The J Exchange Visitor category was developed to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of education and cultural exchanges." Students in J-1 are often part of an exchange agreement, or may be participating in a program funded by the U.S. government, foreign government, or international organization.
As a student in the U.S. in J-1 status, you are required to follow specific federal laws. This page is meant to provide a generic overview of certain J-1 requirements; it does not contain all laws for every situation. If you ever have questions or concerns, always contact an advisor with International Student and Scholar Services for specific guidance.
As a J-1 student, it is your responsibility to maintain your non-immigrant J-1 status. Failure to follow the laws for J-1 status can result in you losing your legal ability to be in the U.S., and may harm your chances of getting a new visa in the future. To ensure you are following J-1 laws, you must:
- Keep your passport valid at all times, in most cases for at least 6 months into the future.
- Ensure your I-94 card is always marked as J-1, D/S when you re-enter the U.S.
- Study at The University of Iowa (educational institution listed on your DS-2019).
- Complete your class registration by the published registration deadline generally the 10-12 days after the first day of class, as published in the Office of the Registrar Academic Deadlines calendar.
- Maintain adequate health insurance coverage for your J-1 status and your J-2 dependents as legally required.
- Update your change of physical address (where you live in the US) on MyUI within 10 days of the change. This address cannot be a P.O. Box or a departmental address.
- Pursue a full-course of study each fall and spring semester, defined as: 12 semester hours for undergraduate students and 9 semester hours for graduate students. Online courses do not count toward a full course of study.
- Obtain permission from an ISSS advisor if you need to enroll in less than a full-course of study, using the Part-Time Enrollment Authorization form.
- Obtain permission from an ISSS advisor before withdrawing from all your courses.
- Make normal progress toward completing a course of study. This includes graduating when you are eligible to graduate and not delaying graduation for non-academic reasons.
- Not let your DS-2019 expire. You must remember the expiration date on your DS-2019, and process your program extension prior to the expiration date listed on your current DS-2019 if you are not able to complete your studies by that time.
- Obtain all on-campus work, off-campus work, and academic training authorizations in advance of beginning employment. The authorization must be in writing and must come from an ISSS advisor.
- Restrict your on-campus work to 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. You may work full-time during the winter and summer vacations. You must maintain a current J-1 On-Campus Work Authorization Letter.
- Not work after completing your program of study unless you have been authorized for academic training by an ISSS advisor.
- If traveling outside the U.S., ensure you have a valid visa (except Canadian citizens) and a recent travel signature on your DS-2019.
- Notify ISSS if you will complete your program 30 or more days prior to the end date on your DS-2019.
- Depart from the U.S. within 30 days after completing your program of study.