F-1 vs J-1: Which Status is Right for You?

F-1 Status

F-1 is the most common visa status used by students in the U.S. and best fits a student's situation. Most international students at Tulane have F-1 status. See the Current F-1 Students website to find out more about the benefits and restrictions of the F-1 status.

J-1 Status

J-1 visa status is generally used for students in specific Tulane educational exchange programs, Fulbright, LASPAU, DAAD, AmidEast, USAID or others. It may also be used by the University for students in degree programs. To be eligible for a J-1, students must receive a majority of their financial support from sources other than personal funds. See the Current J-1 Students website to learn more about the benefits and restrictions of the J-1 student status. 

To be eligible for J-1 status, students must meet the following criteria:

  • 51% of the student’s total financial support comes from an institution or entity in the form of a scholarship, fellowship, assistantship, stipend, tuition waiver, or other direct support provided specifically for the educational program. Personal or family funds and loans or support from individuals do not qualify; or
  • The student’s participation in the academic program is financed directly or indirectly by: the United States government, the government of the student's home country, an international organization of which the United States is a member by treaty or statute; or
  • There is an agreement between your university and Tulane University; or
  • You are participating in a specific educational exchange program.

Comparison Between J-1 and F-1 Status


J-1 F-1

Any source of liquid financial support is acceptable.  (If qualifying reason for J-1 eligibility is 51% finances coming from sources other than personal, then that rule does apply.)

Must show financial support for the entire length of program when requesting the initial document.

Any source of liquid financial support is acceptable.

Must show financial support for the first year of the program when requesting the initial document.

Any employment on- or off-campus requires authorization from the program sponsor.


On-campus employment does not require authorization. 

Off-campus employment requires authorization from Tulane OISS.

Work authorization in the form of Academic Training is available for off campus jobs/internships related to your course of study. A job offer is required before requesting Academic Training.

  • Non-degree-seeking exchange visitor Academic Training matches the length of the program; however, the study period and Academic Training combined cannot exceed 24 months. 
  • For undergraduate and master's students, a maximum of 18 months of Academic Training may be used.
  • For doctoral students, a total of 36 months is possible. 

Off-campus work during the degree program reduces the total period of Academic Training available after program completion.


During your program, Curricular Practical Training is available for off campus jobs/internships related to your major course of study.

Optional Practical Training employment is available for 12 months. A job offer is not required for 12-Month OPT.

An OPT extension for an additional 24 months is possible for certain STEM majors.

J-2 dependents (spouse, child) can apply for work authorization through USCIS. Income from this employment cannot be used to document J-1 financing requirements. 

F-2 dependents (spouse, child) are not eligible for any work authorization.


J-2 dependents must have Tulane University Sponsored Health Insurance for the duration of the J-1's program.

While it is advisable for F-2 dependents to have health insurance, it is not required.

J-1 and J-2 dependents may be subject to the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement

J-1 and J-2 dependents may also be subject to the 12-Month Bar (see below) depending on the length of the J program.

*Note that the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement and 12-Month Bar are separate rules.

No Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement.

No 12-Month Bar.



J-2 dependents are eligible to study part-time or full-time in a degree or non-degree program in the U.S.

F-2 spouses and children may enroll in academic programs for less than a full course of study at an SEVP-approved school. (Check with the school and their international office to be sure enrollment is less than full-time.)

F-2 spouses and children can participate in studies that are "avocational or recreational in nature" (i.e., non-academic hobbies and recreational studies).

F-2 children may attend full-time elementary or secondary school (kindergarten-12th grade).


Long Term Implications of a J-1 Visa

212(e): Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement

The Two-Year Home Residency Requirement is often referred as the 212(e). Only the U.S. Department of State can determine if a J-1 and/or J-2 is subject to the 212(e). If subject, a J-visa holder will have to physically reside within their last country of legal permanent residence for two years before s/he may return to the U.S. as an H-1B, L, K status or as a Permanent Resident.  If subject, J-visitors are unable to apply for a change of status within the USA.  Being "subject" to this regulation does not prevent a visitor from returning to the U.S. in another visa status, such as F-1 (student), B1/B2 (tourist/business) or under the visa waiver program. Those subject to the two-year home residency requirement may work with an immigration attorney to inquire about obtaining a waiver

There are three reasons a J-1 visitor may be subject to the 212(e):

• J-1 program is funded in part or wholly by the United States government, the visitor's government, or an international organization.
• the J-1 program is engaged in one or more of the skills listed on the Exchange Visitor Skills List for his/her country.
• the J-1 visa holder is receiving graduate medical education or training.

For more information on J-1 two-year requirement, visit the Department of State website.

It is important to know if one is subject to 212 (e) when making plans.  Contact the OISS for more information.

12 Month Bar After Previous J-1 Participation

J-1 students who have studied in the U.S. for more than 6 months may not return as a J-1 Research Scholar (another J-1 visa category, often used for post-doctoral research) until at least 12 months have passed. This 12 Month Bar is separate from the two-year home country physical presence requirement listed above. J-2 dependents are also subject to this bar.

Questions About Your Status

For more information about your current or future immigration status, contact the OISS at oiss@tulane.edu