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Maintaining J-1 Student Status

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS (the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) is the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Web-based system for maintaining information on international students and exchange visitors in the United States. The Office of International Education (OIE) serves as the “Exchange Visitor Advisor” which means that we work with your sponsor to help support you. It is your sponsor's responsibility to make any changes to your immigration record

SEVIS monitors your name, date of birth, country of birth/citizenship, address, email address, phone number, program dates, major/minor, course load, funding, employment authorization, entry and exit from the USA, etc. You must notify OIE of any change to these categories within 10 days of the change. Your SEVIS record is your part of your permanent immigration record in the USA.  It can never be erased, so it is important to always follow the regulations in order to maintain your status.  Falling out of status as a student could affect your eligibility for all future visa applications.

Student Responsibilities

  • Keep your immigration documents in a safe and secure place.
  • Keep your passport and other immigration documents up-to-date at all times.
  • Inform OIE immediately if you lose any of your documents.
  • Be knowledgeable of, and abide by, all immigration regulations relating to your status, including deadlines.

Passport

  • Your passport must be valid at all times.
  • If your passport will expire while you are in the USA, contact your country’s nearest embassy for information on how to renew your passport.
  • If you are traveling outside of the USA, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of reentry.  (There are some exceptions to this, so if you are unsure, check with OIE.)

DS-2019

  • You must keep your DS-2019 up-to-date at all times.
  • You must request an updated DS-2019 from your sponsor within 10 days of the change if:
  • You declare or change your major, and/or add a second major or minor
  • There is a change in your funding or name.
  • If you will not complete your program in the time given on your DS-2019, you must request an extension at least 30 days before your DS-2019 expires*. (*Extensions are only considered when approved by your sponsor.)

I-94: Arrival/Departure Record

Your I-94 is your record of entry and departure from the USA.  All students entering the USA through an airport will not receive a paper I-94.  Instead, you will receive an entry stamp in your passport that should be notated with “J-1 D/S.”  After entering the USA, you should visit www.cbp.gov/i94 to print a copy of your electronic I-94.  If you enter the USA at a land crossing, you might receive a paper I-94 that will be stapled in your passport.

Duration of Status (D/S)

You were given the annotation D/S on your entry stamp and electronic I-94.  This means that you are permitted to remain in the USA even if your visa has expired as long as you are maintaining valid J-1 status and are either:

  • Engaged in a full-course of study
  • Engaged in authorized Academic Training
  • In your “grace period”

Comprehensive Health Insurance

All J-1 students are required to maintain comprehensive health insurance that meets the U.S. government and SUNY minimum requirements for the duration of your academic program. More info here.

Full-Time Enrollment Requirement

You are required to enroll full-time in the fall and spring semesters.  Full-time enrollment is considered to be:

  • Undergraduate students: 12 credits
  • Graduate students without assistantship: 12 credits
  • Graduate students with assistantship/fellowship: 9 credits
  • Graduate students who require additional English language instruction: 9 graduate-level credits + 3 credits undergrad ESL
  • Graduate students who require additional English language instruction and have an assistantship/fellowship: 6 graduate-level credits + 3 credits undergrad ESL
  • Graduate students who have met all academic requirements: 1 research credit & file a Certificate of Full-Time Status every semester you meet the eligibility requirements

You must continue to make normal progress towards your degree during your program. Enrollment is not required during the summer or winter breaks which are considered vacation periods. For the summer, graduate students will be considered full time if registered for at least one credit of thesis/dissertation research, professional experience, or independent study and their major professor verifies in writing that they are working full time on the completion of degree requirements.

Travel Outside of the USA

Before traveling outside of the USA, verify the following:

  • Your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the date of your reentry
  • Your visa is still valid (not applicable for Canadian citizens)
  • Page 1 of your DS-2019 has been signed within one year of the date of your reentry by your sponsor.  This is called a “travel validation.”  Travel validations are valid for one year only.
  • More info here.

On-Campus Employment

J-1 international students are permitted to work on campus up to 20 hours per week.  However, you must first get J-1 On-campus Work Authorization from OIE prior to engaging in on-campus employment. More info here.

Off-Campus Employment

J-1 international students are not permitted under any circumstance to work off-campus without prior authorization. Working off-campus without authorization is a major violation of your immigration status. There is one option for off-campus employment authorization on a J-1 visa: Academic Training.

Academic Training

Academic Training (AT) is employment, training, or experience related to a student's major field of study as indicated on their DS-2019. Academic training may involve sequential or simultaneous activities, either paid or unpaid, with several employers, occurring before or after degree completion, provided that all eligibility requirements are met and approval procedures are followed for each employer and activity, and the maximum eligibility time limits are not exceeded. For students whose DS-2019's were issued by ESF, Academic Training authorization is granted by OIE; for sponsored students (e.g., Fulbright), Academic Training is authorized by your J-1 Program Sponsor. More info here.

Taxes

You are required to complete the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 8843 every year, regardless of if you have worked in the USA.  If you have worked or have a taxable financial aid award, you will also need to file the 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ.  If you are employed on-campus, you will receive a tax packet from Accounting with instructions on how to complete your taxes.  If you worked off campus (CPT or OPT), you should receive a wage statement (W-2) from your employer and will need to use that to file your own taxes.  The deadline to file all tax forms each year is April 15. More info here.

Grace Period

J-1 students have 30 days from the date of their program completion or final day of authorized practical training to prepare to depart the USA. During your grace period you can:

  • Prepare to depart and depart the USA
  • Being academic training

During your grace period, you cannot work, study, or leave and reenter the USA with the same DS-2019. 

Appointments with OIE

If you ever have a question about your status, need to comply with reporting requirements, or need assistance, you are encouraged to either make an appointment with OIE. OIE does not work for the US Government.

***It is the responsibility of an international student to abide by U.S. immigration regulations and to maintain valid non-immigrant student status. ***


***The Office of International Education reserves the right to a one-week time frame for reviewing and processing of any submitted requests. Student should anticipate OIE to take the full week and should expect to submit documents early in order to avoid potential complications.***