J-1 Status

Terra Dotta Fall 2020 Implementation Announcement: We have recently implemented quite a few Terra Dotta versions of the requests listed below. You may want to familiarize yourself with which requests are open and accepting requests at https://iss.tamu.edu/terra-dotta. Reminder, ISS plans to move away from requests submitted outside of the TDS system for most requests effective October 1st. Please plan accordingly.

All persons with non-immigrant status in the United States are required to have a valid passport at all times. A valid passport is a legal document issued by the home country of a non-immigrant that permits travel to the U.S. along with a valid visa. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future. Please note that a valid passport does not guarantee entry into the United States; however, a valid passport along with other required immigration documents enables a non-immigrant to travel to the U.S. Port of Entry to request entry into the United States. As a non-immigrant, you must adhere to the terms associated with your status. A valid and current passport is required for all F-1 and J-1 students. Failure to have a valid passport could impact your immigration status. ISS may not be able to process any new request for you until you renew your passport or show that you are in the process of renewing your passport.

How do I renew my passport?
  • You may be able to renew your passport inside the United States at the local Embassy or Consulate of your home country or you can renew through your home country government. You must contact your home country government for specific instructions on how to renew your passport.
  • Students with a valid, unexpired visa in an expired passport may still use that visa if they have the old passport. Students must remember to carry and present the old passport along with the new passport when traveling.
  • For a list of foreign consular offices in the United States, visit the website of your home country’s diplomatic mission or the U.S. Department of State website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/consularnotification/ConsularNotificationandAccess.html
Dependent Passports
International Student Services is not required to maintain records of your dependents’ passport, once you have completed the dependent check in process for them. While it is not required, it is highly recommended that you provide ISS with a copy if they renew their passport. If your dependent has renewed their passport please submit a copy of the picture page and/or renewal page as per the program instructions.

What to do after Renewing your Passport
Please complete the Passport Renewal program in Terra Dotta at https://tamu-iss.terradotta.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=Students.Apply&Program_ID=10052

What is the Document Replacement Request Form? This form should be completed by any F-1 or J-1 student requesting a replacement of a lost or damaged I-20 or DS-2019 for themselves or any of their dependents. This form can also be used by any F-1 or J-1 student requesting a copy of a previous I-20 or DS-2019 for themselves or any of their dependents.

Required Documents: 

Deadlines: These documents should be submitted as soon as possible upon finding your documents have been damaged or lost.
What is the Program Information Update Request Form? This form should be submitted by any F-1 or J-1 student with an I-20 or DS-2019 issued by Texas A&M University who is changing degree level and/or major without graduating from their current program.

Required Documents: 

Deadlines: This form must be submitted directly after a Program Information Update has been processed and approved by the university.

Department of State regulation 22 C.F.R. § 62.23(g)(2) states that a J-1 students may engage in on campus employment as provided in paragraph (g)(1) of this section ifare in good standing at that school and they are maintaining legal non-immigrant status.Click here for more details.
The  U.S. State Department allows J-1 students ("student" category on the DS-2019) to engage in Academic Training during or after completion of an academic program when the student:
  • Is in the U.S. primarily to study rather than to engage in Academic Training;
  • Is or will be participating in training that is directly related to his/her field of study listed on the DS-2019 (i.e. it cannot be changing a degree plan to accommodate an employment offer and calling it an internship);
  • Is in good academic standing and in a legal program status;
  • Participates in training that is an integral or critical part of his/her academic program;
  • Receives, before beginning the training, written authorization from the Responsible or Alternate Responsible Officer (RO/ARO) of the J-1 program.  International Student Services (ISS) Advisors are the AROs who can authorize the training if Texas A&M issued the Form DS-2019;
  • Sponsored students must see a Sponsored Student Programs (SSP) Advisor before applying.  Students with DS-2019 issued by agencies other than Texas A&M University will receive instructions from SSP;
         Click HERE for more information
Students who are unable to graduate by the expiration date of their Ds2019 will need to submit paperwork for an extension of stay. Proof of financial resources are required to apply for an extension of stay. Refer to the Financial Resources section of our web site for more information
and the Extension of Stay Handout.
Any J-1 student who wishes to drop below full-time enrollment should complete the form below. The authorized exceptions to the full course of study requirement and the rules for reduced course load are included in this Reduced Course Load Handout.
Current Texas A&M students that would like to be released in SEVIS to transfer to another school or university in the U.S. need to complete the Transfer Release Form.
International students should not withdraw or take a leave of absence from Texas A&M University without first speaking with ISS about the consequences of this action. An Authorized Early Withdrawal form should be completed by all F-1 students who intend to withdraw or take a leave of absence from the University and depart the United States. Please schedule an appointment with an ISS advisor to submit or discuss the Authorized Early Withdrawal Form.
J-1 students are eligible to invite their spouse or children to come to the United States as a J-2 dependent.

