How is the J-1 exchange visitor student status different from the F-1 student status?
J-1 students receive the Form DS-2019 to apply for their visa stamp rather than Form I-20 for the F-1 visa stamp at US Consulates. It is usually determined that a student will be a J-1 status holder if they are funded by a government entity, participating in an official exchange program, or is required by their scholarship/sponsor to study in the US.
Some LSU J-1 exchange students have DS-2019 forms issued by LSU; other J-1 exchange students have DS-2019 forms issued by other agencies for the purpose of attending LSU (i.e., ISEP, Fulbright, etc.).
There are many similarities between the federal regulations that govern the J-1 student status and the F-1 status. There are, however, a few distinct differences (which will be outlined below). Document processing request procedures (admission documents, employment authorizations, program extensions, requests for dependents to join, etc.) are usually the same at International Services (IS) as the instructions for F-1 students.
Registration & Fees
LSU exchange students on an official LSU bilateral exchange will have the majority of their LSU tuition and fees waived due to their participation in a bilateral program with their home institution.
Some J-1 students have financial sponsors who wish to be billed directly for the portion of the University costs that they will cover. Students should send a detailed billing contract from their sponsor to International Services so that the sponsor can be billed directly by LSU Bursar Operations.
Regular document processing requests can be made by completing and submitting the “Green Sheet Request Form” available at the IS reception desk at 101 Hatcher Hall.
Green Sheet Requests include:
- extensions of program/DS-2019 form
- signature for authorization to travel and return to US
- changes of program level and/or major
- requests to have dependents join you in the US
Remember - If LSU did not issue your Form DS-2019, we cannot process any changes, extension requests or signatures for travel. You should submit DS-2019 requests to the agency that issued your DS-2019.
All J-1 exchange visitor students enrolled at LSU as degree-seeking or non-degree seeking (bilateral exchange students) must enroll FULL-TIME during fall and spring semesters [summer is optional unless it is your first semester of enrollment as a J-1 in the US; to be able to not enroll for the summer semester, you must register full-time in the previous spring semester and will again register full-time in the fall semester, unless fall is your graduation semester and you can enroll part-time]:
- Undergraduates: 12 credit hours
- Graduate Students: 9 credit hours
Degree seeking students may enroll part-time only in their last semester of enrollment prior to graduation. To do so, they must complete graduation check-out procedures at their undergraduate college or the Graduate School prior to enrolling part-time. Any other J-1 students wishing to register part-time or drop to a part-time course load must first consult with an IS advisor so that they can be advised of any immigration violations beforehand.
You must maintain a certain grade point average to be in good standing with the University and make satisfactory academic progress as a student to meet USCIS/US Department of State requirements. This includes exchange students and those who may not be taking LSU credits back to their home institutions for transfer.
Minimum GPA requirements:
- Undergraduates: 2.0
- Graduate Students: 3.0
Transferring to another US Institution
Students may wish to transfer to another institution to complete their studies or pursue an advanced level degree program. In order to do so, you must request an immigration transfer from the original agency that issued your DS-2019. That entity must agree to release your J-1 record to another University based on the same academic focus/program objective. Some sponsors will not allow the transfer, however, you may have the option to change your status to the F-1 visa for another academic program for a new program objective. Usually J-1s have to apply for the F-1 status outside the US and at a US Consulate.
LSU is willing transfer J-1 exchange visitor students to other J-1 exchange visitor programs once it is verified that the student has been admitted, the new institution will accept their J-1 immigration record and the student is pursuing the same program objective.
212(e) - Home Residency Requirements
Some J-1 exchange visitor students may be subject to the 212(e) rule. This means that your home country requires you to return home for at least two years after the J program has ended. This rule would prevent you from changing your visa status within the boundaries of the US to most other statuses. You may apply for the F-1 student visa at a US Consulate or Embassy outside the US for a new academic degree program. However, it is not guaranteed that you will be issued an F-1 visa to enter the US to pursue another US degree. Should you be issued an F-1 visa, it does not eliminate the 212(e) requirement for you to return home for 2 years; it merely postpones the requirement until after your F-1 program.
Part of being an exchange student may entail returning home after the program and apply the knowledge and experience your have gained through the program by bringing it back to your home country, as may be required by the US Department of State and some sponsors.
