J-Visa Basics

Essentials for J-1 Students to Stay in Status

  • Complete a full course of study each academic term except during official school breaks and annual vacations. A full course of study is generally defined as 12 hours of undergraduate level course work or 9 hours of graduate level course work.
  • Keep your passport valid at all times.
  • Do not let your DS-2019 expire. The expiration date is found in section 3 of your DS-2019 form. The U.S. State Department requires that you complete an orientation to U.S. culture and society. This requirement is met through a course taught here on campus, ISC 93, Contemporary American Society.
  • Carry appropriate health insurance throughout your entire J-1 program for yourself and any J-2 dependents. The California State University system determines the level of insurance required.
  • Never work (on or off campus) without prior written approval from the Responsible Officer (Paul Yunouye) or Alternate Responsible Officer (Sabina Jacques) designated by your program sponsor. Your program sponsor is listed in section 2 of your DS-2019 form.
  • Only engage in the program described in section 4 of your DS-2019.
  • Have your DS-2019 form signed by the Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer designated by your program sponsor before you travel out of the country if you plan to return.
  • If you change program sponsors, get a new DS-2019 form, get released from the former program sponsor and have the new DS-2019 form processed.
  • Report any change of address to International Student Services and Programs.
  • There are almost always exceptions to these rules. Consult your Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer if you have any questions BEFORE you do something different. REMEMBER, it is always easier to stay in status than to get back in status!

Other Pertinent Items:

  • The J-1 visa is an Exchange Visitor permit. Often Exchange Visitors are required to complete a 2-year home country residence period before changing to another visa type.
  • Your English language skills must be at a level where you can benefit from the exchange visitor experience.
  • California State University Fresno uses the J-1 for exchange students from sister universities with written exchange agreements.
  • You must depart the U.S. within 30 days after the completion of the program.
  • All employment and authorization for employment is at the discretion of the Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer. You may need a recommendation from your exchange coordinator for any kind of work permission. Academic training must be related to your field of study and recommended by your exchange coordinator.
  • Information Sheet for Exchange Visitor