J-1 Immigration Status

Maintaining your immigration status is your responsibility. We want to help you have the best possible experience during your visitor exchange and we offer plenty of information and guidelines here on this page. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the OISVS if you have any questions or need further assistance.

Maintaining your immigration status is your responsibility. We want to help you have the best possible experience during your visitor exchange and we offer plenty of information and guidelines here on this page. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the OISVS if you have any questions or need further assistance.

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Welcome to the U.S.!

All international students are required by U.S. law to abide by the immigration regulations throughout their stay in the U.S. Failure to take appropriate measures to abide by the conditions of your non-immigrant status could result in penalties for violations of the law, such as deportation and five and ten-year bars from reentry to the U.S. It is your responsibility to understand the laws and rules given by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the University. The staff at the Office of International Students and Visiting Scholars (OISVS) is available to advise you on immigration issues related to your J-1 Exchange Visitor status. However, it is the student and not the university who is ultimately responsible for remaining aware of and abiding by the regulations and maintaining legal student status.

On this page you can learn about

  1. Maintaining your immigration status.
  2. Working off campus.
  3. Violating and the consequences for your immigration status

Requirements to maintain your J-1 status at ACU

Check-In with the Office of International Students and Visiting Scholars (OISVS) and attend INTL101: Orientation for New International Students

  • Complete the immigration check-in with the OISVS either:
    • At the designated check-in time and location or 
    • Within the first 5 days of the semester in order to maintain your status. 
    • The OISVS office for immigration is in room 124 of the Hardin Administration Building. 
  • Bring the following items with you:
    • Valid DS-2019 from ACU, Valid Passport and J-1 visa
    • Your Abilene address, phone number, ACU email address, and emergency contacts.
    • Valid I-94 from the most recent entry into the U.S. (print to pdf or paper from https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home). We can assist you with this at the check-in.
  • Exchange visitors (J-1) are required to attend a 3-part orientation

Learn more about the items mentioned here at our Incoming Students page HERE.


  • You will be enrolled in the GeoBlue group health insurance each semester.
  • This policy meets the U.S. Department of State requirements
  • Undergraduates must complete at least 12 credit hours every Fall and Spring in an ACU residential program.
    Online classes do not count toward the 12 hour, full-time enrollment requirement each semester but exchange visitors may take as many online courses as desired in addition to the 12 hours of face-to-face classes.
  • No hours are required during summer break if you intend to register for the next Fall term.
  • Authorization for a reduced course load (RCL) may be possible for several reasons if it is obtained from the RO BEFORE you drop the course.
    Talk to OISVS if you are having difficulties in a class to see if you qualify to drop below full-time.


Extensions of your DS-2019 will be dependent upon your sponsor.

Meet with the sponsor and your RO one semester prior to your end date. 

  • A change of major (if permitted by your sponsor), level, name or citizenship
  • Any change of address or phone (local or permanent) within 10 days of moving.
  • When you have completed your degree.
  • On-campus employment is authorized through the RO for 12 months for students in good academic standing.
  • Off-campus internships and practicums require work authorization from the RO in advance.
  • Please note that J-1 work authorization is very different from F-1 work authorization.
  • Refer to the OISVS website and the RO for details

Make normal academic progress toward the completion of your degree and complete by the end date of your document.

Failure to request the extension by the DS-2019 end date will result in the loss of your legal student status in the US.


View the ACU Student Handbook HERE  

Re-entry to the U.S. could be denied if your DS-2019 is not signed.  

If you are given a form I-515 upon entry to the U.S., come to the OISVS immediately to file the appropriate documents within the 30-day deadline, or your record will be terminated by DHS.

Transfers to another institution must be approved by the sponsor and the new institution. Be sure to meet with the RO to discuss this ahead of time.

Please meet with the RO before you leave at the end of your program. Let the RO know about your involvement in cultural and academic exchange activities at ACU.

The OISVS will send important messages through ACU email only.

Failure to check your email daily could result in serious consequences.

J-1 Students Working Off Campus

The main opportunity for J-1 students off-campus is through Academic Training, a benefit J-1 students may apply to receive in order to gain experience in employment directly related to their major field of study work. Each J-1 student may request up to 18 months of academic training either during their studies or immediately after completion. Timing is important, so speak with Lucy a semester before you hope to apply.

Note for the 2022/23 academic year: Students in STEM fields who graduate by May of 2023 may be eligible for an additional 18 months of academic training. Contact the OISVS for more information.

J-1 students who experience serious, urgent, and unforeseen economic circumstances that have arisen since acquiring exchange visitor status may be eligible for off-campus work authorization. It must be authorized prior to engaging in any employment. Speak with OISVS for more information.

Immigration Violations

  • Not maintaining the required health insurance at any point while in 
  • J-1 status.
  • Not meeting the enrollment requirements as outlined above
  • Remaining in the U.S. beyond your document or program dates.
  • Working on or off-campus
    • without authorization
    • on-campus more than 20 hrs/week (during the Fall and Spring semesters.)
    • This includes any remote or online work paid by outside sources
  • Dropping below full time, starting an internship or taking a leave of absence without prior RO approval.
  • Violating ACU policies resulting in suspension; or violating the laws of the U.S.

Examples:  Breaking laws regarding drug use, sexual assault or pornography 

  • ACU is required to terminate your SEVIS record, essentially reflecting the end of your legal immigration status in the U.S., and subjecting you to possible deportation.
  • Under some circumstances, you may apply for a reinstatement to be put back into lawful status. If you are denied reinstatement, you will be required to leave the U.S. immediately. Speak to the RO about this.

You must leave the U.S. when

  • You complete your program successfully (even if earlier than document end date);
  • You have ended your enrollment as a student, or been suspended by the university;
  • You are denied a reinstatement or have failed to otherwise maintain your student status.