Maintaining Your J-1 Status
It is very important that international scholars in J-1 status understand how to maintain their lawful immigration status while in the U.S. The following are requirements outlined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of State for an individual to maintain lawful J-1 status:
- Maintain a passport valid for six months into the future at all times. (Some countries are not required to have six months of future validity; contact the Office of International Engagement if you are unsure about the requirements for your country.)
- Attend the university listed on your DS-2019.
- To attend another institution, an individual must request that the SEVIS record be transferred to the new school.
- Scholars cannot work or conduct research off our campus without obtaining authorization from the Office of International Engagement
- Report any change of local U.S. address to the Office of International Engagement within 10 days of moving.
- Consult the Office of International Engagement with any international travel plans for advice on the documents required for reentry to the U.S. and to obtain a travel signature on the DS-2019.
Travel outside the US
To travel outside the US and return:
- You must have a valid J-1 visa to return to the U.S. If you changed your status to J-1 while inside the U.S. or your visa expired, you will need to apply for a J-1 visa in your home country the first time you depart the U.S.
- You must be outside of the U.S. for less than five months.
You will need the following:
- 1st page of your DS-2019 signed for travel by a Designated School Official (DSO) in the I.S. office within the last year. Submit a request for a Travel Signature.
- Valid J-1 visa, which must also be valid beyond the date you plan to return to the U.S.
- Passport valid for at least 6 months into the future from the date you will return to the U.S. (unless the country from which your passport was issued is listed here under Countries That Extend Passport Validity for an Additional Six Months After Expiration, in which case the country extends passport validity for an additional six months after the passport’s expiration date, so you may use your passport to enter the U.S. as long as it is unexpired)
- I-94 card or Print-Out of Electronic I-94. You can get the print-out of your electronic I-94 here. If you have a paper card, it must be turned in at the airport as you leave the U.S. and are going through Customs unless you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, or the contiguous territories; if this is the case, please see the below section entitled, “Reentering the U.S. with Automatic Visa Revalidation.”
- Scholars: You must carry a copy of your invitation letter or employment offer letter from Montclair State.
- Documentation of your financial support is highly recommended.
When Travel outside the U.S. Is Not Advisable
- If you are in the process of applying for reinstatement to J-1 status
- If you have a pending Change of Status application
- If you plan to be absent for five months or longer; J-1 scholars are not able to maintain J-1 status if they are outside the U.S. for a period of five months or more.
- If your employer has filed an H-1B petition or petition for Lawful Permanent Residence with USCIS on your behalf. Please consult your company’s immigration attorney about travel in this situation.
Reentering the U.S. with Automatic Visa Revalidation
Automatic Revalidation allows certain F, J, and H status holders to depart the U.S. and re-enter with an expired nonimmigrant visa stamp in their valid passport after visiting Canada, Mexico or the “adjacent islands” for less than 30 days. The policies and regulations regarding Automatic Visa Revalidation are located on the Department of State’s website and should be reviewed carefully before you travel; it is also highly recommended that you print out a copy of the Department of State’s guidance to carry with you when you travel.
According to the Department of State, a nonimmigrant who otherwise meets the requirements is NOT eligible for Automatic Visa Revalidation is if s/he:
- Applied for a new visa which has not yet been issued;
- Applied for a new visa and was denied;
- Has been outside of the United States for more than thirty days;
- Has traveled to a country other than Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island which is not included in the automatic revalidation provisions;
- Is a national of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designated country, including Iran, Syria, and Sudan. Review more about State Sponsors of Terrorism.
- Is in possession of an F student visa or J exchange visitor visa and has traveled to Cuba;
- Is in possession of an M student visa and has traveled to a location outside the United States, other than Canada and Mexico.
You must have the following documents to re-enter the U.S. using Automatic Visa Revalidation:
- Form I-94 or Print-Out of Electronic I-94. You can get the printout of your electronic I-94 here. If you have a paper I-94 card (the white card in your passport), you must be sure that the customs officer/airline attendant does not take your I-94 upon your departure from the U.S. If you have an electronic I-94 and plan to depart the U.S. by plane but re-enter by land, you should be sure that the Customs officer gives you a new I-94 number when you re-enter the U.S.
- Immigration Documents/Other Documentation: You will need all of the documents listed above except the valid visa; however, if you have renewed your passport and the expired visa is in your old passport, you must carry the passport that contains your expired visa.
Travel to Canada
Citizens of certain countries must have a visa to enter Canada. To find out if you need a visa and to obtain visa application instructions, please refer to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). You may also visit the page for the Canadian Consulate in NYC.
Travel to Mexico
Citizens of certain countries must have a visa to enter Mexico these may be obtained at the Mexican Consulate. For a list of required documents, please refer to the Mexican Consulate in NYC.
Occasional Lectures and Consultations
J-1 Professors, Research Scholars, and Short-Term Scholars may participate in occasional lectures and short-term consultations off campus, if authorized to do so beforehand by their departments and the Office of International Engagement. Such lectures and consultations must be incidental to the Exchange Visitor’s primary program activities and must be short term and occasional in nature. Before accepting any off-campus opportunities please contact the Office of International Engagement.
The following applies to accompanying spouses or children in J-2 status.
