Are you an international student participating in an exchange program with government, organizational, or university sponsorship? If so, you will travel with a J visa.
J Student Visa
Applying For a J-1 Visa
If Northeastern is sponsoring your J-1 visa, the Office of Global Services (OGS) will be in touch to process your DS-2019. If Northeastern is not the organization sponsoring your visa (Fulbright or Science Without Borders, for example), then your exchange organization will prepare your DS-2019 and send it to you. With the DS-2019, you may start the visa application process:
- Check your passport’s validity. It must be valid for at least six months into the future
- Pay the SEVIS fee
- Gather supporting documents for the visa interview
- Make an appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a visa interview.
Remember that the DS-2019 does not guarantee a U.S. exchange visa. At your interview, you will be asked about your study plans, ties to your home country, future career objectives, and how you will fund your education in the United States.
Maintaining Your J-1 Immigration Status
To comply with the terms of your J-1 visa, please
- Arrive before, but no earlier than 30 days, the start date on your DS-2019
- Check in with Office of Global Services (OGS) by filling out the online OGS check-in form upon arrival
- Participate in OGS and Northeastern orientations
- Enroll in full-time study and make progress towards completing your studies — 12 credit hours per academic term for undergraduates and 8-9 credit hours per academic term for graduate students. Only one three- to four-credit hour online course per academic term may count towards full-time study, and students must maintain an on-the-ground presence throughout each required term
- Drop courses or change program of study only after receiving OGS approval
- Change local U.S. and home country address in MyNEU and inform your exchange organization within 10 days of moving
- Maintain medical insurance following U.S. Department of State and state of Massachusetts guidelines during your program
- Ensure your phone number and emergency contact information is updated in MyNEU
- Keep your passport valid at least six months into the future
- Follow University Health and Counseling Services (UHCS) procedures if you need to apply for a medical leave of absence
- Check the OGS homepage and your Husky email account periodically for any immigration reminders, updates, and regulation changes from OGS
The spouse and children under age 21 of a J-1 visa holder receive J-2 visas and are called dependents for visa purposes. If Northeastern University is not sponsoring your visa, your exchange organization will prepare individual DS-2019s for your dependents who may apply for J-2 visa at the same time you apply for the J-1 visa or at a later date if you plan to travel separately. Dependents do not pay a SEVIS fee. J-2 visa holders may work during their stay in the United States with permission from the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). See the OGS J-2 Employment Guidelines for further details. Your spouse with a J-2 visa may study on a full- or part-time basis, and children with J-2 status may attend elementary, middle, and high school during the J-1 visa holder’s period of study.
Traveling Outside the United States
If you travel outside the United States during your period of study, you will need
- Your DS-2019 form signed by your exchange visitor program or by the OGS, depending on who sponsors your program. Check the criteria to see if you need a new travel signature as you make your travel preparations. The OGS holds first-come-first-served sessions for travel signatures in Boston. In Seattle, please contact the OGS for scheduling. Another option is to submit the OGS Travel Signature request form and your I-20 to OGS. Allow five business days for travel signature processing.
- Your passport, valid for at least six months into the future, with your unexpired J-1 visa
- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) list of travel tips
Traveling Inside the United States
If you travel within the United States, you should carry your passport, Form DS-2019, and I-94 with you. The I-94 is your arrival/departure record and maintained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection from information you give on arrival at U.S. immigration. Always print your I-94 each time you arrive back in the United States and carry it with you when traveling. If you entered the United States by land, you will have a paper I-94. Keep this document with your passport and visa.
Transfers and Leaving Northeastern
If you plan to transfer to another academic institution, the Transfer Out Form has specific instructions for students who are transferring from Northeastern University to another institution.
Your J-1 visa allows you a 30-day grace period after completion of studies to prepare to return home.
Two-year Home Residency Requirement
As a J-1 visa holder whose studies have been sponsored by the U.S. government, your own government, if your studies involved specialized knowledge or skills deemed necessary by your home country, or if you received graduate medical training, you must wait two years following the completion of your exchange visitor program before applying for an immigrant or certain non-immigrant visas. The DS-2019 form and J visa stamp will have the details, and your sponsoring organization can explain those details to you.