Immigration Rights & Responsibilities

This information is specific to J-1 Exchange Visitors in the program categories of: Research Scholar, Professor, Short-Term Scholar, or Specialist. It is designed to provide you with a basic overview of the J-1 Exchange Visitor program regulations as defined by the Department of State's (DOS) Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), and to help you understand your responsibilities for maintaining lawful immigration status as an Exchange Visitor.

Transfer to a Different Program Sponsor

You may be able to transfer from your present Program Sponsor to a different Program Sponsor provided you qualify and follow certain procedures. You must consult your current Program Sponsor to notify them that you are considering a transfer. Your present Program Sponsor will be required to transfer your record in SEVIS to your new Program Sponsor, which will then give you a new Form DS-2019 no earlier than the effective date of the transfer.

Length of Time You May Remain in the U.S.

You have the right to remain in the U.S. to complete your program objective and you adhere to all regulations of your J-1 status.

You may be able to extend your J-1 status.  The request for extension must come from your host department.  Providing you submit all of the necessary documentation requested by your Program Sponsor, have not exceeded the maximum allowable stay for your program category, and have maintained lawful J-1 immigration status, you will be considered eligible to receive an extension.

The Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement

Responsibility to Comply With Program Regulations

It is your responsibility to comply with all J-1 program and immigration regulations and to maintain lawful immigration status in the U.S. Failure to maintain legal immigration status in the U.S. will nullify your visa and your permission to remain in the country. Remaining in the U.S. beyond your date of authorized stay (plus grace period, if applicable) could subject you to a bar from re-entering the U.S. for a period of up to 10 years. In addition, violating the terms and conditions of your immigration status might prevent you from obtaining a visa to enter the U.S. at any U.S. Consulate other than the one in your home country.

Additional information about the Exchange Visitor Program, as well as counseling and assistance, is available form the OISS. We are here to support and guide you through the complex maze of U.S. immigration laws, and we are available to answer any questions you might have. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or require assistance.

Health Insurance Requirements

Employment in the U.S.

You are only permitted to be employed or receive compensation for services performed for your Program Sponsor, and you are only permitted to perform services (or “work”) until the expiration date listed on Form DS-2019.

If you are asked to perform services (for example, earn an “honorarium”) by another academic institution or organization on a short-term basis, and if the services you will perform are directly related to your program objective, you must apply to your Program Sponsor for permission before you accept the offer. You will need to provide a letter from the outside institution describing the nature of your work, and a letter from your UNH supervisor indicating how you will benefit from this particular activity. If you accept payment for services without obtaining advance permission from your Program Sponsor, you will violate your immigration status.


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

Outside the U.S., returning to the same Program Sponsor: In order to avoid problems re-entering the country, consult with your program sponsor before you leave the U.S. You will need to have your Form DS-2019 signed and may also need a letter verifying your status as an exchange visitor. You may also need to obtain a new U.S. visa.

Outside the U.S., returning to a different Program Sponsor: You must consult in advance with your current Program Sponsor about your proposed travel and transfer to a new program sponsor. Your program sponsor will be able to alert you to possible problems you may encounter. If the change is permissible, you must obtain a new Form DS-2019 from the new Program Sponsor to which you will transfer before you attempt to re-enter the U.S.

Completion of Program

Your Program Sponsor is required by the DOS to keep them informed of your activities while you are an Exchange Visitor. This means that you must notify your Program Sponsor when you have completed your program. Once you have completed your program, you have an additional thirty days within which to depart the U.S. (If you end your program early, before the date of expiration on the Form DS-2019, you are not entitled to the grace period, but instead must leave the U.S. as quickly as possible.) Your Program Sponsor is required to notify the DOS of any early departure from the program. If you choose to remain in the U.S. for more than 30 days following the end of your program, you must apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for a change of visa status, or you will be in violation of immigration laws and could under certain circumstances be subject to deportation and/or be barred from re-entering the U.S. for three years.