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J-1 Immigration Information for Students

Most J-1 Exchange Visitors at UNC are exchange students, but some of our J-1 students are degree seekers, and the information may vary slightly from category to category.

  • Maintaining Status

    Maintaining your J status means following the rules of the J-1 visa category (and helping any J-2 dependents follow the urles of the J-2 category).

  • Keep your Documents Valid

    Maintain a valid passport at all times while you are inside the United States.

    Make sure that your I-94 record indicates J-1 status and that you may stay for D/S (duration of status), and upload a copy in UNC Global.

    Make sure your DS-2019 is accurate and up to date at all times.  Make sure to get a signature to travel outside the U.S. if you are planning to return to complete your program at UNC.

  • Expectations of a J-1 Exchange Visitor
    • Enroll full time, in face to face classes every term. At least 12 credits for undergraduate students
    • Request a reduced course load from UNC Global if you are ill or need academic assistance
    • Maintain health insurance the ENTIRE TIME you are in the US
    • Participate in Cultural Activities and report in UNC Global

    • Any kind of employment -- on campus, off campus, internships, and training -- requires authorization from  your J-1 Program Sponsor (the organization that issued your DS-2019)

  • Cultural Engagement Requirement

    Voluntary participation for the purpose of sharing the language, culture, or history of your home country with Americans, and learning about American culture are a critical feature of the J-1 Exchange Visitor program.  We are required to report participation in these activities to the Department of State. 

    We report on our Exchange Visitor engagement at UNC, and ask that you plan to attend at least a couple of UNC events each semester.  Some options include:

    • UNC Cultural Exchange/CIE Events
    • Arts and Culture (theater, art exhibit, dance performance, music concert)
    • Sports and Leisure
    • Academic Scholarship and Research
    • Share your culture and speak at various UNC events, or organize an event with a student club or organization or with CIE

    We ask that you report events you attended in UNC Global (Exchange Visitor Cultural Activity Report).   Photos, testimonials, comments and suggestions are welcome!

  • 212(e) - Two Year Home Residency

    The purpose of the Exchange Visitor program is to provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the United States and return home to share their experiences, and to encourage Americans to participate in educational and cultural programs in other countries. Depending on our home country or country of most recent residence and whether or not you receive government funding for your program, you may be subject to a requirement to spend at least two years in your home country before returning to the U.S. in an immigrant status.

    The information should appear on both your DS-2019 (the one from your visa appointment) and/or on your J-1 visa.  Keep in mind that they may have different information on the two documents.  CIE can help you determine if you are subject or not, but so can reading the Skills List for your home country (or country of most recent residence): https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2009/04/30/E9-9657/2009-revised-exchange-visitor-skills-list

  • Travel

    Notify CIE of any planned travel outside of Colorado during your program

    Within the US, you should carry copies of your passport, I-94, and DS-2019 to prove legal presence.

    If you're traveling outside the US with intention to return in same visa category and complete your program, bring (and carry in your hand luggage -- not your checked bags!): valid passport, valid visa for your destination (if required for you) and valid visa for U.S. return in correct category, DS-2019 with valid travel signature (request via UNC Global if you need a signature).  We also recommend bringing proof of financial support, and other documents that show financial support and engagement in your classes (transcript or schedule, for instance).

  • Incident Reporting

    As a a J-1 Program Sponsor, UNC is required to report specific kinds of incidents involving -1 exchange visitors to the Department of State.

    • Situations endangering health, safety or welfare
    • Death, missing person, severe injury or illness
    • Litigation (law suits)
    • Arrest, charges, law enforcement issues
    • Sexually-related incidents or abuse
    • Negative press
    • Foreign government involvement
    • Natural disasters, civil unrest, violence, etc.

    If you experience or are part of an incident that might fit into one of these categories (or something similar), please reach out to CIE right away.  This is to protect the program and our Exchange Visitor participants, NOT to get you in trouble. 

  • End of Program

    When you complete your program (usually the last day of classes in your last term, but may include Academic Training activities), you have a 30 day "grace period" to pack up, travel within the U.S., and depart the United States.  If you depart the U.S. during your grace period, your J-1 program is over, and you cannot re-enter in the same category.

  • Training and Employment (Academic Training)

    Additional details on AT at UNC

    ELIGIBILITY
    1. Training must begin no later than 30-days after the completion of your program.
    2. Apply at least 2 weeks before you plan to begin Training and no later than 2 weeks before the end of your program.
    3. The proposed employment must be directly related to your major field of study.
    4. Throughout your AT you must maintain permission to stay in the United States, in J-1 student status, and apply for extensions as necessary.
    5. You must maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and J-2 dependents throughout your AT.

