Maintaining Legal Status
Students entering the United States using a Form DS-2019 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 dedicated IS Advisor.
The U.S. government considers students who violate J-1 regulations “out of status.” Penalties for violating status can be serious and may affect not only a student’s entire academic career but also future applications for U.S. visas or other immigration benefits.
1. Verify Documents Upon Arrival.
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 the I-94 Official Website and verify the I-94 Record states “J-1/DS”.
- Print a copy for your records after each entry to the United States
- Email 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 Form DS-2019) 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).
2. Report to OGS in order to activate their SEVIS record. This is a two-step process:
- Complete Immigration Document Review in the International Student Portal Account.
- Attend the mandatory IGO or I-NSO activities.
3. Register as full-time students every semester (except summer). Any reduction in the full-time courseload must have prior approval from OGS.
- Undergraduates should enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours each term.
- Graduate students must be registered for the full-time normative courseload on file with the U.S. government and the Graduate School of record
- Graduate students registered for Thesis Research (or a combination of credits and thesis research) also meet the full course of study requirement
Taking less than a full course of study can only be authorized on a case by case basis by an IS Advisor. Please email your IS Advisor to start this lengthy process.
4. 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 working 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.
5. Apply to their program sponsor for any extension of stay before the Form DS-2019 expires.
All paperwork relating to an extension must be submitted by email to the IS Advisor at least ten days in advance of the program end date
6. 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.
7. Notify your IS Advisor before planning to be outside the United States for more than 30 days*.
Consult with your IS Advisor before making plans for study abroad, thesis research abroad, or any trip outside of the United States that lasts more than 30 days*. In accordance with the Department of State (DoS) J-1 guidelines:
- OGS must end the student’s J-1 status and SEVIS record.
- J-2 dependents must depart the United States, as they may not remain in the United States without the J-1 student.
*Note: The annual winter break and summer vacation are exceptions to this rule.