Immigration Rights and Responsibilities

This information is for the use of Exchange Visitors in the J-1 student category at the University of New Hampshire. After reading the information on this page and subsequent pages under "Current J-1 Students", you should have a basic understanding of the important rights or benefits you have in relation to U.S. immigration regulations. You should also have an understanding of your responsibilities for maintaining your lawful immigration status as an Exchange Visitor. You will not, however, have an understanding of the actual procedures which must be followed in order to apply for certain benefits. Consultation with, and assistance from, your Program Sponsor and the staff of the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) will be necessary in order for you to exercise many of your rights.

The Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the Department of State under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, as amended. The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to promote international educational and cultural exchange in order to develop mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries.

Registration, Attendance and Course Load

Registration and Attendance: You must register at and attend the school indicated on your Form DS-2019.

Course Load: You must register as a full-time student when school is in session. For undergraduate students, full-time is defined as a minimum of 12 credits. For graduate students the requirement is 9 credits (6 credits if on a full assistantship) or registration for Master's Thesis or Doctoral Research.

Reduction in Course Load: You may register for a lesser course load if a) you will complete your studies by the end of that school term and do not need a full course load in order to graduate; b) Your Program Sponsor approves, in advance, a reduction in course load due to special circumstances such as illness, academic difficulties, etc.; c) you are engaged in a prescribed course of study in a non-degree program; or d) you are participating in authorized Academic Training.

Medical Insurance

As a condition of enrollment, all international students are required to purchase and enroll in UNH's Student Health Benefits Plan (SHBP).

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Within the U.S.: You have the right to travel freely within the U.S. provided you maintain your legal J-1 status and have your passport and immigration documents in your possession.

Outside the U.S. with Return Planned to the Same Program Sponsor: You must consult in advance with your Program Sponsor regarding travel authorization and the necessary documentation required to facilitate your reentry to the U.S.

Outside the U.S. with Return Planned to a Different Program Sponsor: You must consult in advance with your Program Sponsor regarding your proposed travel and change of program sponsor. If the change is permissible, you must obtain Form DS-2019 from your new Program Sponsor before you attempt to reenter the U.S.

Completion of Program

You are required to notify your Program Sponsor when you have completed your Program Objective. Upon completion of studies you may have the right to a) continue study at the same school or transfer to a different school for a higher academic degree, certificate or program of academic work, b) apply for Academic Training, or c) take up to 30 days to depart the U.S. If you complete your studies before the expiration date listed on your Form 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. for 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.

Documents Related to Immigration