Maintaining J-1 Status

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International Services

The Office of

Maintaining J-1 Status

Introduction: Why Maintain J-1 Student Status?

J-1 students are required under immigration law to understand, acknowledge, and comply with certain rules and regulations. If you fail to comply with these rules and regulations you may lose certain important immigration benefits, including your eligibility to

  • accept on-campus or off-campus employment, including academic training
  • remain in or return to the United States following a trip abroad
  • transfer to another Exchange Visitor program
  • change to another non-immigrant status or pursue other immigration benefits

Teachers College is required to notify the U.S. Department of State in certain cases when a student fails to maintain lawful J-1 student status. For this reason, it is essential that every J-1 student complies with the following rules. Failure to comply for even unintentional or inadvertent reasons is not considered acceptable.

Consult with Your J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor

J-1 students at Teachers College may be sponsored either by Teachers College's Exchange Visitor program or an external agency such as the Institute of International Education (IIE), AMIDEAST, or LASPAU. If you received your Form DS-2019 from an external sponsor, it is essential that you consult with them on immigration-related matters. Your sponsor is responsible for deciding its own policies in accordance with J-1 regulations, and advising you on how to meet these policies.

Rules for Maintaining J-1 Student Status

1.  MAINTAIN VALID AND UNEXPIRED IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS. As a J-1 student, you are required to maintain valid, unexpired immigration documents while in the United States. These include:

  • an unexpired passport valid at least six months into the future (Canadian citizens excepted)
  • a valid, unexpired Form DS-2019 (see below)
  • an I-94 card marked "J-1 D/S"

Your Form DS-2019is issued by Teachers College or another sponsoring agency for the purpose of study and research at Teachers College. It reflects your biographical information, your degree objective, a starting and ending date, your academic major / field of study, and your financial information. Your DS-2019 should reflect at all times correct, up-to-date information.  If any significant information on your DS-2019 changes (change of name, school, degree objective, major, or financial sources), you must notify the Office of International Services or your sponsor to request obtain an amended DS-2019.

Your I-94 card is the small white card issued and processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at an airport of port-of-entry. Your I-94 card should always be marked "J-1 D/S" to reflect your admission to the U.S. as a J-1 student for "duration of status," i.e., for that time you are a full-time student as indicated on your DS-2010. If your I-94 card does not have the annotation "J-1 D/S," contact the Office of International Services immediately.

2.  ENROLL IN A FULL COURSE OF STUDY (OR RECEIVE AUTHORIZATION FOR A REDUCED COURSELOAD FROM THE OIS).  You are required to pursue a full courseload during the autumn and spring semesters. A reduced courseload (part-time study) may be authorized by the Office of International Services only in particular circumstances (see the section on 'Full-Time Study Requirement' in this section of our web site for more information).

3. MAKE NORMAL, FULL-TIME PROGRESS TOWARD DEGREE COMPLETION.  You are expected to make normal progress toward degree completion. This means that you must meet your department's standards and requirements for satisfactory academic performance. Please note that under TC academic policy, 8 points of C- or lower constitutes grounds for dismissal from the College. Individual departments may have additional requirements for remaining in good academic standing.

Delays due to unsatisfactory performance, failing grades, incompletes, and lack of consultation or advisement with faculty advisors are not considered acceptable for purposes of maintaining J-1 status or qualifying for extensions of J-1 status.  Only valid medical or academic reasons (such as changes in academic advisors, research topics, or problems with methodology or data collection) are considered acceptable grounds for any delays in meeting degree requirements.

4.  MEDICAL INSURANCE REQUIREMENT. All persons in J-1 and J-2 status must carry medical insurance that meets specific requirements set out by the Department of State. These requirements are printed on page 2 of your Form DS-2019. Information on these requirements, and on insurance plans which meet them, is available from the Office of International Services. If you willfully fail to carry adequate medical insurance for yourself and your dependents, your J-1 sponsor must terminate your program. Each year, you should complete a compliance form at the Office of International Services. Note: students who enroll themselves and their dependents in Columbia's Chickering Insurance Plan are considered in compliance with the medical insurance requirement.

J-1 insurance compliance form Download and complete the J-1 Insurance Compliance Form. This form must be completed by any J-1 student under TC sponsorship, and must be submitted to the OIS annually (every year).

5. WORK ONLY WITH THE WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE OIS OR YOUR PROGRAM SPONSOR.  J-1 students have limited employment benefits, as explained in the J-1 Employment section of this web site. Please note that in all cases employment must receive the prior written authorization of the Office of International Services and/or your J-1 Exchange Visitor program sponsor. Failure to obtain employment authorization before starting employment is considered a violation of J-1 immigration regulations.

6.  FILE REQUIRED PROCEDURES FOR EXTENDING OR UPDATING YOUR DS-2019 AS NECESSARY. Contact the OIS if you will need an extension of your DS-2019 to complete your current degree requirements. You must also contact us if your degree program or objective will change (for example, if you change your major field of study and/or degree level). J-1 regulations permit certain kinds of changes while prohibiting others, so consult with the OIS for further information.

7.  NOTIFY THE OFFICE OF THE REGISTRAR OF ANY CHANGE OF NAME OR ADDRESS WITHIN 10 DAYS OF THE CHANGE.  You are required to notify Teachers College through the Office of the Registrar of any change of address or change of legal name.  This notification must be made within 10 days of the change.

  • We are required to maintain a "physical" (actual street residential) address in your immigration records. If you prefer that TC maintain a PO Box address, please report your "physical" address to the OIS directly.
  • Students on post-completion Academic Training (employment following completion of degree requirements) may report their address to the OIS directly.

8.  NOTIFY THE OIS IF YOU WILL NOT REGISTER, OR IF YOU WILL BE OUTSIDE OF THE US FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME. If you intend to depart the United States for an extended period of time, please notify the OIS. Your J-1 status may be terminated if you are not registered as a full-time student during any autumn or spring semester.

Students who will be outside of the United States for an extended period of time for data collection, fieldwork, and research-related reasons may retain J-1 student status but must maintain full-time registration during the autumn and spring semesters. Registration during the summer is not required.

9.  DEPART THE UNITED STATES WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS OF COMPLETING YOUR DEGREE REQUIREMENTS AND/OR ANY POST-COMPLETION ACADEMIC TRAINING BENEFITS.  Your J-1 status comes to an end within 30 days of completing your degree requirements or any post-completion Academic Training benefits for which you have been authorized.  You are required to depart from the United States by the end of the 30-day period.