J-1 Students: How to Maintain Your J-1 Status While in the U.S.

PLEASE NOTE: This information is primarily for J-1 students for whom the sponsoring agency is University of Maryland Baltimore. If your DS-2019 was produced by another agency, you should be contacting that agency for immigration advice.

To stay in lawful J-1 student status in the United States, you must remember these important requirements:

1.Report to the OIS within 30 days of your DS-2019 start date
2.Always enroll full-time during the academic year
3.Update your local address within 10 days of moving
4.Maintain the health insurance required for J-1 exchange visitors
5.Keep your immigration documents valid and current:
    •  Apply for an extension with the OIS before the end date in Item 3 of your DS-2019
6.Never work on or off-campus without prior authorization from the OIS
7.Notify the OIS when you leave the United States or change visa status
If you travel outside the United States, make sure to have the proper re-entry documents

1. Report to the OIS within 30 Days of the DS-2019 Start Date

It is REQUIRED BY LAW that you come to the Office of International Services within 30 days of the start date on your DS-2019, whether it is your first time in the United States or if you are transferring from another institution. The start date is listed in Item 3 of your DS-2019.

2. Always Enroll Full Time 

J-1 students must maintain full-time student status each semester until they receive their degrees. For undergraduate students, full-time is 12 or more credits each semester. For graduate students, full-time is 9 or more credits each semester. There are some rare exceptions to this regulation however, please talk to the OIS staff before you drop below full time enrollment or take a leave of absence. The OIS may authorize part-time enrollment. Please see our Part-Time Authorization Request Form (pdf) for eligibility criteria. You must have authorization from the OIS before dropping below full-time.

3. Update Your Local Address

The immigration regulations require you to update your local residential address within 10 days of moving within the U.S. You may do this by updating your local address in your SURFS Account. You are required to use a physical residential address and not a P.O. box or university department address.

4. Maintain the Required Health Insurance

The U.S. immigration regulations require that all J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents maintain a specified level of health and accident insurance. The minimum levels are:

  • Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains expenses in the amount of $7,500
  • Medical evacuation expenses in the amount of $10,000
  • Co-insurance paid by the individual may be no higher than 25%

All of the above are covered by the UM student health insurance plan (you do have to add any J-2 dependents to the plan or cover them by an equivalent health insurance plan).

5. Keep Your Immigration Documents VALID and CURRENT

You should make photocopies of your immigration documents and keep the copies and originals in a safe place.

Keep photocopies of:
  •  Your passport pages with your personal information and picture
  •  The passport page containing your U.S. visa stamp
  •  Both sides of your I-94 Form (learn about transition to electronic I-94)
  •  Your DS-2019

  • Keep Your Passport Valid
    You should keep your passport valid for at least six months in to the future while you are studying in the U.S. Consult your country's consulate or embassy in the U.S. to renew your passport. You can find the contact information for your country's embassy at http://www.embassy.org/
  • J-1 Extension
    The end date of your immigration status is written on your DS-2019 as the end date in item #3 (not the end date of your visa stamp). If you are unable to complete your course of study by that time, you must apply for an extension BEFORE the DS-2019 end date. You must file your program extension with the OIS or your own sponsor at least two months before it expires. For more information on how to extend your DS-2019, click here.
  • Discuss Transfer Plans with an OIS Advisor
    If you plan to transfer to or from another school or sponsoring agency, the OIS and your prospective sponsoring agency will need to complete the immigration transfer procedure. Permission to transfer is granted only if the transfer contributes to the realization of the exchange visitor's original purpose in coming to the U.S. See our Transferring Schools page for more information.

6. Never Work Off-campus Without Prior Authorization

Employment opportunities for international students in the U.S. are restricted by law. In general there are two types of employment: on-campus and off-campus employment.

  • On-campus Employment: Enrolled J-1 students holding a DS-2019 from UM are permitted to work on campus for 20 hours per week during academic year and 40 hours per week during summer and winter breaks. If your DS-2019 was produced by another agency, that agency must give you permission to work on the UM campus. The OIS must first approve of your on-campus employment before you begin these activities.
  • Off-campus Employment: Off-campus employment is any type of work or services performed in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food or any other benefit that is not on the UM campus. An authorization letter is required before any off-campus work is allowed. The authorization letter must be written by the institution or agency who produced your DS-2019.

Off-campus Employment Options for J-1 Students:

  • Academic Training
    J-1 students in degree program are permitted an overall limit of 18 months academic training within their field of study. For postdoctoral training the overall limit is 36 months. See Academic Training for more information.
  • Economic Hardship
    If a J-1 student needs employment during the academic year due to financial hardship arising from unforeseen circumstances, the program sponsor may authorize it. Such employment cannot interfere with full-time pursuit of the exchange visitor's program objectives. Written permission from the program sponsor is required for on-campus as well as off-campus work.

7. Notify the OIS When You Leave the United States or Change Visa Status

When you finish your program and leave the U.S. permanently or change to another visa status (for instance if an employer plans to do an H-1B visa application for you after you graduate), please notify the OIS.

8. Traveling Outside the United States

Please visit our Travel Information page.