As a student who is attending class at Kutztown University in J-1 status, you are considered to be a non-immigrant because you are here to receive an education in the U.S. and have the intention to return home after you complete your studies. You have the sole responsibility for maintaining your own status; the Responsible Officer can help you with decisions that affect your status.
You have a DS-2019 Form. This document gives your program information, such as major, start and end dates, and any authorizations for training, travel, etc. Read the second page of the DS-2019 for important guidelines.
You are required to:
- Attend the institution listed on your DS-2019.
- Make normal academic progress towards completing your program before your DS-2019 program end date.
- Maintain good academic standing (no academic probation).
- Enroll full-time every semester.
- 12 credits for undergraduates
- 9 credits for graduate
- Take no more than one online course per semester as part of your full-time schedule requirements.
- File tax forms every year.
- Obey laws and university rules. (Review The Key – KU Student Handbook - at kutztown.edu/thekey.)
- Follow regulations for employment.
- Maintain required level of health insurance coverage.
- Keep a valid passport for at least six months in the future.
Report to the RO every semester. We must physically see you every semester you are enrolled at KU to keep your record active in the SEVIS system. To complete your registration, you must report to the RO no later than the first week of class and complete the SEVIS registration form in the presence of one of the staff and get our signature on the SEVIS registration form.
When to contact Responsible Officer:
- Change address or phone number. SEVIS must be updated within 10 days of an address change.
- Find out funding source has changed. SEVIS must be updated within 10 days of this change. You must pay your bill in full every semester or you will not be able to register for classes in future semesters or request official transcripts from the Registrar.
- Change major. Your SEVIS record and DS-2019 must be updated to match MyKU.
- Find out academic program will take longer to complete than the expiration date listed on your DS-2019. Extensions can be granted for valid academic or health reasons; the Program Extension Request Form must be submitted at least 30 days before the expiration date on the DS-2019.
- Need fewer classes during your last semester than required for full-time enrollment. For the last semester you are enrolled, you may take a reduced course load, which must be approved by the Responsible Officer. If you need only one class, it cannot be an online class.
- Initiate transfer to another university in the U.S. Your SEVIS record must be transferred and grace periods for departure apply.
- Want to drop a class that will cause you to drop below full-time enrollment. The Reduced Course Authorization form must be completed and approved prior to dropping a class.
LENGTH OF STAY IN THE U.S.
J-1 Degree Students
As long as a student remains enrolled full-time and is making progress toward his or her academic objective, there is no regulatory limit on the time the student is permitted to remain in the United States, provided that the student always maintains a valid unexpired Form DS-2019, and complies with the terms and conditions of J-1 status, such as maintaining required insurance and avoiding unauthorized employment. Periods of academic training following completion of the degree are also considered part of the student's duration of J-1 status.
J-1 Non-Degree Students
Students can participate in a nondegree program for no more than 24 months.
REDUCED COURSE LOAD
You are required to maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year to maintain your J-1 status. If you cannot or will not meet this requirement, you must request a Reduced Course Load (RCL). Federal immigration regulations severely limit your ability to be enrolled less than full-time, but it may be allowed in some academic or medical circumstances, explained below. If you drop below full-time enrollment without authorization after the drop/add deadline, Kutztown University is required to report this to SEVIS and you will lose your J-1 status.
If you would like to drop below full-time enrollment, you must obtain the approval from a RO in advance, regardless what the reason might be. If you drop below a full course of study (after the drop-add period) without prior approval of a RO, you will be considered out of status. Please be advised that a lack of financial support does not constitute a valid reason to reduce course load according to immigration regulations.
NOTE: If approved for reduced course load, you are still eligible for on-campus employment benefits.
J-1 college and university students can be exempted from the full course of study requirement under the following conditions:
- Illness or Medical Condition - reduce or interrupt a full course of study due to an illness or medical condition for which a physician recommends a reduction or interruption.
- Bona Fide Academic Reason - when the student's academic advisor or dean recommends a reduced course load due to a bona fide academic reason.
- Final Term of Study - A J-1 student may also register for less than a full course of study in the final term, if the student needs less than a full course of study to complete the academic requirements in his or her final term.
EXTENSION OF ACADEMIC PROGRAM
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires that you finish your program of study by the program end date on your DS-2019. The end date on the DS-2019 is established to reflect the time you will participate in your exchange program. Most J-1 students attend KU for one semester. J-1 status can be extended for up to 24 months for exchange students or for the length of time needed to complete an academic program for degree-seeking students. If, during the course of your studies it becomes necessary to extend your DS-2019, KU can provide a DS-2019 extension if you are eligible and apply in a timely fashion.
In order to obtain a program extension, you must show that you have continually maintained status and that the extension is needed for compelling academic or medical reasons, such as a change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, or a documented illness. Delays in completing your program caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension approval.
Extension of stay can be granted only for documented academic or medical reasons. You may be eligible for a DS-2019 extension if the following criteria are met:
- The delay was caused by documented academic or medical circumstances,
- You have sufficient financial resources to fund your studies and living expenses, and
- The extension is requested in a timely manner, with sufficient time for processing before the current DS-2019 program end date
If your program end date has passed or you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for a program extension, it may be necessary to file for reinstatement to J-1 status with the U.S. Department of State, for which you will have to pay a substantial fee or to travel and regain your J-1 status with a new initial DS-2019. In addition, failure to apply for an extension of stay in a timely manner is a violation of J-1 regulations.
