Information About the J-1 Visa

Stratford University is now a sponsor for J-1 visas!

What is a J-1 visa?
A J-1 visa is a cultural and exchange visa to travel to the United States. Many international students at Stratford University come to the U.S. on an F-1 student visa, but you can also come to Stratford to study on a J-1 visa!

What’s the difference between an F-1 student visa and a J-1 cultural exchange visa? 
The F-1 and J-1 visas are a lot alike, but there are a few important differences. You can study at Stratford University on either visa, and you can complete a full degree program on either visa. However, the rules, requirements, and other aspects are different.

Here is a chart that summarizes the differences:




Source of Funding

Must have a substantive portion of their funding from a source other than personal or family. This funding might come from your home institution, your home government, or a scholarship.

Any student, funded either by personal or outside funds or a combination there of is eligible for F-1 status.

On Campus Employment 

Full time studies, part time when school is in session, full time during periods of recess with permission of Alternate Responsible Officer (ISO adviser).

On Campus Employment during full time studies, part time when school is in session, full time during periods of recess.

Off Campus Employment

Academic Training – J-1 students are eligible to apply for up to 18 months of work that is related to their major area of study where the employment takes place off campus, which can be used both during studies and after graduation. This benefit is not automatic. It must be applied for by the student and approved by an International Advisor at the ISO office. Please note that one must have employment to be eligible.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) during study and Optional Practical Training (OPT) for up to 29 months after completion of study.  Please see our web page related to authorized employment for international students for more information.


Dependents of the J-1 (J-2s) are eligible to apply for permission to work full-time in the US for any employer through the duration of the primary’s (J1) program, once they have entered the US in the J-2 category. This permission is obtained through an application that is submitted to the USCIS.

Dependents (F-2s) are not eligible for employment. 

Requirement to Return Home upon program completion 

Some Exchange Visitors and their dependents may be rendered subject to what is called the two-year home country physical presence requirement upon program completion. Please see our FAQs related to the two-year home residency requirement for more information, or speak with your international student advisor.

No requirement to return home upon program completion.  However, students whose F1 programs (including OPT) have completed must leave the United States within 60 days of completion of program.

Non-degree study

J1 students may study a full-degree program or may study as a non-degree student. J1s may study to complete certificates and diplomas, or may even come to Stratford University to study for only a few months. 

F1 students must be enrolled in a degree program, unless enrolled in a language training (ESL).


J1 students may not come to the United States to study ESL. 

F1 students may come to the United States to complete an ESL program.

Cultural Component

J1 visa holders are required to engage in cultural activities and exchanges while in the United States. This is an exciting benefit to the J1 program! 

F1 visa holders are encouraged, but not required, to engage in cultural activities.

Who should apply for a J-1 visa to study at Stratford University?
Students who would like to enroll in a certificate or diploma program, instead of a full degree should apply for a J-1 visa.  Any student who does not wish to complete a full degree program, but would like to study at Stratford University, should apply for the J-1 visa.

Students who want to fully experience and learn about U.S. culture should consider applying for a J-1 visa.

Students who would like to take only a few courses in the United States and transfer the credits back to a degree program in another country should apply for a J-1 visa.

Students who are primarily funded by their home government, a scholarship, an employer, or another institution should consider applying for the J-1 visa.

How do I apply?
To apply to Stratford’s J-1 program, complete the online application and make sure you select “International Student Needing a J-1 Visa.”

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