Entering the U.S. (DS-2019 and J-1 Visa)
You will need a form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitors), a valid J-1 visa (the visa page in your passport) issued by the U.S. embassy/consulate overseas*, a valid passport, and your SEVIS fee receipt to enter the U.S. as a J-1 student. Please be advised that you may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the start date on your DS-2019. Your entry into the U.S. will be recorded electronically on form I-94 card and marked “J-1” and “D/S” (duration of status). You will need to print this out when you report into Shepherd.
*Please note that Canadian citizens do not need U.S. visas to enter the U.S; rather, they will present their form DS-2019 and other immigration documents at the port of entry.
Maintaining Legal J-1 Status
As an J-1 student, you must meet certain obligations in order to maintain legal immigration status and to receive the benefits of J-1 status, such as employment and program extension, and to be eligible for a change or adjustment of status in the future. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can result in serious problems with immigration and could lead to deportation from the U.S. Due to the complexity of U.S. immigration regulations, we recommend that you consult with International Student Affairs anytime you have questions or concerns related to your J-1 status.
To maintain lawful status, a J-1 student must:
- Attend the university you are authorized to attend (i.e. Shepherd University, the school that issued your Form DS-2019);
- Attend the mandatory immigration check-in program with International Student Affairs;
- Be in good academic standing, maintain full-time enrollment and make reasonable progress towards fulfilling your academic purpose/program. (Undergraduate students must enroll for a minimum of 12 credit hours each semester and graduate students must enroll for a minimum of 9 credit hours or be in approved full-time thesis study each semester. “Audit” courses do not count toward the full-time enrollment requirement.)
- Extend your DS-2019 prior to its expiration date if you are unable to complete your academic program by the original completion date;
- Update your DS-2019 in a timely manner in the event of a change in your academic program or level;
- Limit on-campus employment to 20 hours per week during the academic year.
- Do not work off campus without prior authorization.
- Maintain health insurance coverage.
- Keep your passport valid at all times.
- Notify International Student Affairs when leaving the University at the end of your studies.
- Maintain valid addresses for home (outside the US) and mailing (local US). Addresses must be updated within 10 days of moving.
When a J-1 student successfully completes his/her academic program or subsequent period of Academic Training, there is a 30-day grace period during which the J-1 student and any J-2 dependents may stay in the U.S. This allows for pleasure travel within the U.S. or preparations for departure. During this period the J-1 student may not work or travel internationally with the intent to reenter in J-1 status.
Students who leave their program for any reason prior to completion might not be eligible for a grace period. Consult with International Student Affairs if you have questions!