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J-1 Visa - Frequently Asked Questions


Are the eligibility requirements the same for the F-1 and J-1 categories?

No, to be eligible for J-1 student status, you must have funding, at least at first that comes substantially from any source other than personal or family funds, in the words of the regulation. Otherwise, to be eligible for J-1 status, you must participate in an exchange program formally established by a written agreement between governments, or between the University and a foreign government or institution. Thus if your funding comes from your own resources or from your family, and you will not be participating in an exchange program, you will be ineligible for J-1 status, and will have no choice but to come as an F-1.


Can I change my status, from F-1 to J-1, or from J-1 to F-1, after my arrival in the U.S.?

Probably not. Some changes are prohibited by regulations, and others are possible only in very special circumstances. As an alternative to changing inside the U.S., it is sometimes possible to go home, obtain a new visa stamp in the other category, and reenter in the new status. Even if you go all the way home, though, the consulate may refuse to give you the category of visa that you want.

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Which status is recommended, F-1 or J-1?

No recommendations are made. Most Universities will follow your preference as long as you are eligible for it.


Will both the F-1 and the J-1 categories give me enough time to finish my degree program?

Both will allow you to remain in the U.S. for as long as your academic program requires, provided that you maintain full-time registration in that program, and, if necessary, that you apply for extensions before the date of expected completion shown on your visa document. Note, however, that if you hold J-1 status from an agency rather than from the University itself, that agency will have full authority to impose time limits.

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