J-1 Immigration Information

International Student Services (ISS) provides the necessary information and assistance to comply with current immigration regulations. We have Designated School Officials who are authorized to sign and initiate required authorizations in SEVIS, travel endorsements, requests for employment authorization along with other student needs. In addition, the office advises students on cultural opportunities, cross-cultural concerns, employment, banking, university policies, and more.

Below, you will find important information about immigration issues, documents, and staying in status.

Immigration Issues

Maintain Current Records

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service regulations requires that UNK maintain accurate, current information on all enrolled international students. Every beginning of session (January and August), or any time you have changes of citizenship, address in the U.S., email, phone, or home address the International Student Information Form should be completed within ten days of the change.

If you are a new student you should review the New Student Orientation Information and participate in all the activities mentioned.

Change of Status

An individual who applies for a change from one nonimmigrant status to another nonimmigrant status must continue to maintain his/her current nonimmigrant status. A change of status may not be approved for an applicant who failed to maintain the previously accorded status or whose status expired before the application or petition was filed. Also exchange visitors who are subject to the Two Year Foreign Residence Requirement are not eligible to change their status while in the U.S. If you want more information please come to ISS.

J-2 Dependents

Only the spouse and unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) of the exchange visitor are eligible for J-2 status.

Employment by J-2 dependents
Individuals with J-2 status can apply for employment authorization from USCIS. Employment will not be authorized if this income is needed to support the J-1 student. Employment is permitted only after USCIS authorization and issuance of the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is received by the J-2. The period of authorized employment is tied to the validity dates of the DS-2019 for the J-1 student.

Study by J-2 dependents
There is currently no regulatory restriction on study for J-2 dependents.

Visits abroad and reentry
A J-2 dependent leaving the United States temporarily must have the documents needed both to enter the country to be visited as well as to re-enter the United States. J-2s also need a valid passport and visa, and a properly endorsed Form DS-2019.

Immigration Documents

Your immigration documents consist of your passport, the visa page inside the passport, the I-94 card and your SEVIS DS-2019. Keep these documents together in a safe place. At the same time, these documents must be accessible. You will need these documents when filing any type of application with INS/USCIS, applying for Social Security number, opening a bank account, obtaining a driver's license, or traveling. Remember that you should carry your documents for domestic as well as international travel. In the event you would be stopped by law enforcement for any reason, you need to be able to produce these documents. Copies of all these documents are on file at the ISS office.

Any time you are issued new documents, you should bring them to the office so that your ISS file as well as the SEVIS system can be updated.


Your passport cannot expire or you are out of status. You can renew your passport while here in the U.S. Contact your country's embassy to find out about the procedure and cost. Start your passport renewal process at least six months prior to expiration. Here are links to locate your embassy:

Foreign Embassies in Washington DC
Directory & Search Engine of Every Nation's Embassies & Consulates


Your entry visa is issued by a United States Consulate abroad and affixed into your passport. The only purpose of an entry visa is to apply for admission to the United States at the port of entry. Your visa can expire while you are in the United States. You will need to renew it only for re-entry to the U.S. after you have traveled abroad. You cannot renew a visa while in the U.S. You can only renew abroad. Check with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country about procedures and appointments. Many embassies are scheduling appointments, so investigate visa renewal procedures before you make your travel arrangements.

United States Embassies and Consulates Worldwide

You can also check on a visa renewal as a "third country national," (TCN), which means getting your visa renewed in Canada or Mexico rather than your home country. Here is information about obtaining a third country visa:

U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs


This small white card is a record of your legal entry into the U.S. and immigration status. You complete it on a flight to the U.S. or at a border crossing, and it is then processed at a port of entry. An immigration inspector usually staples it into your passport. Form I-94 notes name, date of birth, country of citizenship, and the date and port of your arrival in the U.S. It also indicates how long you can stay in the United States. The notation D/S signifies "duration of status" and refers to the completion date on the DS-2019.

Make sure you do not lose the I-94 arrival and departure card that you are given to fill out on the airplane. If you loose your card or it is destroy, you need to apply for a new one as soon as possible. Download the application for I-102 on the INS/USCIS website and bring it to the ISS office for processing. The fee for I-94 Application for Replacement is $100.

