Maintaining J-1 Scholar Status

Maintaining status

To maintain your legal status as a J-1 scholar in the United States, you must understand and comply with U.S. federal laws and regulations governing the J visa. Among your responsibilities are the following:

Report changes to International Student and Scholar Services

  • Address changes
    Report within 10 days of any move. International Student and Scholar Services must have your residential address, even if you choose to receive mail at a post office box.
  • Academic program changes
    Report changes in your activities, location, or dates.
  • Arrival of J-2 dependents in the United States
    Let International Student and Scholar Services know as soon as dependents arrive.

Maintain required health insurance

Throughout your stay in the United States, you and your J-2 dependents must be covered by Basic Medical Health Insurance that includes minimum medical evacuation and repatriation of remains insurance.

Do not let your documents expire

  • Passport
    Your passport and those of your J-2 dependents must be valid at all times during your stay in the United States.
  • Form DS-2019
    If you will not be able to complete your program at WSU by the end date on your Form DS-2019, apply for an extension before your DS-2019 expires. Scholars in the Research Scholar or Professor categories are allowed to stay in the United States for a maximum of 5 years. Short-term scholars may stay for up to 6 months.

Do not work outside WSU

As a J-1 scholar, you are authorized to conduct research or teach only at Washington State University. If you are invited to speak or consult at another institution, you need specific authorization from International Student and Scholar Services.

International travel and reentry

When traveling internationally with the intention to return to WSU to finish your J-1 program, follow these procedures to ensure a smooth reentry process.

  • Signature for international travel
    At least 1 week before you travel outside the United States, get the signature of the international scholar advisor on your Form DS-2019. Even if you are just traveling to Canada or Mexico, you will need the signature to reenter the U.S. as a J-1 scholar.
  • Valid DS-2019 and J-1 visa
    To reenter the United States, your documents must be valid. If your J-1/J-2 visa stamp has expired, you must apply for a new one at a U.S. consulate abroad before returning. Before departing you can find visa appointment wait times for all consulates.
  • Download I-94 upon return
    Each time you enter the U.S. from abroad you should go to the Customs and Border Protection website and download your most recent I-94 to ensure that you were assigned the correct status and duration of stay. You can email your I-94 to for verification.

Departing from WSU

When you leave the university, follow the appropriate departure procedures.

  • Authorization for transfer
    Before you can transfer to another institution, you need to be accepted into the J-1 program of the other institution and obtain official authorization from a WSU international scholar advisor. Contact ISSS at least 1 month in advance of your anticipated transfer date.
  • Early departure notification
    If you leave the university before the expiration date of your DS-2019, U.S. federal regulations require that you inform the international scholar advisor in International Student and Scholar Services. You must provide advance notice of your departure date, as well as your reason for leaving early.
  • 30-day grace period for departure
    You must depart the United States within 30 days of your DS-2019 end date unless you have applied for a change of status with USCIS.

Extending your stay

If you have maintained lawful J-1 visitor status, you are eligible to apply for an extension of your stay.

Maximum length of stay by exchange visitor category

The total length of time you can stay in the United States as a J-1 scholar depends upon your exchange visitor category.

  • Professor: 5 years
  • Research scholar: 5 years
  • Specialist: 1 year
  • Short-term scholar: 6 months

How to request an extension

  • Start early to allow adequate processing time
    Extensions must be approved before the end date on your current DS-2019. International Student and Scholar Services will not guarantee last-minute requests.
  • Meet with the contact person in your host department
    He or she will complete a J-1 extension request in myPassport and submit it to International Student and Scholar Services. If you are eligible, ISSS will issue a new DS-2019 with the amended date.
  • Provide evidence of funding for the extension period
    If your funding does not come from WSU, deliver proof of funding to your department contact person.
  • Provide evidence of insurance coverage for the extension period
    This is required for you and any J-2 dependents and should be uploaded into myPassport.

Changing status

Requirements to be granted a change of status

If you are in the United States at the time you apply, you generally must meet the following requirements:

  • Have been lawfully admitted to the United States
  • Not have been unlawfully present in the United States
  • Currently hold a status that allows your desired change
  • Be maintaining valid status
  • Filed the change of status application in a timely fashion (before the current status expires)
  • Be eligible for the new status requested

Changing from J-1 scholar to a different status

While you are in the United States, your ability to change visa status depends in part upon whether you are subject to the 2-year home country physical presence.

If you are NOT subject to the 2-year requirement

You may apply for change of status to any other visa type for which you qualify.

If you ARE subject to the 2-year requirement

You generally cannot change status while you are physically in the United States. To do so, you would need a waiver of the 2-year requirement from the Department of State and USCIS. Before applying for the waiver, please contact International Student and Scholar Services to understand how this will impact your current J-1 program.

Exceptions include changing status to an A visa (diplomatic or government official) or G visa (employee of an international organization).