F-1 versus J-1

Every full-time degree student at Yale is eligible for the F-1 visa and the majority of Yale international students hold this visa status.

Some students may also be eligible for the J-1 student visa, an exchange visitor option. This group of students may choose between F-1 or J-1, or be assigned based on their funding requirements.  The differences are outlined below.

Who is eligible for a choice between F-1 and J-1?

The Exchange Visitor Program, otherwise known as the J-1 visa, is part of a larger U.S. Department of State mission to foster cultural and educational exchange between countries. One eligibility criteria for the J-1 student visa is that a substantial portion of your financial support must be from a scholarship, fellowship or assistantship from an external funding source, for example Yale University, the Rotary Foundation, NATO, your home government or a corporate sponsor. Students with only personal or family funding are NOT eligible for J-1 status.

If I choose J-1 how will that impact my long term plans?

The J-1 exchange visitor visa intends for students to return home after their study.

J-1 Two Year Home Country Residence Requirement

Some J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to what is called the two-year home country physical presence requirement. This "two-year residence" requirement applies to you if you receive any funding (including nominal travel grants) from your home government or a U.S. government agency. It also applies to you if trained personnel in your field are identified by your home government as being in short supply and your field has consequently been included on the U.S. government's "Exchange Visitor's Skills List." The two year residence requirement also applies to persons receiving graduate medical education or training. If you do not know whether your country and/or field appear on the "Exchange Visitor's Skills List," ask at OISS or check the Department of State website. An exchange visitor who is subject to this requirement must reside for an aggregate of two (2) years in his or her country of nationality or last legal permanent residence or have the requirement waived before being eligible for other U.S. immigration statuses, including H, L or permanent resident status. For information about the process of applying for a waiver of this requirement, visit this web site at the Department of State. J-2 spouses are also subject to the Home Country Residence Requirement.

J-1 Bar on Repeat Participation

Students who study on the J-1 Student Visa for more than 6 months are barred from returning to the U.S. in a J-1 Research Scholar category until 12 months after the Student visa ends. The 12 Month Bar is separate from the Two Year Home Residency Requirement outlined above. J-2 spouses are also subject to this bar.

I am eligible to choose between F-1 and J-1. How do I know which visa is right for me?

There are a few basic differences between the F-1 and J-1 visa type which are outlined in the chart below.  This document is also available for download in PDF format if you would prefer that format.

   

F-1 Status

 

J-1 Status

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Source of Funding

 

Any student, funded either by personal or outside funds or a combination there of is eligible for F-1 status.

 

Must have a substantive portion of their funding from a source other than personal. This funding might come from Yale University, your home institution or government.

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On Campus Employment

 

On Campus Employment during full time studies, part time when school is in session, full time during periods of recess.

 

Full time studies, part time when school is in session, full time during periods of recess with permission of Alternate Responsible Officer (OISS adviser).

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Off Campus Employment

 

Optional Practical Training – F-1 students are eligible to apply for permission to work off campus for up to a 12 month period of training that is directly related to their studies. OPT can be used during full time studies, part time when school is in session and full time during periods of recess. All time used it counted towards the allowable 12 month period. This benefit is approved by the USCIS. It is not required that you have specific employment prior to application for this benefit. The student must simply have the intention of working in a field that is related to your studies. Once approved however, you can not have a period of unemployment that exceeds 90.

 

Academic Training – J-1 students are eligible to apply for employment authorizations related to their major area of study. The length of the period of Academic Training varies greatly depending on what the program of study is. Please review the Amount of Employment Authorized Time Allowed details carefully. Academic Training does not happen automatically. Students must apply for it by submitting materials to an International Advisor at the OISS office.  Please note that one must have employment to be eligible. For post graduation work, you will not be eligible for this benefit if you do not have a job in place before you graduate.

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Dependents

 

Dependents (F-2s) are not eligible for employment. 

 

Dependents of the J-1 (J-2s) are eligible to apply for permission to work in the US through the duration of the primary’s program once they have entered the US in the J-2 category. This permission is obtained through an application that is submitted to the USCIS.

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Requirement to Return Home upon program completion

 

No requirement to return home upon program completion.

 

Some Exchange Visitors and their dependents may be rendered subject to what is called the two-year home country physical presence requirement upon program completion. This "two-year residence" requirement applies to you if:

  • you receive any funding (including nominal travel grants) from your home government or a U.S. government agency.
  • if trained personnel in your field are identified by your home government as being in short supply and your field has consequently been included on the U.S. government's "Exchange Visitor's Skills List."  If you do not know whether your country and/or field appear on the "Exchange Visitor's Skills List," ask at OISS or check on the State Department Web site.
  • to persons receiving graduate medical education

An exchange visitor who is subject to this requirement must reside for an aggregate of two (2) years in his or her country of nationality or last legal permanent residence or have the requirement waived before being eligible for other U.S. immigration statuses, including H, L or permanent resident status.  For information about the process of applying for a waiver of this requirement, see this Web site. Note that a waiver can not be requested early in your student stay.

 

Related Links

J-1 Students

 

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Employment Authorization

 

More Resources

F-1 versus J-1

PDF Documents

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F1 versus J1

Department of State Web site