Maintaining J-1 Visa Status

International Student Services provides immigration counseling to Ball State’s J-1 international students. We are experts in the rules and regulations for J-1 students.

We advise our J-1 students, assisting them to maintain legal, lawful status while at Ball State and ensure they are able to qualify for the maximum number of benefits from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Ball State require all international students to take a full course of study each semester to maintain their immigration status. Any student who fails to register for and maintain full-time enrollment must be reported to USCIS by Ball State University as “out of status” which could seriously affect their ability to remain in the U.S. and successfully complete their degree program.

A full course of study for fall and spring semesters is defined as:

  • 12 credit hours for an undergraduate student
  • 9 credit hours for a graduate student
  • 6 credit hours for a graduate student who has an assistantship

The Intensive English Institute (IEI) has rolling admission for its seven-week sessions. Staff at the institute will register you for the program.

For Conditionally Admitted Students

If you are taking academic classes and IEI classes together, you must receive permission from an international student advisor from International Student Services before dropping an academic class.

If you complete IEI level six in March or October, you are required to attend IEI level seven to maintain your J-1 status.

You may return to your home country as an alternative to attending level seven, but you must return to Ball State to begin your academic classes for the next available semester.

If you have questions, please meet with an international student advisor.

J-1 students may, in certain circumstances, reduce their fulltime academic course load to part time. But first consult with an international student advisor.

Update your home address no later than 10 days after moving.

Keep the International Student Services Office and USCIS informed of your current address and telephone number, and notify them within 10 days of any changes.

You must provide the address of where you live – not a P.O. Box or office address.

You are required by the United States government to keep your passport valid at all times, and it must always be valid for at least six months into the future.

The procedures for renewing a passport vary from country to country. For correct information, please contact your embassy or consulate in the United States.

The application process can be a lengthy one, so please give yourself plenty of time to receive your passport before you need to travel outside of the United States.

You must complete all of the requirements for your degree no later than the expected completion date on your DS-2019.

That is your duration of status (d/s) date, unless you complete those studies or lose your status earlier than that date.

If you need more time to complete your program of study than is indicated on your DS-2019, you must submit to your international student advisor a Request for a Program Extension form. You must submit the required funding documentation to receive a new DS-2019 for your extension.


An international student holding a J-1 visa who is unable to meet the program completion date on the DS-2019 may be granted an extension if:
  • the student has continually maintained status
  • the delays are caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses
Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extensions.

You cannot apply for a program extension after your DS-2019 has expired.

Program extensions are approved on a case-by-case basis. If you are approved for an extension, an international student advisor will issue you a new DS-2019 with an updated expected completion date.

You must always secure permission to work, even for jobs at Ball State. As a Ball State J-1 student you may eligible to work on Ball State’s campus. Only degree-seeking students are eligible to work on campus.

Students who are at Ball State as part of an exchange program or for only a semester or academic year are unable to work on campus.

In general, jobs considered as “on-campus employment” are paid from Ball State funds and performed on Ball State property under the supervision of Ball State employees.

Employment is limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session and may be full-time during school vacations.

In the process of arranging for an on-campus job, you may need to speak with your international student advisor about special requirements. For example, a Social Security number is required for employment purposes in the United States.

If Ball State did not issue you your DS-2019, you will need to discuss employment with the issuer of your DS-2019. Please see the employment section for additional information.

Follow transfer procedures if you plan to attend a different school.

Schedule an appointment with an international student advisor by calling 765-285-5422 after you have the following documents:

  • a letter of admission from your new university
  • a transfer form from your new university
  • a complete Ball State Transfer Out Request Form [link to ???]

Before you withdraw or cancel your enrollment, you must inform an international student advisor at International Student Services of this change to your student program.

Withdrawal or cancellation without prior International Student Services approval will result in the loss of student status and should be avoided at all costs.

If informed before the withdrawal, International Student Services may be able to provide you with a 15-day grace period, during which time you would be able to stay lawfully in the U.S. and prepare for departure. If International Student Services is not informed prior to the withdrawal, there is no grace period. Your SEVIS record is terminated, and you will lose you lawful J-1 status. In this case, you must depart the U.S. immediately.

If you wish to return to Ball State University, you must reapply for admission. Please visit International Admissions for details.

Required documents for re-entering the United States in J status

Both J-1 students and their J-2 dependents must have the following documents to re-enter the United States:

  • passports that are valid for six months beyond entry date to the United States
  • valid J-1 or J-2 visas
  • properly endorsed and valid DS-2019
  • documents proving your funds as listed on the DS-2019

How can I get my DS-2019 signed?

Leave your current DS-2019 with the receptionist at the Rinker Center for International Programs two weeks prior to your date of travel. You will receive an email when your DS-2019 has been signed and is ready for pickup at the Rinker Center.

