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Maintaining J-1 Immigration Status

Important: Failure to follow these rules could result in serious consequences, including the loss of your visa status. Please review the information on this page carefully. We recommend you come back and review this page regularly to ensure that you maintain your status while you are with us.

What is J-1 Status & How Do I Maintain It?

Roles & Responsibilities

  • You are 100% responsible for your immigration status and following the rules of your status.
  • SUNY Plattsburgh is 100% responsible for reporting in SEVIS whether or not you are maintaining your status.


SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. After 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security built a database to monitor and report on the activities of F, M, and J students/scholars and their schools.


RO is an abbreviation for Responsible Officer, and ARO is Alternate Responsible Officer. An RO or ARO helps you understand the rules of your status and reports whether or not you are maintaining your status in SEVIS. This person is specifically trained in U.S. immigration regulations regarding J-1 students. At SUNY Plattsburgh, your primary AROs are the Associate Director of Enrollment Management and the International Student Advisor in GEO.


Status refers to permission to be in the United States for a period of time to pursue a specific activity. You were given your status by the Customs and Border Protection inspector either in your passport or on your Form I-94A (the white card for those arriving by land). Your passport or Form I-94A should have a stamp notated “J-1 D/S”. You are in the US for the purpose of international exchange and to pursue a full course of study for a specific time as long as you obey the rules.


Form DS-2019 certifies that a specific sponsor has brought you to the U.S. for a specific field of study. By signing your Form DS-2019 on Page 1, you agree to obey the rules of J-1 status.

Rules of J-1 Status (How to Maintain Your Status)

  1. Report to the Global Education Office with your travel documents as soon as possible after you arrive. Your program will be validated soon after.
  2. You must be a full-time student, enrolled in 12 or more credits each fall and spring semester.
  3. You need your RO/ARO’s permission BEFORE you drop below full-time (i.e. below 12 credits).
  4. Maintain your required documents. Keep your DS-2019, passport, and I-94A or stamp in your passport valid.
  5. You need your RO/ARO’s permission BEFORE you change your major, degree, or extend your program.
  6. You must get permission from your RO/ARO BEFORE you accept employment on campus.
  7. You need your RO/ARO’s authorization BEFORE you work off-campus.
  8. You are required to carry the appropriate health insurance for the entire length of your program.
  9. You must report any change to your local address within 10 days.
  10. Before you travel, be sure to check that your travel endorsement (signature) is valid and obtain a new signature from your ARO every year (if necessary). Be sure to discuss your travel plans with your ARO.
  11. You must have approval from your RO/ARO BEFORE you withdraw from your program.
  12. You need to obtain permission from your RO/ARO for a SEVIS transfer BEFORE transferring to another US school.
  13. File a federal income tax form every year you are in the U.S. even if you did not work.
  14. After your completion of study, you have a 30 day grace period. During this grace period, you must either 1) depart the U.S., or 2) change to another immigration status.

If you obey these rules outlined above, you are “maintaining your status”.

Please consult with your RO/ARO should you ever have questions regarding your J-1 status.

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