Skip to main content

Background Image for Header:

J-1 Students

J-1 Visa and J-1 Status

The “J” visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. The J-1 Student Visa will allow you to stay in the United States for the duration of your program (designed in your DS-2019). In order for prospective students to obtain this type of visa, they will have to show evidence that after completing studies, the individual will return to the country of their permanent residence.

After the student is admitted, the student must request a Form DS-2019 (using the link in their admission letter). After receiving a complete request, a DS-2019 is mailed directly to the student. (Be sure to read the entire DS-2019 before signing the first page.) The student will then pay the I-901 SEVIS fee. Once the fee has been paid and the student has a receipt of payment, the Form DS-2019 is then used to apply for a J-1 visa from an American embassy or consulate abroad. 

To be admitted to the US, it is necessary to have the Form DS-2019, a valid J-1 visa, and a valid passport. After being admitted to the US, the student is then eligible to stay in the US for “duration of status” (D/S on the Forms I-94 and the Form DS-2019). Duration of status (or to be “in status”) means the time during which the student is in compliance with J-1 regulations. Upon completion of studies, the student has an additional 30-days grace period to depart the US.

Full-time Enrollment

To maintain in good standing with your student status at WVU you must take at least 12 credit/hours per semester at the undergraduate level and meet all the WVU requirements. At the graduate level full course of study is defined by your college but usually 9 credit/hours per semester. (Please note that if the student begins during the summer semester, they must also be enrolled full-time.) 

Permission to register less than full-time ( Reduced Course Load) must be obtained through International Students and Scholars Services. Please note that your Academic Advisor must complete the form before we can complete this request.

Online Classes (Distance Education) Limits

No more than the equivalent of one  on-line/distance education class or 3 credits per session/semester may count towards the “full course of study” requirement per semester.


J-1 student status permits you to work on-campus with prior permission from ISSS for no more than 20 hours/week while school is in session and full-time during university breaks (winter, spring, summer). Off-campus employment is allowed with prior permission from ISSS during and/or after the completion of your studies in an “ Academic Training” position. 

Additional Information Concerning Worker's Rights

Know Your Rights (Wilberforce Pamphlet) from the Department of State. An information pamphlet describing your rights while working in the United States.

Extensions of DS-2019

If the student will not be able to complete their program by the program end date listed on their Form DS-2019, they will need to apply for a DS-2019 extension. Please note: A student  cannot apply for a DS-2019 extension  after their DS-2019 expires (after the program end date on the Form DS-2019).

To apply for a DS-2019 extension, the student will follow the link on the Requests page ( here). The student will need to upload a financial guarantee (less than 6 months old), passport, a letter from your Academic Advisor explaining why you need an extension, etc. and answer the questionnaires. Once we have reviewed your completed request, we will email you to pick up your newly updated DS-2019.

Change of Education Level (Matriculation)

If the student wants to change education levels (e.g. Bachelor’s degree to Master’s degree) while remaining at WVU, a new DS-2019 with the new educational program noted needs to be issued after the student has been admitted.
To apply for a new I-20, the student will need to follow the link in their new admission letter, upload the required documents (e.g. passport, financial guarantee, etc), answer the questionnaires (mark "yes" for Change of Education Level). Once we have reviewed your completed request, we will email you to pick up your newly updated I-20.

Please note: Federal regulations do not allow for students to move from the category "Student Non-Degree" to a degree-seeking student or vice versa. In addition, it is not possible to reverse matriculate (e.g. Masters to Bachelor's).

Travel Abroad & Return to the US

When preparing to travel abroad it is important to ensure entry to another country and re-entry to the U.S. Depending on the country to be visited and the student’s nationality, there may be the need to apply for a visitor’s visa. In order to return to the U.S., a student must have a valid passport, a valid visa and a valid DS-2019 that is signed by an ISSS Staff member within the past year.

In order to return to the U.S., a student must have:

  • a valid passport - Check your passport expiration date. Make sure it will not expire sooner than six months from your re-entry date. If your passport expires in less than six months, it is crucial that you renew your passport in the US through a consulate or embassy before traveling, or renew it while you’re back in your country of citizenship (if home for a long enough period). 
  • a valid U.S visa - Check your visa expiration date. If the J-1 visa foil in your passport will expire before your intended re-entry date to the U.S., you’ll need to obtain a new visa to re-enter the US. Please see ISSS if you need a new DS-2019.
  • a current/valid DS-2019 - Carry your most recent original DS-2019 that is signed by an ISSS Staff member (ARO) for the most recent semester.  Please note: If you are not in the Morgantown area to get your I-20 signed in person and you have enough time to mail it to us for a travel signature, you can mail it to the address at the bottom of the web page. Be sure to include a self-addressed, "stamped" envelope as you are responsible for paying for the return shipping charges.
  • verification of enrollment - a copy of enrolled courses
  • proof of I-901 SEVIS fee payment - You can find this at
  • Financial Verification - Financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses 
  • been out of the U.S. for less than 5 months
  • contact information for ISSS - (304) 293-3519
If you are not in the Morgantown area to get your DS-2019 signed in person and you have enough time to mail it to us for a travel signature, you can mail it to the address at the bottom of the web page. Be sure to include a self-addressed, "stamped" envelope as you are responsible for paying for the return shipping charges.

A rrival/Departure Form (I-94)

Paper Form I-94

If you have a paper Form I-94, regulations require that those individuals holding non-immigrant (temporary) visa status turn their I-94 arrival/departure record card when leaving the U.S. if you have an I-94 that was attached in your passport. Failure to do that will result in the departure not being recorded properly in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) system and the individual being regarded as overstaying his/her authorized stay. This can have serious consequences on future entry into the U.S.

Online Form I-94

The issuance of I-94 arrival/departure record cards is now electronic for air and sea travelers. Once a student enters the U.S, a paper I-94 card will not be issued at the point of entry (for air and sea travelers). Students will have to access the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website to print out the paper copy of their I-94 card for their records. The Form I-94 is required for processing social security cards and Driver Licenses. To obtain your I-94, you can visit CBP's website here ( I-94 website), click on "get most recent I-94," enter your passport information, and print.

More information concerning the Form I-94 can be found on the  CBP website.

For complete information on the Exchange Visitor Program click here. Please remember to bring your DS-2019 to ISSS at least two weeks before you leave the U.S. so that we can make sure that your DS-2019 has been signed within a year of your intended return to the U.S.