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Maintaining your J-1 Scholar Status

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Checklist for Maintaining your J-1 Scholar Status

To maintain J-1 status, visiting scholars must do the following:

☐ Maintain your program objective: You were granted a DS-2019 document based on a specific academic objective agreed upon between you and your host department. The Department of State requires that this objective be maintained throughout your stay in J-1 status. If you plan to change your objective in any way (including a change in faculty sponsor, change of lab, change of department, etc.) you must inquire with the OISS in order to ensure that the change is permitted.

☐ You must check-in with OISS within 30 days of your program start date as listed on the DS-2019.  OISS has check-in times on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.  No appointment is needed.

☐ Maintain Health Insurance: You and any accompanying J-2 dependents are required to maintain health insurance for the entire period of your stay in the U.S. Your health insurance coverage must meet specific criteria as outlined by J-1 federal regulations and Tulane policy.Your health insurance must be provided through Tulane or you must be  granted a waiver through the Tulane waiver process.

☐ Change of address reporting requirement:  Within 10 calendar days, you must report an address change to OISS. Email oiss@tulane.edu with your complete address.

☐ Any change in site of activity, the location where you work or conduct research or study, must be reported within 10 days to OISS.  Email oiss@tulane.edu with the new site of activity.

☐ Restrictions on studying: You must not enroll in a program that will confer a degree or a certificate. Any courses taken must be incidental and must be approved by the department. If you have specific questions regarding this topic please contact OISS.

☐ Off-campus employment: You must get authorization from OISS to participate in occasional lectures and short-term consultations. Such lectures and consultations must be incidental to the exchange visitor's primary program activities. Any off-campus work authorization or reimbursement must be pre-approved in writing by an OISS advisor before the date of the proposed work.

☐ Leave of Absence (LOA) or Work Outside the US: LOAs are typically not permitted for J-1 scholars.  Department of State considers a J-1 exchange visitor SEVIS record status of “active” to be indicative of continued program participation.  In addition, while a J-1 record is in active status, the University (as the J program sponsor) is required to monitor the progress and welfare of the exchange visitor and the exchange visitor is required to maintain health insurance.  A LOA represents a break in program participation and is therefore not permitted while in J-1 status.  In some cases, However, J-1 scholars can potentially maintain their status if they get approval in advance from OISS to conduct J-1 program activities outside the US. Please contact our office if you are considering a LOA as it may have a negative effect on your J-1 status (and the status of your J-2 dependents) as well as your ability to return to the U.S. in J-1 status.  The only exceptions that may be made are in cases when the LOA is because of a personal medical issue or family medical issue.

☐ Abide by the 30-day grace period rules: do not stay in the U.S. for more than 30 days after the program end date on your DS-2019, and do not work after your program end date. Any transfer or change of immigration status must be submitted and approved BEFORE the grace period begins (i.e. before the end date of your program).

☐ Maintain a valid DS-2019: Do not allow your DS-2019 to expire. Work with your department to request an extension if you need additional time to complete your program objective. The J-1 Extension Request should be initiated by your department. If you are planning to complete your J-1 program more than 15 days prior to the end date on your DS-2019, notify the OISS by sending an email. The information you provide will help us properly update your J-1 SEVIS record.  If you are planning to transfer to another J-1 program or school, contact the OISS at least 30 days before the program end date on your DS-2019. Note: extensions, transfers, and a change of status to another immigration status can take significant time to process and you should apply for an extension at least 30 days before the program end date.

☐ Maintain a valid, unexpired passport for the duration of your program, even if you are not traveling outside the U.S. If your passport needs to be renewed, start the process as soon as possible. If you need to renew it within the U.S., contact your country’s embassy or consulate for the proper procedures and application materials.

☐ 24-Month Bar, Repeat participation: If you have completed a J-1 program as a professor or research scholar, you are not eligible for participation in this category for a period of two years following the end date of such program participation.  J-2 dependents are also subject to this bar.

☐ 12-Month Bar:  If you have been in the U.S. under another J category (as J-1 or J-2 in any J category) in the 12 months preceding the proposed start date of the new J-1 Research Scholar or Professor program, you are subject to this bar.  Past J programs of 6 months or less, and any time spent in short-term scholar category are not subject.  J-2 dependents are also subject to this bar.

☐ Be aware of the 212 (E) - Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement: Some J-1 students may be required to physically reside within their last country of legal permanent residence for two years before they may return to the U.S. under certain immigration statuses. More information is available here.)

