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Washington State University
International On Campus

Maintaining Status

Maintaining J-1 Scholar 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 academic program or program 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 and Medical Evacuation and Repatriation 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. You will receive a reminder when your passport is within 6 months of expiring.
  • 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 3 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.

For more information on status violations, please see

Departing from WSU

When you leave the University, either temporarily or permanently, follow the appropriate departure procedures.

  • Authorization for Transfer
    Before you can transfer to another institution, you need to obtain official authorization from your international scholar advisor.
  • 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.
  • 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 re-enter the United States as a J-1 scholar.
  • 30-day Grace Period for Departure
    You must depart the United States within 30 days of your DS-2019 expiration date or program end date, whichever is earlier, 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 an Extension Request Form and deliver it to International Student and Scholar Services. If you are eligible, International Student and Scholar Services will issue a new DS-2019 with the amended date. Your host department will forward it to you.
  • Provide Evidence of Funding for the Extension Period.
    Deliver it to your department contact person.
  • Provide Evidence of Insurance Coverage for the Extension Period.
    This is required for you and any J-2 dependents.

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
  • File 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.

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

Changing Status to Become a J-1 Scholar

Find a WSU department to sponsor you for a research or teaching experience.

complete the application (pdf)