J-1 Maintenance of Status
As a J-1 international exchange student studying in the U.S., you must comply with U.S. Department of State and USCIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services) regulations. Students must be careful not to jeopardize their legal status. Consequences for a J-1 student who fails to maintain legal status can be serious. The illegal Immigration & Reform Act of 1996 increases the importance of maintaining legal status by imposing 3 or 10 year bans on reentering the U.S. for certain violations.
To maintain valid J-1 status:
- Report to the Office of International Student Enrollment (BSC 232) at the beginning of each semester, and complete a Student Data Sheet. Your initial registration in SEVIS is dependant on your reporting to the office as required. For your first term at Muskingum, reporting is through the immigration session during International Orientation, or by special appointment.
- Maintain a valid passport,DS-2019 and I-94 marked D/S (for "duration of status") at all times. The definition of J-1 duration of status is the period specified on the Form DS-2019 plus a grace period of 30 days for travel after the end of your program.
- Attend the school you are authorized to attend, as stated on your Form DS-2019.
- Take at least 12 credit hours of classes per semester. A few revisions to this requirement are possible with the permission of the RO/ARO. (See the Office of International Enrollment for details).
- If you wish to stay for an additional semester, apply for an extension of program before the expiration (completion) date on your DS-2019.
- Refrain from on or off campus work without written authorization from the Office of International Enrollment. This is very important! Unauthorized employment is a violation of program status, and the participant is subject to termination when he or she engages in unauthorized employment. Discuss any employment options with the Office of International Enrollment before accepting a job offer.
- If authorized by the RO/ARO to work on campus, limit employment to 20 hours per week during the regular semester.
- Report ANY change of physical address to the RO within 10 days of the change; this includes a change in dormitory rooms, or any other change of your permanent sleeping arrangements, even if it does not change your mailing address. SEVIS must be updated to reflect your actual living space. This address requirement is treated very seriously, and an exchange visitor who fails to submit change of current U.S. address is considered to be in violation of the Exchange Visitor Program regulations and is not eligible for reinstatement.
- Remain in the US for no longer than 30 days after the program of study ends, or the date listed on the DS-2019.
- Obtain health insurance which meets Department of State requirements, and maintain this insurance throughout the entire period of program participation. Muskingum College requires exchange students to be on the Muskingum plan, which does meet the Department of State requirements, but you may also carry additional insurance from your home country.
- File US tax return forms for each calendar year in which you are in the US ( a tax workshop is given every spring by the Coordinator of International Student Services, and you are strongly encouraged to attend).
Remember, although the RO and AROs on campus can help you understand the regulations, it is legally up to you to know, understand, and follow the regulations regarding your status in the US. You may read the written regulations governing the J program online from the US Department of State website.