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 International Student (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.  

  • Passport has been issued an admission stamp with the date of entry and "J-1/DS"
  • Visit https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home and verify the I-94 information states "J-1/DS". 
  • Print a copy for your records after each entry to the U.S.  
  • Contact your IS Advisor if there are any errors

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. This is a two-step process:
    • Check in with OGS for an Immigration Document Review
    • Attend a mandatory Immigration & Compliance Session
  • Register as full-time students every semester (except summer).
    • Undergraduates should enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours each term.
    • Graduate students must be registered for 9 credit hours or Thesis Research (or a combination of credits and thesis research).
    • Taking less than a full course of study can only be authorized on a case by case basis by an IS Advisor. Please meet with your IS Advisor to start this lengthy process. 
  • Receive written authorization from your program sponsor before engaging in paid or unpaid employment/internships/fellowships/etc. (on or off campus).
    • Students are limited to 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.
  • Apply to their program sponsor for any extension of stay before the DS-2019 Form expires.
    • All paperwork  relating to an extension must be submitted 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 that meets the J-1 requirements for themselves and any dependents in J-2 status. 
  • 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.