States

To maintain your immigration status, you must be enrolled as a full-time student at the school you are authorized to attend. At St. Thomas, graduate students are required to register for a minimum of 6 credits during the fall and spring semesters. For undergraduates, 12 credits is the minimum for each fall and spring semester. Summer is an optional term except for new international students. New J-1 visa graduate students who begin their studies at St. Thomas in the summer must enroll in at least 3 credit hours to maintain their full-time student status. New J-1 visa undergraduate students who begin their studies in the summer must enroll in at least 6 credit hours.

J-1 students may engage in on-campus employment only after you receive permission from International Student Services. See the employment section for details about how to request on-campus employment permission.

J-1 students may engage in off-campus employment only after receiving Academic Training permission from International Student Services. See the employment section for details about how to request Academic Training authorization.

Penalty for Non-compliance with J-1 Regulations

Failure to comply with these regulations will result in the loss of your immigration status and will subject you to deportation.

Entry to the U.S.

A J-1 visa student may be admitted to the United States for duration of status (D/S) as indicated on the white I-94 card. This means that you are authorized to stay in the United States for the entire length of time listed on your DS-2019 plus a 30 day grace period. During the dates listed on your DS-2019, you must be enrolled as a full-time student in an education program or be authorized by ISS for Academic Training. While in the United States, you must maintain a valid foreign passport.

Arrival

U.S. immigration law permits all J-1 visa students and their J-2 dependents to enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the program start date listed on the DS-2019, but you may NOT enter the U.S. more than 30 days after the start date listed on your DS-2019. The program start and end dates are listed in item #3 of your DS-2019 immigration form.

Departure

When you leave the University, notify ISS in advance of your departure. The University must report both arrival and departure information to the U.S. government via the SEVIS system. J-1 visa holders and their J-2 dependents must depart the U.S. within 30 days of the program end date listed on the DS-2019.

When you leave the United States, you must surrender your Form I-94 Departure record. Please see the back side of Form I-94 for detailed instructions. You do note have to turn in the I-94 if you are visiting Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands other than Cuba for less than 30 days.

Extension of Stay

If a J-1 student cannot complete his/her educational program before the end date listed in item #3 on the DS-2019, he/she must apply for a DS-2019 extension before the end date listed on the DS-2019. An email or written letter from your Academic Advisor confirming that an extension of study is required to complete your program of study must be submitted to ISS. Click here to print a Program Extension Form.

In addition, students who need more than one semester of an extension must submit new bank/scholarship verification to ISS. See the current estimated expenses for your academic program so you can submit the correct bank/scholarship amount HERE.

ISS strongly encourages J-1 students to extend their DS-2019 at least 3 months before the end date listed on their DS-2019.

On-Campus Employment

To be eligible for any type of employment you must maintain continuous and lawful J-1 status. Students in J-1 visa status may request on-campus employment permission from ISS by downloading and completing the on-campus employment form. J-1 students must submit this completed form to ISS before on-campus employment may begin.

Click here for On-Campus Employment Form.

All students have the opportunity to seek employment on campus even if student employment is not awarded as part of the financial aid package. A wide variety of campus jobs are available to students who attend St. Thomas. For example, students may work as office support staff, food service employees, science lab assistants, residence hall desk attendants, and computer help desk staff. Student employment can be a wonderful experience and give valuable insights into various career areas and the American professional experience.

Income from a campus job can help students pay for educational and personal expenses. Student pay rates vary depending on the job responsibilities, but start at $7.00/hour. Students can receive paychecks or have their earnings applied toward the tuition bill. Earnings from student employment are taxable income, but are not subject to the FICA tax, as long as the student is enrolled on a half-time basis or more.

Please be aware that student employment is not guaranteed. Students must obtain their own positions on campus. Available positions are posted on the Jobs at UST website. Most positions are posted at the beginning of each semester.

On-campus employment is limited to 20 hours per week during fall and spring semesters. During school vacations, students may work full-time (up to 40 hours per week). School vacations include: Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break, January Term, Spring Break, and summer vacation.

Off-Campus Employment

J-1 students may be authorized for Academic Training in order to participate in off-campus employment related to their field of study.

Eligibility and Application Procedures:

  • To be eligible for any type of off-campus employment you must maintain continuous and lawful J-1 status.
  • You can only be authorized to work off-campus by completing the Academic Training form.
  • Click here for Academic Training Form.
  • You may not work off-campus without authorization.

NOTE: It is not sufficient for your professor or academic advisor to tell you that you can work; that is only first step in the process and does not constitute employment authorization.

Summer J-1 Student Employment Policy

Only UST students are eligible for summer student employment positions. Students eligible for summer student employment positions include:

  • current UST students
  • students graduating with Academic Training work authorization hired for UST staff positions directly related to their degree program. 
  • continuing another degree program at St. Thomas (new DS-2019 issued)
  • incoming students (eligible to work 30 days prior to DS-2019 start date)

Health Insurance Requirement

U.S. Immigration law requires all J-1 students and their J-2 dependents to have health/medical insurance at all times while participating in the J-1 exchange program; this includes the 30 days before and after the J-1 program. J-1 students will automatically be enrolled in and charged for the St. Thomas sponsored health insurance plan when they register for classes. J-1 students on a DS-2019 from the University of St. Thomas will not be allowed to waive this insurance plan. See details about this insurance plan HERE.

Transfer Out

A J-1 visa student who is degree-seeking is permitted to transfer to a different school provided the transfer procedure is followed. To transfer schools, you should first be admitted to the new school and you must complete new school’s transfer form as well as the ISS transfer out form. Your transfer will be effective on the “SEVIS release date” that you select to have your J-1 SEVIS record transferred from St. Thomas to the new institution.

Note: When choosing your SEVIS release date, make sure you take into account your on-campus job and Academic Training time. On your release date, you will not be able to work on the UST campus nor will you be able to participate in any Academic Training authorized by UST.

212(e) Two Year Home Country Rule:

Some J-1 and J-2 visa holders might be subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement (also known as the 212(e) rule). J-1 visa holders with funding from their home government or the U.S. government will be subject to the 212(e) rule. Individuals with expertise listed on the skills list might be subject to the 212(e) rule. See the skills list online HERE.

The 212(e) rule prevents an individual from changing their visa status within the U.S. and requires this individual to live in their home country for 2 years before they are eligible for this type of immigration benefit. Individuals subject to the 212(e) rule can apply for a waiver of this requirement. The waiver process is complicated and can be time consuming.

See the 212(e) waiver information online HERE.

J-2 Dependents

The J-1 visa holder must provide financial verification to ISS in order to have J-2 dependents (spouse and/or children) added to their DS-2019. This financial verification must be in the original, be less than 6 months old and demonstrate funding available for $6000 USD or more for a J-2 spouse and $3000 USD or more for each J-2 child.
J-2 Dependents (spouse and/or children) may study full or part-time in the U.S. J-2 dependents may apply for employment authorization while in the U.S. ISS staff will assist with the application for employment authorization. J-2 visa holders are only eligible to apply for a Social Security Number if they apply for and receive employment authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Click here to print a Dependent Request Form.