    LIMITATION
    1. Duration of employment can be up to the length of your program not to exceed 18 months.
    2. "Post-doctoral training," may last as long as 36 months.
    3. Part-time employment for AT counts against the limits as if it were full-time employment.
    4. All periods of AT are cumulative.

    General Conditions 22 CFR 62.23(f)3)

    (3) Criteria.

    (i) The student is primarily in the United States to study rather than engage in academic training;

    (ii) The student is participating in academic training that is directly related to his or her major field of study at the post-secondary accredited academic institution listed on his or her Form DS-2019;

    (iii) The student is in good academic standing with the post-secondary accredited academic institution; and

    (iv) The student receives written approval in advance from the responsible officer for the duration and type of academic training.

    Additional conditions are set out in the requirement for a letter from an academic dean or advisor documenting how the training relates to the student's major field of study and how the training is integral or critical part of the student's academic program under 22 CFR 62.23(f)(5)(i)

    (i) The student must present to the responsible officer a letter of recommendation from the student's academic dean or advisor setting forth:

    (A) The goals and objectives of the specific academic training program;

    (B) A description of the academic training program, including its location, the name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours per week, and dates of the training;

    (C) How the academic training relates to the student's major field of study; and

    (D) Why it is an integral or critical part of the academic program of the student.

    Proceedures for authorizing AT are specificed in 22 CFR 62.23(f)(5)

    (5) Procedures. To obtain authorization to engage in academic training:

    (i) The student must present to the responsible officer a letter of recommendation from the student's academic dean or advisor setting forth:

    (A) The goals and objectives of the specific academic training program;

    (B) A description of the academic training program, including its location, the name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours per week, and dates of the training;

    (C) How the academic training relates to the student's major field of study; and

    (D) Why it is an integral or critical part of the academic program of the student.

    (ii) The responsible officer must:

    (A) Determine if and to what extent the student has previously participated in academic training as a student, in order to ensure the student does not exceed the period permitted in paragraph (f) of this section;

    (B) Review the letter of recommendation required in paragraph (f)(5)(i) of this section; and

    (C) Make a written determination of whether the academic training currently being requested is warranted and the criteria and time limitations set forth in paragraph (f)(3) and (4) of this section are satisfied.

    Academic Training (Guidance Directive from the US Department of State)

    Department-designated sponsors of college and university students participating in academic training are expected to support academic training that is directly related to the exchange visitor’s major field of study at the post-secondary accredited academic institution listed on his or her Form DS-2019 (22 C.F.R. §62.23(f)(3)(ii)). In addition, in order to qualify for academic training, a proposed placement must be an integral or critical part of the student’s academic program (22 C.F.R. §62.23(f)(5)(i)(D)). In the spirit of these regulatory provisions, an academic training program should consist of bona fide training activities that are connected to a substantial academic framework, and are designed to expose participants to the operations of their field.

    Sponsors should ensure that College and University Student placements in academic training prioritize academic objectives and are not driven by the labor needs of a host organization (fn 1 A host organization in this case is the site of activity at which the exchange visitor will conduct his or her academic training under the direct supervision of an individual other than the Responsible Officer or an Alternate Responsible Officer). The Department has observed academic training placements in which exchange visitors worked as hourly food servers, bussers, and pool attendants. These positions have lacked the academic rigor the Department expects to see in academic training programs, and appeared to be driven by the labor needs of the host organization. Although it does not apply to the College and University Student category of the Exchange Visitor Program, sponsors may wish to refer to Appendix E to 22 C.F.R. Part 62 (Unskilled Occupations) for illustrative examples of positions the Department has deemed, in other contexts, to be unskilled placements.

    Within an academic training placement, the Department expects that non-substantive or unskilled activities, taken together, will not constitute a substantial portion of the placement. Therefore, we encourage sponsors to seek primarily substantive roles (e.g., shadowing managers, participating in project design, management, or event planning) that involve no more than infrequent non-substantive tasks (e.g., housekeeping, bussing tables, serving food). Some sponsors have included rotation systems in their academic training placements, but a rotation system in which the exchange visitor would work largely or entirely on non-substantive tasks (including by rotating through different nonsubstantive tasks) would not be in keeping with the Department's expectations for academic training. Sponsors should be prepared to provide evidence of time spent by an exchange visitor on substantive and non-substantive tasks upon the Department's request. See 22 C.F.R. §62.10(e).