What should I do with the I-94/I-94W from my last visit to the United States?

If you returned home with your Department of Homeland Security departure record Form I-94 (white) or Form I-94W (green) in your passport, it means that your departure was not recorded properly. It is your responsibility to correct this record. You must provide the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sufficient information so we can record your timely departure from the United States. This will close out your earlier record of arrival to this country.

If you do not validate a timely departure from the United States, or if you cannot reasonably prove otherwise when you next apply for admission to the United States, USCIS may conclude you remained in the United States beyond your authorized stay. If this happens, the next time you apply to enter the United States, your visa may be subject to cancellation or you may be returned immediately to your foreign point of origin.

In particular, visitors who remain beyond their permitted stay in the United States under the Visa Waiver Program cannot reenter the United States in the future without obtaining a visa from a United States Consulate. If this occurs and you arrive at a United States port-of-entry seeking admission under the Visa Waiver Program without a visa, United States immigration officers may order your immediate return to a foreign point of origin.

To validate departure, USCIS will consider a variety of information, including, but not limited to:

  • Original boarding passes you used to depart the United States,
  • Photocopies of entry or departure stamps in your passport indicating entry to another country after you departed the United States (you should copy all passport pages that are not completely blank, and include the biographical page containing your photograph)

and photocopies of other supporting evidence, such as:

  • Dated pay slips or vouchers from your employer to indicate you worked in another country after you departed the United States,
  • Dated bank records showing transactions to indicate you were in another country after you left the United States,
  • School records showing attendance at a school outside the United States to indicate you were in another country after you left the United States,
  • Dated credit card receipts, showing your name, but, the credit card number deleted, for purchases made after you left the United States to indicate you were in another country after leaving the United States

Your statement will not be acceptable without supporting evidence such as noted above.

You must mail legible copies or original materials where possible. If you send original materials, you should retain a copy. The Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) cannot return original materials after processing. To help us understand the situation and correct your records quickly, please include an explanation letter in English. You must send your letter and enclosed information only to the following address:

ACS–US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) SBU
P.O. Box 7125
London, KY 40742-7125

Do not mail your departure Form I-94 or supporting information to any United States Consulate or Embassy, to any other USCIS office in the United States, or to any address other than the one above. Only at this location are we able to make the necessary corrections to USCIS records to prevent inconvenience to you in the future.


The DS-2019 is the document issued by the sponsor of the Exchange Visitor Program which the student uses to apply for a J-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. At the port of entry the USCBP officer will stamp the DS-2019 and return it to the student. The DS-2019 should be valid at all times; do not let the DS-2019 expire. A J-1 student should keep all issued forms DS-2019 permanently; do not discard old ones.

When I need a New DS-2019?

The International Student Services (ISS) will enter students into SEVIS when changes to their current DS-2019 need to be made. This would include:

  • School Transfer
  • Change of educational level
  • Program extension
  • Work authorization

Staying in Status

Your admission to the U.S. is for "duration of status," that is, for the time during which you are pursuing a full course of study and making normal progress toward your degree or completion of studies, or engaging in authorized academic training, plus 30 days to prepare to depart the U.S. Non-degree-seeking students are authorized to participate in program for 24 months only and must follow the same conditions.

In order for individuals to stay temporarily in the U.S. as J-1 Exchange Visitors, they must follow or comply with specific regulations of the U.S. Department of State. This is referred to as "maintaining lawful J-1 status" or "being in lawful J-1 status". The regulations are listed below. To be in lawful status and to maintain lawful J-1 status a student must:

  • Maintain required medical insurance, medical evacuation, and repatriation insurance;
  • New J-1 students must attend the required New International Student Orientation, and physically report to and check-in the International Student Services office during the first two weeks of classes;
  • Transfer must be completed before a J-1 student enrolls at UNK;
  • Pursue a full course of study (Undergraduates 12 credits; Grads 10 credits) every semester for the entire semester;
  • Obtain a new DS-2019 from your program sponsor if any information on your DS-2019 changes;
  • Do not engage in any employment without prior authorization from your J program sponsor;
  • Notify any changes in your intend to transfer, graduation, end of program, and residential address.