If the dependent is currently outside the United States please refer to the J-1 Invitation of Dependents Handout for a list of the documents to be submitted to the ISS office. Please refer to the Financial Resources page since Finances are required.

If the dependent is currently inside the United States in another visa category, the J-1 will need to schedule an appointment with an ISS adivsor to discuss the options and further information regarding a change of status to J-2.

Re-Entry to the United States
There are several steps you should take before leaving the United States in order to be eligible to re-enter the United States with J-1 status.
  1. Be in legal J-1 status.  Make sure that your SEVIS record is Active and has not expired.
  2. Have your DS-2019 signed for travel by an Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO)/International Student Advisor.  The signature is valid for one year. 
  3. All the information on your DS-2019 is up-to-date including your major and degree level. 
  4. Have a valid J-1 visa (this excludes Canadian citizens).  Please see the visa renewal section for further information.
  5. Your passport will be valid for at least six months in advance from the point of return.
To request a travel signature please refer to the Travel Signature Request Form  
Travelling to a Third Country

If you are travelling to a third country, check with that country’s embassy to determine if you need a visa to enter that country.  https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-in/united-states


Texas A&M University is closely monitoring coronavirus COVID-19.  Please review the latest updates at https://www.tamu.edu/coronavirus/ and http://iss.tamu.edu/Current-Students/Traveling-and-Coronavirus before traveling outside the United States.  It is important that you also report your travel in the Texas A&M Travel Portal located at the main University coronavirus page
Please visit following link to get your most recent I-94: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home
 Visa Renewal
If you need to renew your visa while outside the United States, please the following into consideration. 
  1. Plan ahead.  It could take a considerable amount of time to renew the visa.  You can check the processing times at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/wait-times.html
  2. Know what documentation to take with you.  ISS recommends taking at least a transcript, a letter of academic status from your academic department if possible, proof of financial support, standardized test scores, passport and DS-2019.  For more information regarding the required documentation, go to https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/study/exchange.html.  Also check the embassy or consulate web page to determine if additional information or documentation is needed.
  3. If you are a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) major, then you may want to have information about your research available.  A letter from your academic advisor explaining your program or research subject in plain English at the time of your interview may be helpful.
  4. Schedule your appointment at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate, https://www.usembassy.gov/
Arrival at the U.S. port of entry
  1. Be sure to have your documentation with you and readily available.  Do not put your DS-2019 or passport in your suitcase. 
  2. Be aware of the U.S. rules and restrictions regarding immigration, customs and agriculture. 
    1. Monetary - https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/kbyg/money
    2. Prohibited and Restricted Items - https://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/know-before-you-go/prohibited-and-restricted-items
    3. Bringing food to the United States - https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/agricultural-items
    4. Watch this video regarding the port of entry process, https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/video-gallery/2015/01/youve-arrived.
  3. Make sure that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer processed you in as a student on the J-1 visa and gave you J-1 status on your I-94 form, https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home.  Your passport and I-94 should be marked “J-1” and “D/S” (duration of status).
  4. It is possible that if the CBP officer cannot determine your status immediately, you may be sent to secondary inspection.  https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/what-is-secondary-inspection
  5. If you do not have your paperwork in order, the CBP officer could allow you to enter the United States with a form I-515A.  If you receive this form, you need to bring it to ISS as soon as possible.  It must be processed and received by the Department of Homeland Security within 30 days.  https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/what-is-a-form-i-515a
Deferred Inspection
If your travel history information is outdated on your electronic I-94 record, your I-94 record itself is incorrect, or you cannot locate your I-94 record online, first review the information and resources provided at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home for online help.
If you cannot resolve this online, then you will want to contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Deferred Inspections Office, which is a unit within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).   https://www.cbp.gov/contact/deferred-inspection/overview-deferred-inspection

Houston, Texas Deferred Inspection Location
Address: 19581 Lee Road, Humble, TX 77338
Phone: 281-443-4350 extension 221 OR 281-230-4600 extension 1
Fax: 281-443-0241

If you call Deferred Inspection, have your immigration documents with you.  Ask if they can assist you with correcting your record.  You can also email them at CBPHOUI94@cbp.dhs.gov for assistance.
CBP may require you to appear in person to resolve your case.
Visa Delay
If your visa is delayed in being issued, please inform ISS, your on-campus employer and your academic department.  If the reason for the delay is because of administrative processing, please note that ISS and Texas A&M University cannot speed the process up.  

