This information applies to J-1 research scholars, professors, short-term scholars, and student-interns.
Violation of J-1 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Department of State (DOS) visa regulations results in the loss of legal status in the U.S. Consequences include, but are not limited to:
- Ineligibility for employment
- Ineligibility to receive a Transfer Recommendation for a new J-1 sponsor/institution
- Ineligibility to apply to DHS for a change of visa status
If a DHS official or an immigration judge declares an individual to be unlawfully present in the United States, the unlawful presence will begin on the date of the DHS decision.
What happens if I accrue unlawful presence?
It is possible that you will be restricted from entering the U.S. for three years, ten years, or even permanently:
Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence during a single stay, and then depart, may be subject to three-year or 10-year bars to admission, depending on how much unlawful presence they accrued before they departed the United States. Individuals who have accrued a total period of more than one year of unlawful presence, whether in a single stay or during multiple stays in the United States, and who then reenter or attempt to reenter the United States without being admitted or paroled are permanently inadmissible. Those subject to the three-year, 10-year, or permanent unlawful presence bars to admission are generally not eligible to apply for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status to permanent residence unless they are eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or another form of relief. (emphasis added)
What would make me lose legal status?
Loss of legal status can occur due to:
- Failing to report/update your mailing (residential) address in MyU (this prevents ISSS from submitting required reports that scholars have begun their program objectives)
- Not extending an expiring DS-2019 before the end date
- Working without the required work authorization
- Completing your program and then not 1) leaving the U.S. by the established deadline, 2) transferring to a new program, or 3) changing to another immigration status in a timely way
- J-1 scholars have a 30-day grace period following the end of their program objectives
- Failing to enroll in health insurance that meets the Department of State guidelines
- The University of Minnesota's insurance does meet these guidelines
- Failing to check in with ISSS
- Failing to engage in your program objectives as described on your DS-2019 application (for example, research in [field), teaching in [field], etc.)
- Beginning your program before the start date on your DS-2019
- J-1 scholars may arrive up to 30 days prior to the start date, but they may not begin the program
What can I do to avoid losing my legal status?
- Do not change the research, teaching, or observation objectives as they appear on the DS-2019. For example, if you are here to do research in biochemistry, you cannot shift to doing work that is different than what is listed on the DS-2019.
- Be sure you report changing your U.S. residential address in MyU within 10 days any time you move.
- Maintain University of Minnesota health insurance for you and any J-2 dependents for the entire duration of your DS-2019.
- Do not leave the U.S. for a period of more than 30 days without advance approval from ISSS. J-2 dependents should not be left in the U.S. for more than 30 days if the J-1 is not present.
- Do not engage in any employment, paid or unpaid, that is not with the department listed on your DS-2019, without prior approval from ISSS first.
- Notify ISSS if your University of Minnesota work ends earlier than the date listed on your DS-2019.
- Get an updated travel signature if you need to travel outside of the U.S. and the travel signature on your documents will have expired by the time you return to the U.S.
- Follow deadlines: If ISSS gives you a deadline by which you need to do something, be sure to follow it. Failing to meet certain deadlines could result in losing your legal status.
- Read your emails from the UMN and ISSS. If you see an email and you think it is in error, do not just ignore it. Check with ISSS.
- Be aware of your own immigration situation. While ISSS strives to make the best use of technology available to us, and we send reminder emails, sometimes technology fails. These reminders are a courtesy we provide, but the law holds you responsible for your status. This is why you must remain on top of your own immigration situation, be aware of when your DS-2019 expires, and keep your U.S. address updated.
How can I regain my legal status?
If you have lost your status, or feel that you might have lost your status, it is important that you discuss your legal status issues with an ISSS J-1 Advisor immediately. The advisor can explore whether you are eligible to regain legal status through one of three ways:
- Correct the record
- Reinstatement of legal status application
- Re-entry into the U.S. with a new "initial admit" DS-2019
What will not count toward unlawful presence?
The Department of Homeland Security includes the following examples of lawful situations that do not count toward unlawful presence:
J-1 Scholars and J Student-Interns generally do not accrue unlawful presence in certain situations, including but not limited to:
- During the period of up to 30 days before the program start date listed on the form DS-2019
- The period of time annotated on Form DS-2019 as the approved program time
- During the grace period after the conclusion of the program (up to 30 days
- Any extension of program time annotated on Form DS-2019
- The period of time a J-1 is out of status if he or she applied for reinstatement under 22 CFR 62.45, provided that the application is ultimately approved
- Filing a reinstatement request does not by itself place the scholar or student-intern into a period of stay authorized and, therefore, does not stop the scholar or student-intern from accruing unlawful presence. If the request is ultimately denied, the J-1 nonimmigrant will have begun accruing unlawful presence the day after the scholar or student-intern stopped pursuing their authorized J program activity, unless he or she is otherwise protected from accruing unlawful presence. If the reinstatement application is approved, however, no unlawful presence will have accrued during the time period in which the scholar or student-intern was out of status.
What about J-2 dependents?
J-2 dependents (the spouse and children under 21 of a J-1) rely upon the J-1 maintaining their legal status. If the J-1 loses legal status, so do the dependents.
Note that dependents under 18 do not typically accrue unlawful presence.