J-1 Status

Full-Time Study

Maintain a full course of study each fall and spring semester for the duration of your program.

  • Undergraduates: Minimum of 12 credits per semester
  • Graduates: Minimum of 9 credits per semester (12 credits for social work and some school of law programs)

Online courses do NOT count towards the full course of study requirement for J-1 students.

If you cannot register full-time for a given semester, you must see an adviser in ISS before classes begin or prior to dropping below a full-time course load during the semester. There are extremely limited exceptions to the full course of rule and you must obtain permission from ISS before dropping below full-time or fully withdrawing from classes. Failure to comply is a violation of your J-1 status.

Record Keeping

Report address and name changes within 10 days to ISS

ISS is required to provide a valid address and other student data electronically in SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). No other university office is authorized by the federal government to process this data.

Report changes in program to ISS

Students must notify ISS whenever there is a change in their academic program, program dates, or level of study. All such changes would require our office to issue a new DS-2019 to you. Note that changes of major are restricted for J-1 students as a broad change would be considered a change in objective which is prohibited by the J-1 regulations. Also, J-1 students can only matriculate to a higher degree level; they are prohibited from reverse-matriculation or dropping down a degree level.

Program Completion/End of DS-2019

Note the completion date listed on your DS-2019. The program completion date on your document is an estimated end date. Your actual program completion may extend beyond or end before the end date listed. Once you complete your program, you will need to take one of the steps listed below, even if you have additional time on your document. In addition, if you cannot complete your studies by the date listed, you must file for an extension of your SEVIS record before this date.

Upon completion of your academic program, you must do one of the following:

  • Depart the US within the 30-day “grace period” (i.e., the 30 days immediately following your date of completion.)
  • Begin Academic Training. This must be requested before your DS-2019 expires. Academic training is an extension of J-1 status and will lengthen the time on your DS-2019. A 30 day grace period will follow the end of your Academic Training.
  • Transfer your SEVIS record to a new school.
  • Enter a new academic program at a higher degree level at Widener.
  • Apply (or have already applied) for a change of status with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if eligible. J-1 students are prohibited from changing to many other statuses in the US and are restricted from any change of status if subject to the 212-e two year home residency requirement.

Note that non-degree exchange students are not eligible for a change of level at Widener or another institution and cannot extend their stay beyond 24 months.

Travel Documents

Students must receive a travel signature on page 1 of the most recent DS-2019 prior to traveling outside of the United States.

It is permissible to have an expired J-1 visa in your passport if you remain in the US and do not travel abroad or are eligible for automatic revalidation through travel to adjacent territory for less than 30 days. A valid J-1 visa or automatic revalidation is required for reentry into the US. Visas can only be renewed outside of the US (preferably in your home country).

You cannot be in the US on an expired passport. If your passport is within 6 months of expiring, renew your passport with your local Embassy in the United States.


Employment for J-1 international students is limited, and students who violate their immigration status must stop working immediately. It is also a violation of status to work without permission.

On-Campus Employment

When school is in session, you may work no more than 15 hours per week on-campus. During official university breaks, you may work up to 25 hours per week. International students are not eligible for work study positions.

Off-Campus Employment

You cannot work off-campus (including credit-bearing internships off-campus) without prior authorization from ISS. Off-campus employment is tied to your curriculum, unless you have an unforeseen situation that makes you or your sponsor unable to pay your expenses.

J-1 students are eligible for Academic Training (AT) to gain practical experience related to their major. Students can use AT during or after their studies. AT time is limited to the amount of time spent in J-1 status and capped at 18 months. Students who complete a doctoral degree are eligible for an additional 18 months of AT.