It is very important for exchange visitors to maintain legal status while they are in the U.S. Exchange visitors who fall “out of status” are considered illegal aliens and are subject to penalties, which could render them ineligible for certain benefits associated with the J-1 visa. Listed are the minimum items you need to be aware of in relation to maintaining legal status; fuller descriptions are below.
1. Have a valid passport.
2. Have a properly executed and validated DS-2019.
3. Have health insurance that meets US federal regulations.
4. Leave the US within 30 days after the ending date of your program as listed on the DS-2019.
5. File for an extension of stay or transfer of program 30-60 days PRIOR to the expiration date of the form DS-2019.
6. Participate in activities as described in the exchange program objective and within limitations of visitor category (e.g., exchange students must be enrolled full-time; exchange visitors must have authorization from the Responsible Officer to work off-campus)
7. Be aware if the home-country residency requirement applies to you.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: terms to know and processes to remember
EMPLOYMENT: You are NOT allowed to work in the United States without authorization. J-1 students might be allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session (check with the Financial Aid Office). Other exchange visitors have authorization through the exchange program to work on campus.
CHANGE OF ADDRESS: IMPORTANT!! You must report any change of address or residence and/or any change of name directly to the International Office on Form AR-11 within 10 days of the change. The IO will then electronically notify USICE of the change, via SEVIS, within 21 days, as required by the new regulations.
PASSPORT: You must maintain a valid passport at all times, unless exempt from passport requirements.
TRANSFER TO ANOTHER SCHOOL: You must notify the International Office of your intent to transfer, obtain a release from your Allegheny departmental sponsor, obtain a DS-2019 from the new institution, and report to the Responsible Officer at the new school within 15 days of the program start date listed on the DS-2019.
PROGRAM EXTENSION: You must apply for an extension of your exchange program prior to the expiration date on your DS-2019 if you cannot complete your program by that date, or want to extend your program. You must make an appointment with the Director of the IO to begin the extension process 30-60 days prior to the expiration date of the DS-2019, so the extension can be completed prior to the expiration date on the document.
TRAVEL: You must notify the IO prior to traveling outside the U.S. so that your DS-2019 can be endorsed for travel or a new form can be issued, if required. Students must allow at least 1 week PRIOR to the travel date in order for the form to be endorsed or a new one to be issued. Due to SEVIS operations, we cannot guarantee that forms that are submitted less than one week prior to travel can be endorsed or new ones issued.
DEPENDENTS: You must notify the IO of any accompanying dependents in J-2 status and provide biographical information (e.g., full name, address, country of birth) and immigration information (e.g., passport information, visa information) regarding those dependents using the IO “Dependent Information Form.” The IO is required to report information to USICE regarding your dependents.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This information is not exhaustive and is subject to change without notice. International students and scholars should contact the International Office at 814/332.4891 to arrange an appointment to discuss any questions or concerns related to your legal status in the United States.
Legal immigration status can be jeopardized if proper procedures are not followed, so it is always best to consult with the International Student Advisor in matters of immigration before taking any action.
We would like to thank Mary Lee Carter, President, International Student/Scholar Resources, Phoenix, AZ, (firstname.lastname@example.org) for advice and comments for this handout.
Portions of the section on visa application were produced by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. NAFSA would like to credit Gerald A. Wunsch , Esq., 1997, then a member of the Consular Issues Working Group, and a former U.S. Consular Officer in Mexico, Suriname, and the Netherlands and Martha Wailes of Indiana University for their contributions to this document. NAFSA also appreciates the input of the U.S. Department of State.