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The J-1 visa is for non-immigrants to come to the U.S. for teaching, studying, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills or receiving training. After being accepted by the university and receiving a Form DS-2019 from the sponsor, it is possible to apply for a J-1 visa from an American consulate abroad. To be admitted to the U.S., it is necessary to have both the DS-2019 and the J-1 visa stamp. After being admitted to the U.S., the student is eligible to stay in the U.S. for the amount of time listed on the DS-2019 plus 30 days to depart.

J-1 visa regulations require students to:

a. Have a valid passport
b. Attend the school stated on the DS-2019
c. Enroll in a full course of study (12 credits for undergraduate, 9 credits for graduate) and make reasonable progress towards a degree
d. Follow certain procedures for: extension of stay, change of level, and institution transfer
e. Limit employment to 20 hours per week while school is in session, 40 hours otherwise
f. Refrain from unauthorized employment
g. Report address changes within 10 days of the change
h. Maintain required health insurance

If any of these regulations are not followed and permission for an exception has not been granted, the student will be considered "out of status" and in violation of visa obligations.

There are certain benefits of being "in status": employment, program extension, transfer of program, academic training. None of these are possible while not in status. It is very important to remain in status to avoid difficulties in the future. If a student should get out of status, it is very important to contact the Responsible Officer (RO) to remedy the situation as soon as possible.

Transfer of Program
It is possible for a J-1 student to transfer to another program sponsor if the purpose is to complete the objective of the student's exchange program. The transfer is made through correspondence between RO's at the two involved institutions and notification to the Department of State through SEVIS. This process may be begun by meeting with an ISSS advisor.

Program Extension Procedures
You are eligible for an extension of stay if:

1. you are studying full-time at the institution listed on your Form DS-2019;
2. you can demonstrate funding for the period of your extension;
3. you are making satisfactory progress towards the completion of your educational program; or you are participating in an authorized academic training program
4. You must maintain health insurance during the remaining time you need
5. UMSL must be your sponsoring J-1 Exchange Visitor program

You are not eligible for a program extension if any of the following applies.

a. you have not been studying full-time or making satisfactory progress toward degree completion
b. your need for more time is due to incompletes, withdrawals, or failing grades
c. you have engaged in unauthorized employment or committed another violation of J-1 regulations
d. you have failed to maintain health insurance while in the U.S. in J-1 status.

When to Extend and Procedures for Filing Extension Your permission to stay in the U.S. ends 30 days after the date shown in item #3 of your Form DS-2019. It is essential that you submit your application for an extension at least 15 days prior to the expiration of your Form DS-2019. You will need to bring the following items to the office:

  1. A completed J-1 Extension Request form (MS Word version, PDF version) from your academic or faculty advisor explaining your need for an extension and your estimated completion date;

  2. Copies of all previously issued Forms DS-2019 or Forms IAP-66.

Traveling After an Extension After you have extended your stay in the US, avoid a common mistake. If you travel abroad, do not assume that with an approved extension of stay you can reenter this country from another continent with an expired J-1 visa stamp in your passport. If your J-1 visa stamp is expired, you will have to apply at a consulate for a new one in order to reenter the US as a J-1 Exchange Visitor.

Important Note Extension of your permission to stay is your responsibility. If you forget the deadline and apply late, you risk denial. If you are employed and overlook the date, you will be working illegally. Because such mistakes can have serious consequences, you should make certain that you apply well in advance (one month is recommended) if you need to extend your stay.

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