Comparing F-1 and J-1 Visa

F-1 Status

The F-1 is the most common status used by international students in the U.S.

J-1 Status

The J-1 visa is generally used for students in specific educational exchange programs such as the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Fulbright, LASPAU, DAAD, AmidEast, or others.

It may also be used by the University for students in degree programs. To be eligible for the J-1 you must first meet the following criteria:

  • Have adequate financial support for all of your school and living expenses, including additional financial support for any accompanying family members, for the duration of your degree program as determined by normative time; AND
  • 51% or more of your total financial support comes from an institutional or government sponsor in the form of a scholarship, fellowship, assistantship, stipend, tuition waiver, or other direct support provided specifically for the educational program. Personal, loans, or support from family or individuals do not qualify.

  • You are participating in a specific educational exchange program (see above).

Comparison Between the J-1 and F-1 Status

Must have substantial [51%] institutional financial support provided specifically for the educational program to obtain the initial document and to request any extensions of the DS-2019. Must show financial support for the entire length of program when requesting the initial document. Any source of financial support is acceptable. Must show financial support for the first year of the program when requesting the initial document.
Any employment on- or off-campus requires a work permit from the program sponsor. On-campus employment does not require a work permit. Off-campus employment requires a work authorization from International Center and/or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
Academic Training (employment) is available for up to 18 months, but you must have a job offer before the end of studies. An extension for up to 18 months is possible for post-doctoral research. Off-campus work during the degree program reduces the total period of Academic Training available after program completion. Optional Practical Training [OPT] Post-Completion employment permission is available for a 12-month period.
A 17-Month STEM Extension is possible. A job offer is not required.
J-2 dependent [spouse, child] employment is available. F-2 dependents [spouse, child] are not eligible for work authorization.
J-1 and J-2 dependents may be subject to the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement. No Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement.
J-2 dependents are eligible to study part-time or full-time in the U.S. F-2 spouses are not eligible to study full-time in the U.S. F-2 spouses may engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature. F-2 children in primary and secondary schools may be eligible to study part-time or full-time in the U.S.

Other Nonimmigrant Classifications

New students may already be in the U.S. with another type of nonimmigrant status. Some of these classifications allow you to attend school and some do not. Students in F-2 and B1/B2 status are not allowed to study full-time at UCI and must contact the International Center for additional information.

Questions About Your Status

Contact a student advisor at the UCI International Center if you have any questions about your current or future immigration status.

For more information about various types of nonimmigrant status, visit the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Service (USCIS) website.


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