It is essential that J-1 exchange students read and understand the information below. Please read it thoroughly. It is each student’s responsibility to know and adhere to all J‐1 regulations. The regulations are divided into 5 categories, each represented by the acronym F‐A‐C‐T‐S.
F = Full-Time Students
- Exchange students must maintain full-time status during the fall and/or spring semesters. To maintain full-time status, undergraduate and post‐baccalaureate students must complete (not just register for) a minimum of 12 hours each semester, and graduate students must complete 9 hours. Note: Some degree programs may require more hours for academic reasons.
- Students are not required by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to enroll in classes during the summer session, unless the summer session is their first semester in the U.S., or their last semester to complete their degree.
- If students need to drop below full-time credit, they should make an appointment to see an International Student Advisor BEFORE taking any action (even if failing a class).
- A grade of “W” does not count toward the full‐time requirement.
A = Authorization for Employment and Training
- Exchange visitors must receive authorization for employment before their first day
of employment. Authorization may be granted for up to 12 months at a time. Alternate
Responsible Officers may authorize employment for J students if the employment:
- Is pursuant to the terms of a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship.
- Occurs on the premises of the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
- Is necessary, due to serious, urgent, and/or unforeseen economic circumstances that have arisen since acquiring the exchange visitor status. Under these circumstances, the student may be authorized to work off campus.
- Involves academic training that relates to the student’s field of study.
C = Carry Current Documents
- Keep a valid passport. At a minimum, it should be valid for up to 6 months into the future.
- Carry immigration documents (passport, I‐94 card, & DS‐2019).
- While in the U.S., exchange visitors are required to maintain their visa status. The visa sticker, located inside the Exchange visitor's passport, is not a priority. Its ONLY function is to serve as a
“key” when entering or re-entering the U.S. J-1 students should understand the following:
- Visa status is documented by immigration officials on the DS-2019 and I-94 record. The immigration official will denote J-1 status and D/S (Duration of Status)
- Exchange visitors must maintain their status (not the sticker) in order to remain in the U.S. This can be accomplished by obeying all U.S. regulations.
- Expired visa stickers must be renewed before students can re-enter the U.S. Different types of visa stickers are specific to status, so students seeking J-1 status upon re-entry should arrive with a J-1 visa. Students who enter the country with a specific departure date on their I‐94 record (there is no D/S) should immediately make an appointment to see an advisor in OIAP.
- J-1 students should only attend the school listed on their current DS‐2019. Students interested in attending another institution must complete a SEVIS transfer to that school and obtain approval on a new DS-2019.
- Exchange visitors must apply for an extension of their DS‐2019 before the expiration date. OIAP can only grant extensions before the expiration date listed on the DS‐2019. Valid reasons for extensions include: changes in major, research difficulties, or a medical issues.
- Exchange visitors are required to obtain health insurance. All exchange visitors (both J‐1 principals and J‐2 dependents) are required to have sickness, accident, medical evacuation, and repatriation insurance throughout the duration of their status as set by the Department of State.
T = Transitions
- Report any change of address to OIAP within 10 days. An International Student Advisor will update immigration on students’ changes of address; students are responsible for updating this information in E-Services.
- When changing degree levels, J-1 students must obtain a new DS-2019. Exchange students may only advance from lower to higher degree levels (e.g. from a bachelor's to a master's degree, or from a master’s to a doctorate).
- Before leaving the U.S., students who plan to re-enter with J-1 status, must obtain a recent travel endorsement on their DS‐2019 before their departure. This endorsement is required for re-entry. Once the degree listed on the DS-2019 has been completed, the DS-2019 can no longer be used for re-entry, even if it has not yet expired.
- If students are interested in Academic Training, they should make a transition plan before completing their degree. In order to apply, students must have a job offer, and must submit their application for Academic Training before completing their degree. The job must be directly related to their major area of study.
- Students must complete their degree/academic training before their DS‐2019 program ending date. Students must notify OIAP in order to properly end their DS‐2019 in the SEVIS system, thereby avoiding any complications regarding status or future re‐entry to the U.S.
S = Stay in Focus
- The Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) requires OIAP to report via the internet all events in the life of a student. Therefore, it is vital that students stay in contact with OIAP and uphold all of the requirements listed here, in order to maintain their status and avoid unintentional violations. The government may change or extend J-1 regulations at any time. It is students’ responsibility to remain informed. OIAP workshops, International Student Advisors, and university emails are all convenient and valuable sources of information.