The “J” visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. The J-1 Student Visa will allow you to stay in the United States for the duration of your program (designed in your DS-2019). To maintain in good standing with your student status at WVU you must take at least 12 credit/hours per semester at the undergraduate level and meet all the WVU requirements. At the graduate level full course of study is defined by your college but usually 9 credit/hours per semester. J-1 student status permits you to work on-campus for no more than 20 hours/week and, during and/or after the completion of your studies with prior permission from your J-1 sponsor after completion of your course, work off-campus in an “ Academic Training Job”. It will also allow you to bring your dependents (husband/spouse and children) to the U.S., if there are sufficient financial resources for their support.

Transfer Procedures

If a student has maintained status, it is possible to transfer to another DHS approved institution by the notification process. After being accepted and issued an DS-2019 from the new institution, the student must enroll in the first term after leaving the previous school. The student must report to the International Office at the new school before school starts.

Extensions of Stay

US Department of State regulations dictate that short-term J-1 exchange visitors can be in the US for up to 6 months with no further extension available, while regular J-1 participants can be in the US engaging in their research and teaching responsibility for up to five (5) years. Your department may choose to request the DS-2019 to be issued for only one year at a time. If you do, a visitor who will be continuing his/her status with your department must have his/her “stay” extended. To initiate the extension procedure, the department should send a J-1 Extension Request Form to ISSS at least one month prior to the expiration date on the visitor’s DS-2019. A new document will be prepared and the foreign visitor will be notified to come to this office to complete the procedure. He/she will need to bring the passport at that time. Six-month extension beyond the three year limitation may be possible if the professor or researcher need this additional period to complete his/her responsibilities. Please refer all questions to International Students and Scholars Services.

We will forward a photocopy of the DS-2019 for extension to your office.

Travel Abroad

When preparing to travel abroad for less than 5 months, it is important to ensure entry to another country and re-entry to the U.S. Depending on the country to be visited and the student’s nationality, there may be the need to apply for a visitor’s visa. In order to return to the U.S., a student must have a valid passport, a valid visa and a valid I-20 or DS-2019 that is signed by an ISSS Staff member within the past year.

For J-1s, the extension of your J-1 stay does not mean that you will be automatically allowed to enter the US if you were to travel abroad. If you travel abroad with an expired J-1 visa, you will have to apply for a J-1 visa at a consulate in order to reenter the U.S. as an Exchange J-1 visitor.

Current regulations require that those individuals holding non-immigrant (temporary) visa status turn their I-94 arrival/departure record card when leaving the U.S. Failure to do that will result in the departure not being recorded properly in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) system and the individual being regarded as overstaying his/her authorized stay. This can have serious consequences on future entry into the U.S., visa validity including danger of the individual being returned immediately to the foreign point of origin.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has issued guidance on how individuals holding non-immigrant (temporary) visa status can record a departure from the U.S when his/her I-94 arrival/departure record was not collected. If you discover after departure that you are still in possession of your I-94, you should IMMEDIATELY follow the departure validation procedures at: http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94-instructions.

For complete information on the Exchange Visitor Program click here. Please remember to bring your DS-2019 to ISSS at least two weeks before you leave the U.S. so that we can make sure that your I-20 has been signed within a year of your intended return to the U.S.