J-1 Exchange Visitors - Students

It is important that all J-1 students understand and abide by the immigration regulations as outlined below.

Entering the U.S.

To enter the US you will need the following:

  • A valid passport
  • An EMU issued DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility.
      • Students who are studying at EMU on a government-sponsored grant (for example, Fulbright) should have EMU listed as the primary site of activity on their DS-2019.
  • An I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • A valid J-1 visa (the visa stamp in your passport) issued by the U.S. embassy/consulate overseas
      • Canadian citizens do not need U.S. visas.

Please be advised that you may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the start date in the DS-2019.
When you enter the U.S., you will receive an I-94 card marked "J-1" and "D/S" (duration of status). Please enter your name on the I-94 card exactly as it appears on your US visa.

Mandatory Check-in and Orientation

All new students are required to check in with the OISS (240 Student Center) prior to the start date on your DS-2019 or within five business days of your arrival, as required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. EMU also provides a mandatory international student orientation program to assist you with settling in at EMU.

Maintaining Legal J-1 Status

Maintaining status is necessary in order to receive the benefits of J-1 status such as employment and program extension, and can be crucial to a successful application for a change or adjustment of visa status in the future. Failure to maintain your non-immigrant status can result in serious problems and could lead to deportation from the US.

There are several important things students must do to maintain their immigration status:

  • Attend the university on whose DS-2019 you entered the US or complete the appropriate school transfer procedures
  • Complete the mandatory check-in process and attend the mandatory international student orientation
  • Keep your passport valid at least 6 months into the future, at all times
  • Maintain full-time enrollment, attend classes and make normal progress toward your degree
    • Undergraduate (bachelor's) students: minimum of 12 credit hours per term
    • Graduate students: minimum eight credit hours per term
    • Graduate assistants: minimum eight credit hours per term
    • Students may choose not to enroll during the spring and/or summer terms, unless it is your first term at EMU
    • All J-1 students are allowed to only count one online course per term toward full-time status
    • If you are unable to be enrolled and attending classes full-time, you must have prior approval from an OISS advisor. See the reduced hours form for additional information.
    • Be in good academic standing and making progress towards your degree. Suspension, dismissal or other similar action may affect your immigration status.
    • Courses in which you have a grade of Incomplete (I) or In-progress (IP) do not count towards your full-time enrollment credits
    • Courses taken at another college or university (concurrent/guest enrollment [PDF]) can be used to meet up to 50% of your full-time credit requirements during the fall and winter terms
  • Notify OISS of any change in either your local or permanent address at my.emich.edu. All J-1 students must update their my.emich addresses within 10 days of a change of address. The OISS will notify the Department of Homeland Security, through the SEVIS system, of your new address. If EMU did not issue your DS-2019, you are required to report any address changes to your sponsor (for example, IIE for Fulbrighters).
  • Maintain a valid, unexpired DS-2019 at all times. This includes correct education level, major, current funding sources and correct personal data.
  • Extend your DS-2019 [PDF] prior to its end date if you are unable to complete your program by the original expiration date using the Extension of Stay form.
    • Notify OISS of any authorized change of major when displayed in the my.emich system
    • Notify OISS of any graduate assistant awards or scholarships, by providing us a copy of the award letter
  • Only work with proper authorization. J-1 students are permitted to work on campus up to a maximum of 20 hours/week during fall and winter terms. See employment information for additional details.

You must notify OISS when:

  • There are changes in either your local or home country permanent address, telephone number and email address
  • Changes in any information on your DS-2019
  • You renew your passport or visa
  • You receive a new I-94 card
  • You are not enrolled in classes full-time

Maintain Health Insurance Coverage

All J-1 students and J-2 dependents are required to maintain health insurance coverage that meets the University and Department of State's standards. Information can be found on the Health Center website.

Dependents (J-2)

Dependents are defined as spouse and minor children less than 21 years of age. Each dependent will have their own DS-2019, which will be used to obtain their J-2 visa at the U.S. embassy/consulate and for entry into the US. Persons in J-2 status able to apply to the U.S. government for employment authorization and may engage in full-time study.

Grace Period

When an J-1 student completes their academic program or Academic Training, they are allowed a 30-day grace period during which the J-1 student and any J-2 dependents may stay within the U.S., but are not allowed to work or to re-enter the U.S. in J status.


J-1 students must file federal tax forms for every year they are inside the U.S., whether or not money was earned.

212(e) - Home Country Residency Requirement

This requirement states that if you have received funding from your home government or the U.S. government, or you are from a country on the U.S. Department of State "skills list", you may be subject to the Foreign Residency Requirement.

If you are subject to the requirement, you are unable to change your visa status in the United States. You are also unable to obtain an H, L or K visa or Permanent Status until you have spent an aggregate of two years in your home country. The requirement, however, does not prevent you from reentering the U.S. under other common visa categories, like F-student or B-tourist.

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