Delays in visa issuance could be caused the situation in the country, status issues, country of citizenship or major.  If you are a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) major, then you may want to have information about your research available.  A letter from your academic advisor explaining your program or research subject in plain English at the time of your interview may be helpful.

If the delay is caused by administrative processing, please be aware that there is little that University can do to find out what is causing the delay.  The Department of State will not release information to the school or to anyone besides the applicant.  The National Visa Center (NVC) is available to answer questions concerning nonimmigrant visas.  You can contact the NVC at 603-334-0888 from 7 am to 12 am EST, Monday through Friday (excluding holidays).  The Department of State recommends you wait at least 60 days from the visa interview before inquiring about delays caused by administrative processing.

According to the Department of State, “Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case.” https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/administrative-processing-information.html

Visa Denial
If your visa is denied, do not panic. Calmly ask the reason for the denial.  You should also receive written notification of the denial reason. Several of the reasons for denials are listed at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/visa-denials.html.  Good advice is also available at this web page.
Send an email to iss@tamu.edu and include the facts of your interview, such as what questions were you asked, what were your answers, what documentation did you bring to the interview, and what did the consulate officer tell you.  Be sure to include the letter you were given explaining the visa denial.  ISS will then advise you on your options.

If you believe that you have fallen out of J-1 immigration status please schedule an appointment to speak with an ISS advisor by calling our office at 979-845-1824. We recommend that you refer to the J-1 Reinstatement Handout for further information.

International Student Services: 110 Pavilion Phone: 845-1824, Fax: 862-4633, Website: http://iss.tamu.edu, E-mail: iss@tamu.edu.  International Student Services (ISS) is an advocate for international students at Texas A&M University (TAMU).  ISS advisors are available to answer your questions, especially questions involving immigration issues, while you are a student.  However, it is your responsibility to maintain your legal status.