Students may refer to their J-1 visa stamp and/or the information in the lower left box of the DS-2019 form to determine if they are subject to the 212(e) requirement.
There is a process to apply for a waiver of the 212(e) requirement if you are subject; however, it is not guaranteed that it will be waived. It is difficult to obtain a waiver if there was government money involved in your exchange sponsorship. You must apply as an individual and not through/with the University for the individual request to ask for a waiver of the 212(e) requirement.
Information concerning applying for the 212(e) can be found at: Waiver of 212(e) information.
Resigning From LSU
J-1 students who resign for the fall or spring semesters (summer semester as well, but only if it is the student’s first semester at LSU) will be reported to International Services by the LSU University Registrar. International Services is required to report the official resignation of the student in SEVIS. The resignation reporting to SEVIS terminates the student’s status and their current I-20/DS-2019 Form. A student has 15 calendar days after the official resignation date to leave the U.S. If they do not depart within those 15 days, they will be out of lawful status.
A student who wishes to study at LSU after a resignation should contact International Services at email@example.com to request a new I-20/DS-2019 form to use to re-enter the U.S. and determine their eligibility and if any action for re-admission is necessary by the Office of Admissions and department (if applicable).
A student can re-enter the U.S. to continue their academic program only 30 days prior to the semester they will re-enroll, as restricted by U.S. federal regulations, which is determined by the program begin date on their new I-20/DS-2019 form.
Grace Periods for Departing the U.S.
J-1 students have a 30-day grace period (not 60 days like F-1 students), following the completion of their academic program. This grace period can be used to prepare to exit the US during those 30 days or apply for a new status to remain in the US (if you are not subject to 212(e)).
Remember that if you are not completing your academic program by the expiration date on your DS-2019, you must request an extension of your DS-2019 form BEFORE it expires. J-1 students have Academic Training instead of OPT. You must apply for Academic Training before your DS-2019 expires AND BEFORE the completion of your academic program as defined in the Academic Training section.
J-1s have the same restrictions and same options listed for F-1 students during their grace period. J-1 students have Academic Training instead of OPT and the DS-2019 form in place of the I-20.
F-1 and J-1 students who terminate their course of study without obtaining prior approval from International Services are not eligible for any grace period and must depart the U.S. immediately.
F-1 and J-1 students who have been authorized by IS and officially withdraw/resign from the University and classes during a semester have 15 days to depart from the U.S. from the date of the resignation/withdrawal (Mandatory).
The 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) established penalties for visa overstays and unlawful presence of non-immigrants.
Prior USCIS policy (1997-2018): Status violation did not initiate unlawful presence for non-immigrants in the US.
It could be initiated by:
- status expired and remained in US
- Immigration judge determined status violation
- USCIS determined a status violation in the adjudication of an application
New USCIS policy effective August 9, 2018:
Specific to students and scholars, F- and J- non-immigrants (including dependents) who failed to maintain status on or after August 9, 2018 and remain in the US begin to accrue unlawful presence on the earliest of the day after:
- expiration of date specific I-94 record (US POE arrival/departure document) and remained in US
- (note that F and J status holders currently do NOT have date specific I-94s: expiration is “D/S” = Duration of Status) failing to pursue the course of study or program objective of authorized activity
- engaging in unauthorized activity
- completing course of study, program, or practical training and any grace period and remained in the US, or
- removal order by Immigration judge or Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)
Unlawful presence policies apply to all non-immigrants. USCIS Policy Memorandum: “Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants”, with some narrow exceptions, documents that F- and J- status holders will begin to accrue unlawful presence the day after a violation of status, and may subject them to a 3-year bar (if unlawfully present for 180 days but less than one year) or 10-year bar (if unlawfully present for one consecutive year or more) on returning to the US when they depart the US.
Technically this is not a new rule but this extreme change in policy can have grave consequences to non-immigrant student and scholars. There are many ways students and scholars can lose legal status, including working without authorization, failure to extend an I-20/DS-2019 timely (certificate/visa document), enrollment below full time without authorization, not pursuing original program objective, cease of studies/activities without authorization and departing the US as required, or any violation of any applicable federal regulations.
It is important for LSU F-1 and J-1 students and scholars to consult with advisors in International Services for any Immigration matters with any questions or concerns. LSU F-1 and J-1 participants will be notified by International Services if the office is aware that a violation has occurred.
For more information concerning the change in the unlawful presence policy, see: