J-1 Student Visa

The J-1 student visa is a nonimmigrant status primarily for students who are coming as exchange visitors.

If you receive a DS-2019 from the University of Cincinnati, you should apply for a J-1 visa.

Apply for a Visa

After you apply to the University of Cincinnati, you will go through a multi-step process in order to get your student visa.

Maintain Your Visa Status

As an international student, you need to pay attention to all the US laws and regulations that apply to you. If you do not, you could be deported and barred from returning for some time. We want you to successfully complete your program at UC.

International students are required by federal regulations to be enrolled full-time each semester.

  • For undergraduate students, this means 12 credit hours
  • For graduate students, it means 10 credit hours

You are allowed to enroll for online distance education courses. However, there is limit to how many credit hours you can use of online courses to fulfill your full-time enrollment requirement.

  • International students may count only the equivalent of one class or three credits per semester toward the full course of study requirement. 
  • You are not limited in the number of online distance education courses you can take, you are only limited in the number of credit hours you can count toward fulfilling the full-time enrollment requirement. 

For example, if you are an undergraduate student you would need to be enrolled for at least 9 credit hours of traditional courses. You could then use one class (or three credit hours) of online distance education courses to reach the full-time enrollment threshold and, if desired, enroll for more online classes to increase your overall credit hours.

If you want to travel outside the US, you need a travel signature from UC International Services on your Form I-20. Complete and submit a Request for a Travel Signature eForm on iBearcatsGlobal at least 5 days prior to the anticipated travel date. We encourage you to submit the form even earlier. 

Students may work on campus no more than 20 hours per week while school is in session.

  • These 20 hours include the work you do for your assistantship if you have one. 
  • You are not permitted to work off-campus without receiving prior authorization from the US Federal Government and/or UC International Services.

If you are interested in working in the United States, refer to our webpage outlining employment options for students.

All international students are required to carry the University of Cincinnati Student Health Insurance policy unless they can prove coverage equal to or greater than the University policy. If you are not registered for at least 6 credit hours or more, you will not be eligible for the University Student Health Insurance policy.

However, you must have insurance while in the United States.

If you are an F-1 student, you must file your change of address with the University within 10 days of moving. This includes address changes of any of your dependents as well.

You can notify the university of this change by completing the Change of Local U.S. Address eForm on iBearcatsGlobal and by updating your personal information in Catalyst.

If you leave the University before the program completion date on your I-20 or DS-2019, you are required to inform UC International Services that you are leaving and why you are doing so. Use the Departure Certification eForm on iBearcatsGlobal to notify us.

Some common reasons include early graduation, leave of absence, suspension, expulsion, or family emergencies. 

You are currently authorized to study or conduct research at the University of Cincinnati. If you decide to study or work at another school in the US, you must notify UC International of your intent to transfer and what school you plan on transferring to.

Complete a SEVIS Transfer Out eForm Request in iBearcatsGlobal. UC International will then enter a "Release" date in SEVIS. After this date is reached, the new school can issue you a SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019. You will then have to report to the Designated School Official/Responsible Officer at the new school within 15 days of the program start date.

Length of Stay

The length of time you can stay in the United States on exchange visitor status is determined by the general limitations for the category and the length of time outlined by your visa type. The expiration date on your visa is not the date that you need to leave by; it is the last date in which you can enter the US in general. 

  • Non-degree J-1 students have a maximum stay of (2) two years.
  • Degree-seeking J-1 Students do not have a maximum stay limitation. You may extend for as long as necessary to complete the program of study provided you are studying full time and making good academic progress.

Take a look at the Form I-94 online. You must exit the US on or before the departure date listed on the I-94.

Certain visa statuses have a grace period following their duration of stay. For example, F-1 students have a 60-day grace period, and J-1 visa holders have a 30-day grace period.

This means that J-1 students have thirty days past the "Duration of Stay" date on their DS-2019 to leave the country.

If you want to extend your stay in the US, you must do so prior to the expiration of your I-20 / DS-2019. If you stay longer than authorized, you may be barred from returning or deported from the United States.

You may apply to extend your stay if: 

  • You were lawfully admitted into the United States with a nonimmigrant visa 
  • Your nonimmigrant visa status remains valid 
  • You have not committed any crimes that make you ineligible for a visa
  • You have not violated the conditions of your admission
  • Your passport is valid and will remain valid for the duration of your stay

Submit an Extension of Program eForm through iBearcatsGlobal. A UC International advisor will review your documents and schedule you for an appointment.

As you approach the end of your program of study, you can:

  • Apply for Academic Training work authorization. You must apply before your program completion date. 
  • Apply for a change of status if you are not subject to the two-year home residency requirement. The application must be received before the end of your grace period.
  • Transfer to a new program. You will need to have your transfer approved by UC International before the end of your grace period.
  • Start a new program of study at UC. You must be fully admitted, and apply for and receive a new I-20 before the end of the grace period. Updated financial documentation will be required.
  • Leave the United States before the end of the grace period.

As an exchange visitor, you may not be eligible to apply for or change to other visa statuses in the US until you have resided and been physically present in your country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for a minimum of two years following your departure from the United States.

These restrictions apply in any of the following cases:

  • When your participation was financed in whole or part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the US government or by the government of your home country.
  • You had skills necessary to your country under the Exchange Visitor Skills List when you applied for your J visa.
  • You acquired exchange visitor status in order to receive graduate medical education or training.

Waive the Home Residency Requirement

Exchange visitors who are subject to the home residency requirement may apply for a waiver under any one of the five applicable grounds:

  1. "No Objection" statement from the home government
  2. Request by an interested (US) Government Agency
  3. Persecution
  4. Exceptional hardship to a United States citizen (or permanent resident) spouse or child of an exchange visitor
  5. Request by a designated State Department of Health or its equivalent