Scholars & Employees

J-1 Status Information - Maintaining Status

J-1 Exchange Visitor Rules

All J Exchange Visitors must be aware of and comply with the following rules in order to successfully maintain J visa status in the United States. Rules for J Students differ from J Scholars and can be found at the "J Student" page.

In order to obtain your I-94 number, please go to Enter the required information and print out a copy for your records. You will need the I-94 number if you wish to apply for a driver’s license, a state photo I.D., or social security number.

You must report any changes to your contact information to the Office of International Affairs and USCIS within 10 days of the change. This includes any changes to your address, telephone number and email address.

To report your change of contact information to the Office of International Affairs, simply email our office at, or stop by to complete an information update form.

To report your change of address to USCIS either by paper or online, go to:

  1. Notify the Office of International Affairs of your desire to change status in the United States. 

    DO NOT OBTAIN A WAIVER of the 212e UNTIL you have consulted with the Office of International Affairs first.
    J-1 Extensions are NOT permitted by the Department of State after a waiver has been obtained
  2. Obtain appropriate immigration documents for the desired status (consult with the Office of International Affairs).
  3. Complete Form I-539 (PDF) and other USCIS forms required for the new status.

The State of Pennsylvania allows you to use your country's driver's license for up to one year to drive in Pennsylvania only. If you live or drive in another state, you must abide by their driving regulations. 

If you apply for an international driver’s permit before you arrive in the U.S., you may use it in conjunction with your country’s driver license for one year in Pennsylvania. The permit is helpful in case you encounter any traffic issues or violations.

A driver's license can also serve as a state photo I.D., but a state photo I.D. cannot be used as a license to drive.

If you decide to apply for a Pennsylvania driver’s license or state photo I.D., you will need a social security card (or rejection letter), proof of PA residency and other documents.

When you arrive at the port of entry, make sure that the immigration officer stamps your passport with the date of entry, “J-1” and “D/S” (Duration of Status). D/S is the length of time for which you may stay in J status in the United States as long as you comply with all immigration regulations. D/S is based on your program completion date, plus a 30-day grace period. You may extend the D/S by applying for an extension.

You are only permitted to do the activity that is indicated on your DS-2019. If you are interested in accepting other kinds of work or compensation during your stay, you must obtain permission from the Office of International Affairs before you receive payment from or provide services to a U.S. entity. Do not accept any unauthorized employment.

The J-1 Research Scholar/Professor may extend the program up to 5 years from the original start date on the DS-2019. With the DS-2019 extension, their J-1 status is extended in the U.S., allowing the J-1 Research Scholar/Professor to continue staying and working in the U.S. The J-1 visa renewal is unnecessary as it requires the J-1 Research Scholar/Professor to travel out of the country to apply at the U.S. embassy or consulate. The J-1 visa renewal is only advised when international travel is necessary.

For the DS-2019 extension, the sponsoring department must submit a request through the International Services Portal. It is advised to submit the complete request at least 3 weeks before the end date of the DS-2019. If the J-1 Scholar/Professor is signed up for health insurance outside of Jefferson Network, proof of health insurance must be provided meeting the minimum standards.

All J-1 Exchange Visitors and any family members accompanying in J-2 status must be covered by health insurance that meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of State. Willful failure to comply with this requirement will result in the termination of your J-1 program. Brochures for health insurance plans are available at the Office of International Affairs. Please go to the J-1 Health Insurance page for more information and options.

J-1 short-term scholars have total of up to 6 months in their program plus the 30-day grace period. This status is not extendable after 6 months.

The Social Security Administration must see proof in their system that the Office of International Affairs has validated your immigration record with the Department of Homeland Security. Therefore, you may apply for a Social Security Number AFTER you check-in with the Office of International Affairs. Social Security applications and instructions will be provided during your check-in orientation.

If at any time you would like to transfer to another institution or even another laboratory at Thomas Jefferson University, you must visit the Office of International Affairs before you make any changes.

During your J-1 program, if you wish to travel outside of the United States, you must visit the Office of International Affairs with your DS-2019 BEFORE you leave so that we can provide a travel validation signature. Your passport must also be valid. You can renew your passport at your country’s embassy or consulate in the United States.

J-1 Scholars that travel outside of the U.S. for more 30 days must submit a J-1 Out-of-Country Request in the International Services Portal to be approved by the Office of International Affairs. J-1 Out-of-Country is available only when the travel is necessary for continuing the research or teaching activities listed in your J-1 program.

J-1 Scholars must maintain their health insurance to meet the minimum regulatory requirements. They must also provide their updated contact information and their flight schedule to the OIA, the sponsoring department, and HR.

A J-1 Out-of-Country Request is not required for any travel outside of the U.S. for less than 30 days.

Your visa is the large photo stamp in your passport. The visa expiration is the date up to which you are permitted to enter or re-enter the United States—it is NOT an indication of the length of permission to stay.

You only need to renew your visa if you are going to travel outside of the U.S. and then return to the U. S. after the expiration date on the visa page in your passport. All visa renewals must be obtained at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside of the United States.

Your J-1 status and DS-2019 expire when you finish your research or teaching program, regardless of the end date listed on your current DS-2019.  

Once you finish your J-1 program, you have a 30-day grace period to prepare for departure or tour the U.S. In the future, if you would like to repeat the J-1 research scholar/professor program, you must wait 2 years from the end date recorded in SEVIS. You may apply for other visa statuses.

This 2-year bar does not apply to J-1 short-term scholars.

Before you end your program, please inform our office (the Office of International Affairs).

The 2-year home country physical presence (foreign residence) requirement—or INA Section 212(e)—only applies to certain J-1 exchange visitors. This rule is DIFFERENT from the 2-year bar above. If you are subject to Section 212(e), and are thinking about applying for the H-1B or L-1 status, or a green card, you must first fulfill this requirement by living in your home country/foreign residence for 2 years, or can request a waiver from the government of your home country/foreign residence.