Maintaining Your J-1 Status

Below are some of the most common J-1 regulations. Failure to follow J-1 regulations may result in the termination of your J-1 status. This handout is written for J-1 students on TAMU DS-2019s; however, the regulations also apply for students on DS-2019 issued by another institution or agency. If your DS-2019 was issued by TAMU, then please consult ISS for further information.  If another institution or agency issued your DS-2019, please consult that institution or agency for further information.
A. Pursue your Objective
You must pursue the objective listed on the DS-2019.  Do not change or add to your objective (major, degree level, etc) or category (e.g. student to researcher) prior to getting special authorization from both ISS and your financial sponsor.
B. Keep your documents up to date
  1. DS-2019: Do not let your DS-2019 expire.  If you need an extension to the completion date on the DS-2019, please apply for an Extension of Stay.  If your DS-2019 was issued from another institution or agency than TAMU, please consult them concerning your extension. Keep all of your DS-2019s for your records.
  2. Passport: Do not let your passport expire.  You should extend your passport six months prior to the expiration date at your country's Consulate in the United States or when you go back home.  You cannot work with an expired passport.
  3. I-94 Card or I-797: Keep your I-94 card.  It must state "J-1" and "D/S" (Duration of Status). Your dependents’ I-94s must state "J-2" and "D/S".  If you have an expiration date on your I-94 card, then you should speak to an ISS advisor immediately.
  4. Visa Stamp: It is okay for your visa to expire while you are in the United States; however, you may need to renew it if you travel outside the U.S.  Pay attention to the number of entries into the United States you are allowed.  After your first entry to the U.S. in J-1 status, it is acceptable for your visa to have another school's name on it.  Please contact ISS for information concerning going to Mexico or Canada with an expired visa.
  1. Note: Do not enter the United States on a tourist (B) visa, the visa waiver program, or on a border-crossing card.  You will no longer be on a J-1 visa and you will lose all J-1 visa benefits such as work authorization.
  1. U.S. Address: Update both ISS and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of any physical address changes while maintaining legal immigration status (Post Office Boxes are not acceptable for reporting purposes).  Reporting changes of address in the Howdy Portal (http://howdy.tamu.edu) will fulfill this requirement, as the University will forward the updated address electronically to DHS.  Failure to do so could result in losing legal immigration status and being required to leave the United States.
  2. International Address: Maintain a permanent address outside the United States to which you intend to return.
C. Maintain Full-time Enrollment
You must enroll for the following number of credit hours each semester.
Student Credit Hours for Fall and Spring Credit Hours for Summer
TAMU Graduate Students 9
TAMU Undergraduate Students 12 8
If you need to fall below the required number of credit hours, you must apply for and obtain authorization from ISS for a Reduced Course Load prior to dropping below hours.
If summer is your first semester at TAMU, first semester in a new academic program, or last semester in your academic program, you must register full-time.  Summer is considered vacation time if it is not your first or last semester and when summer is considered vacation time you are not required to take classes for immigration purposes.  Please consult your academic department concerning university rules on summer registration.
If you want to take classes at another U.S. school in conjunction with your TAMU classes, then you need to request Co-Enrollment authorization from ISS.  As a J-1 student, the courses for which you enroll at the other U.S. school will not count toward your full-time enrollment and therefore should be in addition to your full-time enrollment at TAMU. If you wish to enroll only at another U.S. during the summer, then you will need to request Other School Enrollment authorization.
Distance learning or online education courses are permitted but they do not count towards the fulfillment of your full-time enrollment requirement for each semester.
D. Obtain Work Authorization
Work authorization is dependent on your legal J-1 status and your enrollment at Texas A&M University.
On-Campus Work
As long as you are in legal J-1 status and meet TAMU requirements, you may apply for ISS authorization to work on campus. If approved, you may work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the Spring and Fall semesters and full-time during vacation periods and during the summer term. Visit http://iss.tamu.edu/Current-Students/J-1-Status/J-1-Students for information about how to obtain on-campus work authorization.
Off-Campus Work
You must get proper work authorization prior to working off-campus.  You will be out of status and eligible for deportation if you work without DHS authorization.  Do not risk it.   Work is considered anything for which you are compensated, such as being given cash, food, or room/board.
Consult the ISS website or visit with an ISS advisor for information about Academic Training or economic hardship work authorization.
E. Maintain Adequate Health Insurance
You are required to maintain adequate health, accident and repatriation insurance at all times for you and all of your dependents.  You lose your J-1 status if you willfully do not maintain the required insurance.  You must also maintain enough money for airfare home. 
F. Traveling outside the United States while you are a student
Your DS-2019 should be signed by an ISS advisor (if your DS-2019 was issued by TAMU) before you leave the U.S.  The signature is valid for up to one year or until you graduate or your DS-2019 expires, whichever comes first.  Be sure that you enter the U.S. on your J-1 visa.  Do not enter the U.S. on a tourist (B) visa, the visa waiver program, or on a border-crossing card.  You will no longer be on a J-1 visa and you will lose all J-1 visa benefits such as work authorization.  Always make sure your I-94 card is marked "J-1" and "D/S".  If you are given a 30-day entry, consult ISS right away.  If you are going to be outside of the U.S. during a major semester for 30 days or more, please consult an ISS advisor prior to leaving the U.S. to discuss how your travel plans may impact your J-1 status.
G. Dependents
You may bring your dependents (spouse and/or unmarried children under age 21) to the United States as J-2 dependents.  Refer to the Invitation of Dependents information on the ISS website for details about how to do so. There are no restrictions on a J-2 visa holder’s ability to study in the U.S.  Eligible dependents on a J-2 visa may apply for work authorization from DHS. J-2 visa holders are also required to have health insurance coverage at all times while in status.  Dependents must travel with the proper paperwork, such as their DS-2019 signed for travel.
H. Two-Year Home Residency Requirement
You and your dependents may be subject to the two-year home residency requirement.  Please consult ISS for information on the ramifications of the residency requirement.

The US government requires individuals applying for a J-1 exchange visitor visa or J-1 status to pay the SEVIS fee in order to begin a program of study or exchange visitor program, change status, change exchange visitor category, or be reinstated to legal status after a substantive violation.  For further information regarding the SEVIS fee, please visit http://iss.tamu.edu/Prospective-Students/Applying-for-Visa/Immigration-Requirements.‚Äč

J-1 Immigration basics handout