- Dependents’ J-2 status is only valid as long as J-1 status is valid.
- Your dependents must apply for an receive a J-2 Form DS-2019.
- J-2 children are allowed to enroll in school (up through and including high school) in the U.S.
- J-2 employment is NOT allowed without authorization from USCIS. The approval process can take at least three months.
- If the J-1 visa holder needs to travel abroad, the J-2 dependent can remain in the U.S. for a short period of time. Children must have a caregiver present if they will remain behind.
- If a J-2 dependent arrives in the U.S. after the J-1 please notify the Office of International Engagement to conduct an immigration check-in.
- If a J-2 dependent permanently departs the U.S. please notify the Office of International Engagement
Program Date Changes
If you decide to leave the U.S. before your program end date, contact the Office of International Engagement to have your DS-2019 amended.
If you need more time to complete your program, you must apply for a Program Extension. You cannot extend your DS-2019 after its program end date. Extensions require department and the Office of International Engagement’s approval.
Short-term scholars cannot extend their programs beyond the six-month maximum.
It is possible to transfer your visa sponsorship to another school. School transfers have specific deadlines and procedures in the SEVIS system that require coordination between our office and your new school. If you wish to transfer to another school, please contact the Office of International Engagement before moving forward so that we can properly assist you.
Upon completion of your program you are permitted a 30 day grace period from your program end date before you must depart the U.S.
Prior to your departure you must submit a brief 1-2 page summary report detailing your research efforts and achievements. Please also include the opportunities you had to experience American culture during your stay. The report should be submitted to your faculty mentor and the Office of International Engagement.
If You Need to Renew Your J-1 Visa:
View information about getting the J-1 visa and visa wait times.
In addition to preparing the documents listed in the below checklists, please review the I.S. guidance entitled Guidelines for Applying for a Non-immigrant Visa.
For current scholars (Professor, Research Scholar, Short-Term Scholar, or Specialist categories), here is a list of the documents you will need to renew your visa;
- DS-2019 signed for travel. The signature is valid for one year from the date your DS-2019 is signed for all categories except the Short-Term Scholar category (signatures for Short-Term Scholars are valid for six months) or until the program end date, whichever is shorter.
- Invitation letter (renewed if your program has been extended) or employment verification letter from Montclair State University.
- Documentation of financial support for the first year of your program (or the length of your program, if the program is less than one year) and proof of renewable funds for the following years.
- Affidavit of support from each of your financial sponsors. If you are being supported by the government of your home country, you do not need an affidavit. If your support comes entirely from Montclair State (salary, stipend, etc.), you do not need an affidavit.
- Proof of permanent residence in your home country.
- Passport valid for six months into the future from the date you will return to the U.S. (unless the country from which your passport was issued is listed on the Participants list, in which case the country extends passport validity for an additional six months after the passport’s expiration date, so you may use your passport to enter the U.S. as long as it is unexpired)
- SEVIS fee receipt (if you can’t find your old one, you will need to reprint your SEVIS fee receipt)
Visa Restrictions on Returning to the US
The J visa category can subject scholars to limits on applying for other types of visa categories or repeat participation in the J-1 category.
Two-Year Home Residence Requirement – 212(e)
In some cases, the J-1 visa carries with it a two-year home residence requirement which obliges visa holders and their J-2 dependents to return to their home countries for two years before being eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or a non-immigrant H or L visa. The requirement also makes J-1 visa holders and their J-2 dependents ineligible to change to any other visa status within the United States if they are subject to it.
Not all J-1 visa holders are subject to this requirement. The requirement applies to those individuals in one of the following situations:
- J-1 visa holders who are funded by the United States Government, their own governments, or international organizations during part or all of their stay in the United States are subject to the requirement.
- J-1 visa holders whose skills are needed in their home countries, as registered on the Exchange Visitor Skills List, are subject to the requirement.
- J-1 visa holders who are graduates of foreign medical schools participating in internships, residencies, or clinical training programs in the United States sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) are subject to the requirement.
Are you subject to 212(e)?
J-1 visa holders should check both their Forms DS2019 and J-1 visas to see if they are subject to the two year home residence requirement, 212(e).
Advisory Opinion from the U.S. Department of State
In the case that there is a doubt in whether or not a J-1 visa holder is subject to the requirement, the individual may request an Advisory Opinion from the U.S. Department of State.
There is a 212e waiver process, but do not file for a waiver of 212(e) without consulting the Office of International Engagement for more information.
Visa Restrictions on Returning to the US in the J-1 Category
Two-Year Bar on Repeat Participation
J-1 Visa Holders in the Research and Professor categories are subject to a two-year bar on repeat participation in the same category. This means that you have to wait for two years after your DS-2019’s end date to return to U.S. as a J-1 Research Scholar/Professor. This does not affect your ability to return to the U.S. in other visa categories.
12-Month Bar after Repeat Participation
You are not eligible to begin a J-1 exchange program as a Professor or Research Scholar if you were physically present in any J status (including J-2) for “all or part of” the “twelve month period immediately preceding” except in cases of:
- J-1 transfer from another university
- Presence in J status of less than six months
- Presence in J status as a Short-Term Scholar