If you wish to travel outside of the U.S. and then return and your visa has expired, you will need to apply for a new J-1 entry visa at an U.S. embassy or consulate general. Students will need to present the following documents to the visa officer:

  • a valid passport (valid at least six months into the future)
  • a properly endorsed valid DS-2019, signed by an international student advisor at ISS
  • any previously issued I-797 approval notices for change of status.
  • documents verifying the financial resources that appear on your DS-2019 (for example, a letter of financial aid, bank statement, letter verifying employment)
The specific embassy or consulate where you apply for your U.S. entry visa may require additional documentation. It is advisable to contact the embassy or consulate prior to your interview to obtain a full list of required documents.

J-2 dependents must also show proof of relationship to the J-1 principal (birth or marriage certificate). The documents, procedures, and processing time required to obtain a visa can vary from post to post.

J-2 dependents are defined as a spouse or an unmarried minor child (under 21 years of age) of a J-1 student.

Immediate family (spouse, minor children) of a J-1 student:

  • may enter the United States with or after the J-1 nonimmigrant, but never before
  • may be employed (see employment for J-2 dependents) [anchor link to page 2.3.1 – J Visa Employment tab]
  • must have a DS-2019 signed when they travel outside the United States, separately from the J-1 student
  • may be admitted as a full-time degree-seeking student
  • may remain in the United States if the J-1 is absent from the United States

J-1 visa holders may invite a spouse or unmarried children to join them after arriving at Ball State by the following method:

  1. Complete the Dependent Request Form Form.
  2. Provide evidence of financial support (bank statement, sponsor letter, etc.) for the dependents: $6,000 for spouse and $6,000 for each child.
  3. Make an appointment with an international student advisor after obtaining proof of financial resources.

International Student Services will prepare a dependent DS-2019 for your dependents who can then use that DS-2019 to apply for a J-2 dependent visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate.

The following items must also accompany the visa application:

  • original or certified copy (attested true copy) of a marriage certificate (for spouse)
  • birth certificate (for each child)
  • financial documentation
When your dependents on a J-2 visa arrive in the United States, you, the J-1 visa holder, they must report to the Rinker Center for International Programs with their passport and DS-2019 for registration.

Certain J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents are required to return either to their country of nationality or country of legal permanent residence and to live there for a period of two years at the conclusion of their exchange visitor program and before they can access certain U.S. immigration benefits.

The aim of this requirement is to allow the home country to profit from the exchange visitor’s experience in the United States.

You are subject if you at least one of the following applies to you:

  • Your J-1 participation is funded in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of exchange, by your home government or the United States government.
  • Your field of work appears on your country’s “Exchange Visitor Skills List.”
  • You participated as a J-1 exchange visitor in a graduate-medical education or training program. For example, a residency, internship, or fellowships, sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.
  • You are the J-2 dependent of an exchange visitor who is subject to the requirement.

If you have ever been subject to the two-year home residency requirement in the past and have neither acquired a waiver nor satisfied the requirement by spending two years in your home country, these guidelines still applies to you – even if a great deal of time has passed and a more recent DS-2019 form indicates that you are not subject to the requirement.

[Breakout]: This means that your field is considered to be in high demand in your home country and important for its future development. The U.S. embassy or consulate where you apply for your visa should be able to tell you if the Exchange Visitor Skills List applies to you; several countries do not appear on the list at all. Other countries, such as China and India, are on the list, and numerous fields of work are considered to be in short supply for those countries.

You may not:

  • change your status inside the United States from J to any other nonimmigrant classification except for A or G
  • change your status from J-1 to J-2 status or from J-2 to J-1
  • change to a permanent resident (obtain a green card)
  • acquire an H, L, or immigrant visa abroad

If you are subject to this requirement, you may leave the U.S. and enter in a new nonimmigrant status such as F-1, B-1, J-1, or O-1.

There are five grounds for obtaining a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement.

If you would like to apply for a waiver, pay particular attention to the timing of your request. After attaining either a waiver recommendation from the U.S. State Department or a final waiver decision from USCIS, you are no longer eligible to extend your J-1 status or transfer to another J-1 program.

You should discuss your plans with an international student advisor before applying for a waiver.


1. A “no-objection” statement (not permitted for medical trainees) – Your country’s embassy in Washington can specify in a direct letter to the State Department that it has no objection to your obtaining a waiver, or the foreign ministry in your home country can write to the U.S. embassy there. A “no-objection” statement will not guarantee a waiver if the exchange visitor has received funding from the U.S. government.

2. Interest of a U.S. government agency – If you are working on a project for or of interest to a U.S. federal government agency, and that agency has determined that your continued stay in the United States is vital to one of its programs, a waiver may be issued if your continued stay in the United States is deemed to be in the public interest.

3. Fear of persecution – If you can prove that because of your race, religion, political opinions, or nationality you would face persecution by your home government if you returned to your country, you could possibly qualify for a waiver by applying to USCIS.

4. Exceptional hardship – If it is possible to demonstrate that exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child would be caused by your departure from the U.S. and residence abroad, you can apply for a waiver to USCIS

5. Request by a designated State Department of Public Health – Only medical doctors may apply for a waiver on this basis.