Maintaining J-1 Student Status

Learn more about J-1 student status and how to maintain it.

What does it mean to be in J-1 Student status?

  • You entered the U.S. with a J-1 visa (under the Student category) (or, if Canadian, used a DS-2019 to enter the U.S.)


  • You entered the U.S. with a different visa, and subsequently applied for and were granted a change-of-status to J-1 by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).

THEREFORE, your primary purpose for being in the U.S. is to study. 

How do I remain in lawful J-1 Student status?

To maintain your J-1 Student status, you must comply with ALL of the following requirements:

Keep your passport valid at all times

  • While you are in the U.S., you must always have a valid passport. 

Maintain a valid and accurate DS-2019

  • Check section 3 of your DS-2019.  The date of expected completion of studies must not have passed.  If the expiration date is approaching and you have not finished your program, you must apply for an Extension of Stay before the expiration date.
Final Semester UB Registrar Degree Conferral Date
I-20 Program End Date
Spring June 1 June 1
Summer August 31 August 31
Fall February 1 January 1
Winter February 1 February 1
  • If there are changes to your information or you need a reprinted DS-2019 for a reason other than travel you can request an updated I-20 on UB Global using the "DS-2019 Reprint Request" e-form.
  • To re-enter the U.S., you must have a valid travel signature in the Travel Validation section of your DS-2019.  The travel signature should be renewed every year.  
    • Only (Alternate) Responsible Officers (A/RO’s) can sign your DS-2019.
    • For more information visit our page on travel.

Attend the school you are authorized to attend

  • This means that you must report to the school whose DS-2019 you used to enter the U.S. or to which your last school transfer was authorized.

Always study full-time and make normal progress toward your degree

  • Register for 12 credit hours each semester.
  • Summer and Winter term do not require enrollment unless it is your first semester or final semester.
    • Full-time enrollment for Summer is 6 credits.
    • Full-time enrollment for Winter is 3 credits.    
    • Summer specifics:
      • If you were admitted to start a degree program during a summer session, you are required to enroll full-time during the first session in which you were admitted (6 credits in the same session).
      • If summer is not your first or final semester enrollment is optional.
      • If summer is your final semester, you must register for at least 6 credits during summer.
  • Register for 9 credit hours each semester if you are a graduate student who holds an assistantship.
  • Register for 1 or more credit hours each semester if you have Certification of Full-time Status from the Graduate School (409 Capen Hall, North Campus) while working full-time on a doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis, project, portfolio, or comprehensive exam.
  • Do not drop, resign, or withdraw courses so that you are no longer registered for a full course load. An academic withdrawal approved after a semester has ended will result in a status violation.

FTC vs RCL: What's the Difference?

Full-Time Certification (FTC) Reduced Course Load (RCL)
If you are a graduate student near the end of your program you may be eligible. Contact your department’s graduate coordinator (before the semester begins) to see if you qualify. If you qualify, you will file a form with your academic department and the Graduate School. If you are an F-1 student who meets the eligibility requirements for one of the three types of Reduced Course loads, you may apply for this benefit through ISS.

Limited exceptions to the Full-time Enrollment requirement exists. Visit the Reduced Course Load page for more information.

Do not exceed the online study limitations

J-1 Exchange Visitors may engage in a maximum of one online course per semester.  All other courses taken by a J-1 student, in a required semester, must be coded as one of the following:

  • In-person (P)
  • Hybrid (HY)

Notify UB of any change of address, telephone number, or email address through the HUB Student Center

  • You must notify ISS of changes within 10 days of the change.  
  • ISS will then notify the Department of Homeland Security.  If you are on Academic Training, you must report any changes in address, telephone number, email address, or employment details to ISS by emailing

Maintain adequate health insurance for yourself and your dependents for the duration of your J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

Request appropriate work authorization before accepting any employment. Never work without proper employment authorization

  • J-1 students are required to have written authorization from an Alternate Responsible Officer before they are permitted to work on-campus.  Prior to your employment start date, submit a letter from your employer confirming your employment details (start date, end date, location, number of hours per week, supervisor’s name and contact information).  ISS will review the letter and, if it is acceptable, enter your on-campus employment authorization in SEVIS.
  • Any off-campus employment must meet the requirements for Academic Training and you must obtain Academic Training authorization prior to starting employment.
  • Employment authorization due to unforeseen economic circumstances is possible only in certain “serious, urgent and unforeseen” situations.  Request an appointment with an International Student Advisor in ISS to discuss your situation.

Provide ISS with the e-mail address(es) of any J-2 dependent(s)

Notify ISS if your J-2 dependents depart the U.S. permanently prior to your departure

Comply with all of U.S. federal and state laws

Comply with all University at Buffalo academic and conduct policies

J-1 students have a 30-day grace period upon completion of studies to depart the U.S., or transfer to a new school (if eligible).

Important Reminder

If you apply for a waiver of the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement (INA 212e), and your waiver is recommended in writing by the U.S. Department of State (“No Objection Statement”) or you receive Form I-612 from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you are no longer eligible for any J-1 benefits (DS-2019 Extension, Academic Training, SEVIS Transfer, etc.). Therefore, please consult with ISS before applying for the waiver. Since 212(e) waiver applications can be complex, we also recommend that you seek assistance from an experienced immigration attorney.

Violation of Status

Failure to comply with these requirements is a violation of your J-1 status, which may result in serious consequences, including the termination of your SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) record, accrual of unlawful presence, your inability to re-enter the U.S., and your detention and deportation from the U.S.  Please direct all questions regarding your J-1 student status to ISS.