Guide for Maintaining J-1 Status


Review the information below for an overview on maintaining J-1 status. For more information on specific J-1 student requests, please check the drop down menu on the left side of the page. 

Entering the U.S. and Orientation

  • Enter the United States no more than 30 days before your program start date.
  • Complete electronic check-in and attend International Orientation upon arrival in Ames, no later than your program start date.


  • Register for a full-time course load every semester.
  • Summer is a vacation period and enrollment is not required unless it is your first or final semester. If summer is your first or final semester, you must enroll full time or be approved for a reduced course load (RCL). 

Full-Time Enrollment Definitions

 UndergraduateGraduate without AssistantshipGraduate with AssistantshipIEOP
Fall/Spring12 credits9 creditsDetermined by department20 clock hours*


(If Summer is first or last semester at ISU)

6 credits4.5 creditsDetermined by department18 clock hours


(If continuing student)

Enrollment is not requiredEnrollment is not required by regulations; Check with Graduate College for their policies, if on assistantshipIf enrolled Spring I and II, enrollment is not required

*Regulations state 18 clock hours, but IEOP policy is 20 clock hours

  • If you cannot enroll full time because of academic, medical, or other reasons, speak with your faculty/academic adviser and ISSO adviser BEFORE dropping classes. 
  • No online course can count toward full-time enrollment. 
  • Make normal progress toward completing your degree, avoiding academic probation, suspension, or dismissal.


  • Do not work more than 20 hours on-campus, except during breaks. 
    • J-1 students are authorized to work on-campus starting their first semester at ISU.
  • Do not work off-campus unless you have authorization from ISSO.
    • J-1 students are eligible to apply for off-campus work permission through ISSO.

Passport and DS-2019

  • If you will be unable to complete your degree by the end date on your DS-2019, speak to your ISSO Advisor about a program extension BEFORE your DS-2019 expires.
  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months into the future while you are in the U.S.


  • If you plan to travel outside the U.S., make sure your visa is valid and that you have a current travel signature on your DS-2019.  Travel signatures expire in one year from the date signed.
  • Carry copies of your immigration documents (valid passport with visa page, I-94, DS-2019, and an EAD if applicable) on your person while in Ames.  Carry the originals when you travel. 

Leaving the University/After Program Completion

  • Inform ISSO if you plan to:
    • Transfer to a new school
    • Take a leave of absence
    • Take a break from school
    • Change educational levels at ISU
  • Begin a new program of study, transfer to a new school, begin employment with Academic Training authorization, change your immigration status, OR depart the United States within 30 days of your DS-2019 end date (or date that you have completed all degree requirements, whichever is earlier). 
    • If you are transferring or doing a change of status, speak to ISSO BEFORE your DS-2019 expires.
    • Undergraduate students will have their DS-2019 shortened to the end of their final semester.
    • Non-thesis/creative component graduate students will have their DS-2019 shortened to the end of their final semester of coursework.
    • Thesis/creative component graduate students will have their DS-2019 shortened to the end of the semester in which they defend.
    • Academic and immigration program completion dates are often very different—speak with an ISSO Advisor if you have questions about your immigration status.
  • Summer Graduates
    • If you will complete your degree requirements during a summer semester, please be aware of the following requirements:
      • You must be enrolled in at least one course that is considered on campus.
      • You must be enrolled full-time unless you have an approved Reduced Course Load form.

Reporting to the University

  • Inform ISSO of important changes within 10 days, including:
    • Address (update in AccessPlus)
    • Major
    • Program
    • Degree level
    • Phone number


  • Avoid being involved in any activities that may lead to being arrested and potentially convicted of a crime.
  • J-1 students must be enrolled in health insurance for the entirety of their J-1 program.

Disclaimer: This Frequently Asked Questions is intended for general information and guidance. As this information can quickly become outdated or may not apply to your situation, please consult with an International Student Advisor in the International Students and Scholars Office regarding your individual questions.