Maintaining Legal Status

Students entering the United States using a DS-2019 Form should be admitted in J-1 Exchange Visitor status. There are specific regulations governing Exchange Visitors, and J-1 students are legally responsible for maintaining their own status by understanding and complying with these regulations. If you have any questions regarding your immigration status, please consult with your IS Advisor.

Upon arrival in the United States, J-1 students should verify that their documents were properly processed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector at the border.  At the port of entry, the immigration inspector should inspect the DS-2019 and return it to the student. The inspector should also inspect the passport with the J-1 visa (if applicable), issue an admission stamp, write "J-1/DS", and return the passport to the student.  After entry, the student should verify that the entry was properly recorded electronically at  A copy of this electronic entry record should be printed for the student's records after each entry to the U.S.   Keep these documents in a safe and accessible place during your stay in the United States.

Students with a J-1 entry visa should be aware that their program sponsor (the organization that issued the DS-2019 Form) is responsible for advising them about all immigration concerns. The program sponsor may be Georgetown University or another sponsoring agency such as the Institute of International Education (Fulbright) or the Organization of American States (OAS).

To maintain legal J-1 status, students must:

  • Report to the Office of Global Services (OGS) in order to activate their SEVIS record after the initial entry in J-1 status. This is a two-step process:
    • Check in with OGS for an Immigration Document Review 
    • Attend mandatory Immigration & Compliance Session
  • Register as full-time students every semester (except summer). Full time for undergraduates is a minimum of 12 credit hours each term. Graduate students must be registered for nine credit hours or Thesis Research (or a combination of credits and thesis research). On a case by case basis, using guidelines set forth by the DHS, an IS Advisor may authorize a J-1 student to enroll in less than a full course of study. Obtain written approval from the IS Advisor for a reduced course load before actually dropping below the minimum credit hour requirement. J-1 students should not depend on their professors or academic advisors for information about immigration regulations and/or course load requirements, as immigration regulations take precedence over academic policies;
  •  Engage in employment or internships (on or off campus) only with written authorization from their sponsor and no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session. Students may engage in full-time work (over 20 hours per week) during official school breaks and vacations. Authorization must be obtained prior to the start of the employment or internship;
  • Apply to their program sponsor for any extension of stay before the DS-2019 Form expires. The extension must be completed before the program end date on the DS-2019 Form. J-1 students must submit all paperwork relating to an extension to the IS Advisor at least ten days in advance of the program end date;
  • Notify their sponsor with any change in their academic program, including a change in program level or major, a leave of absence, a transfer, suspension, or program termination;
  • Maintain health insurance for themselves and any dependents in J-2 status. The insurance policy must meet the minimum requirements; and
  • Report any change of address within ten days of moving via MyAccess for current students or via the Address Update Form for students on post-completion Academic Training.