The following are not valid reasons for DS-2019 extensions:
- To enroll in extra courses or repeat the same course for personal interest or to improve your GPA
- To engage in research on or off-campus
- To finish pending coursework for an incomplete grade
How to Request an Extension
Meet with your academic advisor to discuss your need for additional time to complete your degree program. You are required to submit the Program Extension Request Form signed by your academic advisor with any supporting documents, such as academic or medical records. Make an appointment with a Responsible Officer to discuss your request for program extension.
We strongly recommend that you submit the extension request at least 1-2 months prior to the expiration of your current DS-2019 form.
If approved, keep the new DS-2019 with the new program end date and all previous DS-2019 forms that you have been issued. They must be submitted upon request to an immigration officer when you travel outside the U.S. or for future immigration petitions.
NOTE: If you are enrolled in multiple degree/major programs of study, you will need to have your request for a program extension endorsed by all of your academic advisors.
REINSTATEMENT OF STATUS AFTER TERMINATION
Contact us to find out what steps you must take if you are out of status and need to be reinstated.
You may not be reinstated to J-1 status if your status was terminated for any of the following reasons:
- Willful and knowing failure to comply with program insurance requirements;
- Unauthorized employment;
- Involuntary suspension or termination from the most recent exchange visitor program;
- Failure to maintain valid program status for more than 270 calendar days;
- Receipt of a favorable recommendation from the Department of State on an application for waiver of section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act [8 USC 1182(e)]; or
- Failure to pay the Public Law 104-208 fee.
In some cases, the Responsible Officer may be able to grant you reinstatement in SEVIS. In other situations, the request might have to be made to the U.S. Department of State. Please contact the Responsible Officer to find out your options.
Part of maintaining your J-1 student status is keeping all of your documents safe and current, including the DS-2019, I-94, visa, and passport. In addition to keeping the original documents safe, it is a good idea to keep copies of everything to help speed up the process of recovering lost, stolen, or expired documents. Keep copies of all documents, including all DS-2019 forms issued. Monitor expiration and end dates of DS-2019, visa, and passport.
If your documents are stolen, file a police report and contact the embassy or consulate of your home country immediately. Inform the RO as soon as possible.
If your DS-2019 is lost or stolen, the RO can easily print a new copy. Email the office for a new DS-2019.
The I-94 is an arrival record of visitors to the U.S. There are three types of I-94s:
1) An original I-94 card issued at the Port of Entry (prior to July 2013)
2) On the Change of Status Approval Notice if you changed your status while in the U.S.
3) An electronic entry record (after July 2013)
If you did not receive a hardcopy I-94 when you arrived, you can simply print a copy of the electronic I-94 whenever you need it from www.cbp.gov/I94.
If you lost the paper I-94, you will need to follow these steps to get a new one:
- Complete the I-102 Form.
- Obtain a money order for $445 made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The only way this fee is not required is if the I-94 is filled out incorrectly at no fault of your own.
- Copy your passport, visa, and DS-2019. Provide a copy of the I-94 if you have one. If your I-94 was stolen, you will need a copy of the police report. If you need a name change on your I-94, please write a brief letter explaining what you would like the I-94 to show.
- Mail these items to the USCIS Vermont Service Center.
- You should receive a new I-94 card within sixty to ninety days.
Your passport should always be valid for at least six months into the future. Please contact your local embassy or consulate to replace or renew your passport. If your passport will expire and you plan to return home, renew your passport at home. If you will remain in the U.S., please contact your country's embassy or consulate for more details. You should be able to locate their contact information online at https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-in/united-states.
If your unexpired visa is in the expired passport, travel with both the expired and the new passports.
A visa is a document issued in your home country by the embassy or consulate of the country you plan to visit. You need an unexpired and valid visa to enter the U.S. It is only an entry document. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S., you do not need to renew it until you travel outside of the U.S. again. Visas must always be renewed outside of the U.S. Although the Department of State recommends that you apply for a visa in your home country, you may renew it in another country. Before you travel to a country other than your country of citizenship to apply for a new visa, find out the type of visa you will need to enter that country, if any, and contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate there to find out if they will allow you to renew your visa. This could require a long stay or take a long time to process. If you leave the U.S. without a valid visa, you will not be able to return to the U.S. until you receive a new visa. If your visa is denied, you will not be able to return to the U.S. as a student. The exception to the expired visa rule is travel to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean islands for less than 30 days. Please review the Travel section of this manual for more information.
Most visas are issued for multiple entries to the U.S., but some visas are only good for a single entry. You can find this information by checking the "Entries" section of your visa - (M) for multiple and (1) for single entry.
If your visa was lost or stolen, report it via fax to the issuing embassy post abroad. Visas cannot be replaced while in the United States. When you return home or travel outside of the U.S., you can apply for a replacement visa. Find the consulate or embassy contact information at https://www.usembassy.gov/.
Applying for a visa
You will need the following items to apply for a visa:
- Letter of Support from the RO
- Visa application, DS - 160
- Current DS-2019 with valid travel signature
- All previously issued DS-2019s
- Passport valid for at least six months
- Updated financial support documents
- Proof of home country ties, including but not limited to:
- Proof of property ownership
- Bank accounts
- Significant family relationships