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J-1 Visa Frequently Asked Questions

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

Can I work on a J-1 visa? A student holding a J-1 visa may qualify for Academic Training (AT), only after completing an academic year of study. Students who qualify for Academic Training may work for 18 months in a job directly related to their degree field, either during their study (20 hrs. per week max) or after completion of their degree program (may be full time, must begin within 30 days of finishing program), or both during and after study. Only students in degree programs may qualify for Academic Training. AT is cumulative; so, if a student works for 6 months on AT during the degree program will only have 12 months remaining after the end of the program. Students must have a job offer to qualify for AT, and AT must be approved by the International Student Office before the student may begin work.

Students who do not qualify for AT, or do not wish to participate in AT, may work up to 20 hours per week on-campus, and only with prior approval from the International Student Office.

Can my spouse work on a J-2 dependent visa? Yes, a spouse on a J-2 dependent visa may work up to full-time for any employer.  However, the spouse must first apply for work authorization through USCIS. Stratford University’s international office can provide more information and guidance on this topic.

Can I do CPT or OPT on a J-1 visa? No.

If I come on a J-1 visa, can I change to an F-1 visa when I get there?  Maybe. Many J-1 visa holders are subject to the Two Year Home Residency Requirement. If the J-1 student is subject to this requirement, he or she may not change visa status while in the United States. If the J-1 visa holder is not subject to the two-year home residency requirement, then that student may change status to an F-1 visa while in the country.

What is the two-year home residency requirement? The Two Year Home Residency Requirement applies to all students who are funded by their home government or the United States government, as well as students who are studying in a field that is greatly needed in their home country. If subject to this requirement, the student may not change visa status while in the United States. Also, after leaving the United States, the student may not return to the U.S. on an immigrant visa (H, L, green card). The student may return on another J-1 or F-1, B-1 or any other non-immigrant visa, but only after leaving the United States and receiving the new visa from their home country.

Do I have to study full-time on a J-1 visa?  Yes.  J-1 students must take a full-time on-campus course load (9 credits for graduate students, 13.5 credits for undergraduate students).

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