F-1 and J-1 Student Status
It is important that students maintain lawful F-1 Student or J-1 Exchange Visitor - Student status while in the U.S. As an F-1 or J-1 visa holder, it is the student’s responsibility to manage their documents and reporting requirements, but we are here to help.
While the F-1 and J-1 status have many similarities, there are some additional requirements for J-1 students, which we have outlined below.
PLEASE NOTE: The J-1 information below is for Notre Dame-sponsored J-1 students only. If your DS-2019 was issued by another organization that serves as your program sponsor, such as Fulbright, IIE, AMIDEAST, LASPAU, CIEE or another sponsoring organization, you must contact that organization with any immigration-related questions or information.
Responsibilities for Maintaining Legal F-1 or J-1 Status
When we talk about your immigration status, we are referencing the purpose and duration of your presence in the U.S., as granted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This status is determined by:
- your Form I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1),
- your SEVIS record,
- your F-1 or J-1 visa stamp (in your passport),
- your admission stamp (provided at a U.S. port of entry), AND
- your I-94 record.
While these documents establish your status, you have the responsibility to maintain your F-1 or J-1 status in the following ways:
CHECK IN WITH ISSA
You must register your F-1 or J-1 immigration status within 30 days of your program start date listed or within one week of your arrival at Notre Dame, whichever comes first. You can go to ISSAlink.nd.edu and complete the New Student Registration form upon arrival.
MAINTAIN A VALID PASSPORT
Passports may be renewed in the U.S. at the embassy or consulate of the country that issued your passport. Find your nearest embassy or consulate here.
ENTER THE U.S. IN F-1 or J-1 STATUS EVERY TIME
Each time you enter the U.S., verify that you were entered in F-1 or J-1 status. Once you arrive in the Notre Dame area, check your I-94 record online to confirm you were entered in F-1 or J-1 status with D/S and the correct entry date. If it is correct, keep a digital and printed copy in your records.
MAINTAIN A VALID, ACCURATE I-20 or DS-2019
Before leaving the U.S., always review your I-20 or DS-2019 and verify:
- the accuracy of the biographical information,
- the accuracy of your program information, and
- the validity of the travel signature
Your I-20 or DS-2019 will need to be updated and re-issued if you have changed any of the details that appear on the form, including your name, degree level, country of citizenship and primary or secondary major. Carry your I-20 or DS-2019 with you whenever you leave the U.S.
Travel signatures are valid for one year from date of signing, and must be valid at the time you reenter the U.S.
MAINTAIN FULL TIME ENROLLMENT
You must enroll full-time every fall and spring semester and confirm enrollment by completing Roll Call. In each semester, full time enrollment is:
- Undergraduates - 12 credit hours
- Graduate students during coursework - 9 credit hours
- Graduate students during thesis or dissertation research and writing - at least 1 There are some exceptions to the full time enrollment requirement, but they must be reviewed and authorized by an ISSA advisor prior to reducing your course load.
According to federal regulations, no more than one online class per semester may be counted towards full time enrollment.
REPORT CHANGE OF ADDRESS
Report address changes within ten days of the change:
- at the beginning of each semester, report the change during Roll Call
- other times of the year, report the change to email@example.com
Students on Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (AT) should update their address by completing the OPT or AT US Address Report form in ISSAlink.
BE MINDFUL OF PROGRAM END DATE
If you will not complete your program before the program end date on your I-20, you must request a program extension before the end date is reached. Once you have reached your program end date, you are no longer eligible to work on campus, enroll in classes, or request an extension.
If you will complete or graduate early, it is important to notify ISSA so we can adjust your I-20 program end date and notify you of your timelines for applying for OPT or change of status, transferring to another institution or departing the U.S.
If you will transfer to another institution or start a new program at Notre Dame, you will need to contact our office to discuss transferring your record or submitting a request for an Initial I-20 for the new program.
Once you have reached your program end date, you have a 60 day grace period during which you can apply for Post-Completion OPT, transfer to another institution, apply for a change of status, travel within the U.S. and prepare to depart the U.S. If you stay in the U.S. beyond your 60 day grace period without apply for OPT, transferring or applying for a change of status, you are considered out of status.
DO NOT WORK OFF CAMPUS WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION
F-1 and J-1 students are not permitted to work off campus without prior authorization from ISSA or USCIS.
FILE TAX FORMS EACH SPRING
As an F-1 or J-1 student, you must file U.S. tax forms to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each spring, even if you have no U.S. income. You can find resources for filing under “Life in the U.S.”
USCIS also provides answers to frequently asked questions on their site.
Additional Responsibilities for J-1 Exchange Visitors
DO NOT WORK OFF CAMPUS WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION - J-1
J-1 students are not permitted to work on campus without prior authorization from ISSA; this includes receiving any scholarship, fellowship, or grant funding.
MAINTAIN HEALTH INSURANCE FOR DURATION OF PROGRAM - J-1
All J-1 exchange visitors must maintain the required amounts of health insurance for themselves and all J-2 dependents. Health insurance requirements are listed on the DS-2019.