Immigration Rights, Rules & Responsibilities of International Students in J-1 Visa Classification

The information on these pages is intended to convey a basic understanding of the important rights or benefits you have in relation to U.S. immigration regulations and of your responsibility for maintaining lawful immigration status as an Exchange Visitor.

Failure to Comply with Responsibilities

  • If you fail to comply with your immigration responsibilities, you may not be eligible for benefits associated with the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program and, in some situations, may be subject to deportation.  
  • Further information on the rights and responsibilities of students in J-1 Exchange Visitor Classification, as well as counseling and assistance, is available from the International Services

Registration and Course Load

You are required by immigration regulation to register as a full-time student at the University of Indianapolis, while school is in session. Summer enrollment at University of Indianapolis is optional in most degree programs.

  • For undergraduate students, full-time is defined as a minimum of 12 credits per semester.
  • For graduate students the requirement is 9 credits (6 credits if on a full assistantship) or registration for Master's Thesis or Doctoral Research.

You may request authorization to register less than full-time under limited circumstances if you:

  • will complete studies by the end of the school term and do not need a full course load in order to graduate;
  • suffer one-time-only special circumstances such as illness, academic difficulties, etc.;
  • are participating in authorized Academic Training.
Reduced Course Load Form

Transfer to a Different School

You may be able to transfer from your present school to a different school if you qualify and follow certain procedures.

  • Consult the International Services to notify them that you are planning to transfer and to see if you qualify.  
  • Representatives of the new institution must complete a new Form DS-2019 and send it to the International Services in order to obtain a signature releasing you from sponsorship.

Completion of Program

Upon completion of studies you may have the right to

  • continue study at the same school or a different school for a higher academic degree, certificate or program of academic work,
  • apply for Academic Training; or
  • take up to 30 days to depart the U.S. If you complete your studies before the expiration date listed on your DS-2019 you will have 30 days to prepare for departure even if the date on your Form DS-2019 has not yet expired. If you choose to remain in the U.S. more than 30 days following the end of your program (without entering a new program or Academic Training), you will be in violation of your immigration status and could be subject to deportation.

The Two-year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement

Many J-1 Exchange Visitors are required, after completion of their Program Objective, to return to their home countries for a period of two years before they may be allowed to re-enter the U.S. in certain other types of immigration classifications. The International Services staff can advise you regarding the applicability of this requirement to your particular situation. Waiver:   You have the right to apply for a "waiver" of this requirement if you wish to remain in the U.S. by changing from J-1 status to some other immigration status. However, the DOS and the INS will review your case and have the right to deny your request for a waiver.

Required Notification of Changes in Circumstances

  • You are required to report changes in your address to the International Services within 15 days of the change.
  • You are also required to inform the International Services of any changes in your program (such as major or degree level) or source of funding.
  • Failure to notify the International Services of such changes may jeopardize your status in the United States.


  • You are required to file an income tax return by April 15th of each year, and pay any taxes due, regardless of your status or whether or not you were employed during that time.
  • The International Services sponsors a Tax Workshop every spring, during which an expert explains the tax obligations faced by international students and scholars.
  • Additional information is available from the International Services.