☐ Be aware that the J-1 is a non-immigrant visa: You must show that your stay in the U.S. is temporary and that you intend to return to your home country at the end of your program.  If your current J-1 visa expires and you apply for a new J-1 visa, you must show strong financial, family, and/or employment ties to your home country to receive the new J-1 visa. If you do anything that indicates an intent to immigrate, such as marrying a U.S. Citizen, it could be difficult for you to renew your J-1 visa. Seek immigration counsel anytime that you are concerned about jeopardizing your “non-immigrant” status in the US.

☐ Avoid criminal activity, especially related to illegal drugs and drinking and driving. Any arrest, even if you are not convicted of a crime, can have serious immigration consequences. If you have been arrested, immediately contact the OISS and/or the Tulane Legal Assistance Program (TULAP) immigration attorney. Even if you have criminal legal defense, you must receive additional legal advice from an immigration attorney, as these are separate areas of the law.

☐ Accepting government aid for yourself or any J-2 dependents could create problems for your immigration status. If you have a U.S. citizen child, consult this fact sheet, but keep in mind that regulations about government aid may be changing in the near future.  We recommend contacting TULAP with any questions about government aid for yourself or any dependents.

J-2 Dependents:

J-2 dependents are subject to the following requirements:

☐ A J-2 dependent's status is valid only if the J-1 principal continues to maintain J-1 status.

☐ J-2 dependents must maintain insurance coverage throughout their entire duration of stay in the U.S. and it must meet Tulane’s standard of coverage for J-2 dependents.

☐ J-2 dependents may study in the U.S. without restriction.

☐ J-2 dependents can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS in order to be employed in the United States.  The J-2 may begin employment only after receiving the EAD from USCIS. The J-2’s employment cannot be for the purpose of supporting the J-1 principal.  Contact OISS for assistance with applying for J-2 work authorization.

☐ If a J-2 dependent leaves the U.S. before the end of the J-1 principal’s program, and has no intention of returning to accompany the J-1 principal, they must inform the OISS of their departure.

☐ If a J-1 principal will be outside the U.S. for an extended period of time while the J-2 remains in the U.S., the J-2 may encounter issues maintaining their immigration status.  Contact the OISS for guidance in these circumstances.

☐ If a J-2 dependent child reaches the age of 21 their J-2 status will automatically be terminated in SEVIS. Make arrangements in advance for a change of immigration status if the dependent child plans to stay in the U.S. Contact TULAP for more information about different immigration status options.

Maintaining Status While Traveling Outside the U.S.

J-1 scholars and J-2 dependents must maintain status while traveling:

Passport: Make sure your passport is valid for a least 6 months into the future. You can be denied entry to the U.S. if the expiration date on your passport is less than 6 months into the future.  If your passport needs to be renewed, start the process as soon as possible. If you need to renew it within the U.S., contact your country’s embassy or consulate for the proper procedures and application materials.

Visa: Make sure your J-1/J-2 visa is valid. If you need to renew your visa, the best place is generally your home country. If it is not feasible to travel to your home country to renew your visa, contact the OISS for guidance. (Not applicable to Canadian citizens, who do not receive a J-1/J-2 visa page in their passport.) Note: the J-1/J-2 visa only needs to be valid at the point of entry to the US. If your visa expires while you are in the US, you do not need to renew it unless you plan to leave the US and re-enter again in J-1/J-2 status.

DS-2019: Make sure your DS-2019 is signed for travel. The travel signature is in the lower right corner of the DS-2019. It is good for re-entry for one year after it is signed for Professors and Research Scholars, for six months for Short-Term Scholars, or until the end date of your program, whichever is sooner.

I-94: Your I-94 is the official record of your immigration status at the time you enter the U.S., and it must be correct. Every time you leave the U.S. and return, you should check your I-94 online at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/ to make sure it shows your most recent date of entry, your class of admission as J-1 or J-2, and your admit until date as D/S for “Duration of Status”. If any of these are in error or if you have trouble retrieving your I-94 record, contact the OISS immediately to request help with correcting your I-94 record.

I-515A: If you enter the U.S. without proper documentation, you may receive a Form I-515A. You must resolve the issue(s) indicated on the I-515A within 30 days to maintain your J-1/J-2 status. Contact the OISS immediately so that we can assist with resolving the I-515A.

Travel tips: All travelers are subject to search when entering the U.S., including a search of your electronic devices like phones and laptops. To reduce the possibility of your electronics and social media being inspected when you enter the U.S., keep them in your luggage and present only your passport, paper copies of your DS-2019, and airplane tickets. For more information on your rights at the airport, visit the American Civil Liberties Union website.