Maintaining J-1 Status

Maintaining J-1 Status

J-1 Exchange Visitor Student Status

The J-1 exchange visitor student status differs from the F-1 student status. A student is usually given a J-1 status if they are funded by a government entity, participating in an official exchange program, or are required by their scholarship/sponsor to study in the U.S.

At U.S. Consulates, J-1 students receive the Form DS-2019 to apply for their visa stamp. (F-1 students instead receive Form I-20.) 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, like ISEP or Fulbright, for the purpose of attending LSU. 

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) for both J-1 and F-1 students.

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 student in the US. To be able to not enroll for the summer semester, you must register full-time in the previous spring semester and again register full-time in the fall semester, unless fall is your graduation semester and you can enroll part-time.)

Full-time requirements:

  • Undergraduate students: 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 to drop to a part-time courseload must first consult with an IS advisor so that they can discuss any immigration concerns.

You must maintain a certain grade point average to be in good standing with the University, to make satisfactory academic progress as a student, and to meet USCIS/U.S. Department of State requirements. This requirement also applies to exchange students and to those who may not be taking LSU credits back to their home institutions for transfer.

Minimum GPA requirements:

  • Undergraduate students: 2.0
  • Graduate Students: 3.0

Students may wish to transfer to another institution to complete their studies or to pursue an advanced 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-1 students have to apply for the F-1 status outside the U.S. and at a U.S. Consulate.

LSU is willing to 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.

Some J-1 exchange visitor students may be subject to the 212(e) rule. This rule means that your home country requires you to return 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 U.S. to most other statuses. You may apply for the F-1 student visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy outside the U.S. for a new academic degree program. However, it is not guaranteed that you will be issued an F-1 visa to enter the U.S. to pursue another U.S. degree. If you are issued an F-1 visa, it does not eliminate the 212(e) requirement for you to return to your home country for 2 years; it merely postpones the requirement until after your F-1 program.

Part of being an exchange student may entail returning to your home country after the program and applying the knowledge and experience your have gained through the program there; this step 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 the requirement 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 the University to ask for a waiver of the 212(e) requirement.

The LSU University Registrar will alert International Services of any J-1 students who resign for the fall or spring semesters (or the summer semester, if summer is the student’s first semester at LSU). International Services is required to report the official resignation of the student in SEVIS. The resignation in 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 to request a new I-20/DS-2019 form to use to re-enter the U.S., to determine their eligibility, and to determine if any action for re-admission is necessary.

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 are determined by the program begin date on the student's new I-20/DS-2019 form.

  • 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 U.S. or to apply for a new status to remain in the U.S. (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 the 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.


Unlawful Presence

Students and scholars who are designated F- and J- non-immigrants (including dependents), who do not maintain status on or after August 9, 2018, and who remain in the U.S. begin to accrue unlawful presence on the day after the earliest of the following:

  • Remaining in the US after expiration of a date-specific I-94 record (US POE arrival/departure document)
    • Please note that F- and J- status holders currently do not have date specific I-94s. The expiration is “D/S," "Duration of Status."
  • Failing to pursue the course of study or the program objective of authorized activity
  • Engaging in unauthorized activity
  • Remaining in the US after completing the course of study, program, or practical training and any grace period
  • Being issued a removal order by an immigration judge or Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) 

Unlawful presence policies apply to all people who are designated non-immigrants. With some narrow exceptions, the USCIS Policy Memorandum Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants documents that F- and J- status holders will begin to accrue unlawful presence the day after a violation of status. Those who have accrued unlawful presence, departed the U.S., and returned to the U.S. may be subjected to a 3-year bar (if unlawfully present for 180 days but less than one year) or a 10-year bar (if unlawfully present for one consecutive year or more), upon their return.

There are other ways students and scholars can lose legal status, including working without authorization, not extending an I-20/DS-2019 (certificate/visa document) in a timely manner, enrolling below full time without authorization, not pursuing the original program objective, ceasing studies/activities without authorization and without departing the US as required, or accruing any violation of any applicable federal regulations. Thus, it is important for LSU F-1 and J-1 students and scholars to consult with advisors in International Services for any immigration matters. 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 unlawful presence policy, see the linked government resource