Maintaining J-1 Status

Maintaining J-1 Status

Introduction: Why Maintain J-1 Status?

J-1 exchange visitors 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 employment
  • 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 an exchange visitor fails to maintain lawful J-1 status. For this reason, it is essential that every J-1 exchange visitor comply with the following rules. Failure to comply for even unintentional or inadvertent reasons is not considered acceptable.


As a J-1 exchange visitor, 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, program objective, or financial sources), you must notify the Office of International Students and Scholars or your sponsor to request obtain an amended DS-2019.

Your I-94 record is processed electronically by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at an airport of port-of-entry. Your I-94 record should always be marked "J-1 D/S" to reflect your admission to the U.S. as a J-1 exchange visitor for "duration of status," i.e., for the time you are engaging in your program objectives as indicated on your DS-2019. If your I-94 record does not have the annotation "J-1 D/S," contact the OISS immediately.

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 health 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. 

J-1 exchange visitors have limited employment benefits. Please note that in all cases, to accept employment the J-1 exchange visitor must receive the prior written authorization from the Office of International Students and Scholars 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.

For more questions regarding employment, please refer to the OISS website here

Contact the OISS if you will need an extension of visiting scholar program and DS-2019.

J-1 regulations permit certain kinds of changes while prohibiting others, so consult with the OISS for further information.

You are required to notify your J-1 program sponsor 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 U.S.  "physical" (actual street residential) address in your immigration records at all times. 

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. 


Consult with Your J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor

J-1 exchange visitors 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.

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