Maintaining J-1 Status

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

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-2019 is 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.

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).

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. The minimum J-1 healht insurance requirements set forth by the Department of State are as follows:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

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 Health Insurance Plan are considered in compliance with the medical insurance requirement.

  • All Vising Doctoral Students and Visiting Scholars in J-1 status must complete the J-1 Insurance Compliance Form and Provide a copy of their Health insurance policy. All information must be in English. 

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 Students and Scholars (OISS) 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.

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.

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.

The US Department of State (DoS) administers the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program to host Professors, Research Scholars, Specialists, Students, and Interns to engage in work or study-based exchange visitor programs. 

The health, safety, and well-being of our J-1 exchange visitors is the priority of both the US DoS and Teachers College as the J-1 Program Sponsor. Staff at the Teachers College Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) is here to provide support and resources to our J-1 exchange visitors regarding their J status as well as supporting the successful completion of their program objectives. 

The US DoS requires Exchange Visitor Program sponsors report serious incidents, problems or controversy involving J-1 Exchange Visitors to the Office of Private Sector Exchange Administration Academic and Government (OPA-AG) unit. Reports must be made within 24 hours of an incident's occurrence. 

Examples of serious incidents or allegations that the TC-OISS needs to be made aware of:

  • Death 
  • Missing Person
  • Serious Illness or Injury (e.g., brain injury, severe burn, major surgery, communicable disease, serious mental health incidents, any condition requiring hospitalization of 48 hours or more, etc.) 
  • Litigation (related to a sponsor’s exchange visitor program, in which sponsor or an exchange visitor may be a named party)   
  • Lost or stolen immigration documents  (i.e., passport and visa)     
  • Incident Involving the Criminal Justice System  (e.g., arrest, charges, law enforcement, etc.)  
  • Theft of intellectual property or violations of export controls  
  • Sexually-Related Incidents or Abuse (incident or allegation involving sexual exploitation, harassment or abuse)  
  • Negative Press involving a sponsor’s exchange visitor program  
  • Foreign Government Involvement (including embassy officials)  
  • Other Situations Impacting Exchange Visitor Safety

The above are not exhaustive and there may be other instances that may impact the safety and well-being of an exchange visitor. More information regarding this can be found on the US Department of State website here

You can report a serious situation to the TC-OISS by submitting the “Exchange Visitor Incident Report Form” here

Please contact the OISS if you have any concerns. 

If you intend to depart the United States for an extended period of time, please notify the OISS. 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.

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.

Back to skip to quick links