Information for J-1 Visa Holders

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Employment Options for J-1 Students

On Campus Employment

J-1 students may work on campus part time (20 hours per week maximum) while school is in session and full time during vacation periods, with the written permission of their J-1 program sponsor. Your program sponsor is the institution or agency that prepared yourDS-2019 form. For most J-1 students, UCIE/WSU is the program sponsor.

Off Campus Employment

Academic Training

J-1 academic training is designed to allow J-1 students the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off campus. Academic training is available to J-1 students during the course of study and after completion of studies. As long as you stay within the stipulated time limits, academic training allows you to work part-time when classes are in session and full-time during vacation periods; and under certain conditions you may interrupt study to work full-time, for example, while you are writing a thesis. J-1 students in non degree programs are also eligible for academic training. Academic training cannot exceed 18 months in length (36 months for post-doctoral training) or "the period of full course of study" whichever is shorter.

Economic Hardship Employment

Students who experience serious unexpected financial difficulties may obtain permission from their J-1 program sponsor to work off campus.

Work Permission

Remember that working before obtaining proper authorization is a serious violation of your J-1 status that renders you illegally present in the U.S., beyond the ability of UCIE or Citizenship and Immigration Services to restore your legal status.

Employment for Dependents

Spouses and children who hold J-2 visas may accept employment only if they have applied for and received permission to do so from the Immigration Office.

Academic Training for J-1 Students

J-1 academic training is designed to allow J-1 students the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off campus. This handout discusses the rules and procedures that govern academic training.

Academic training is available to a J-1 student during the course of study and after completion of studies. As long as you stay within the stipulated time limits, academic training allows you to work part-time while classes are in session and full-time during vacation periods; and, under certain circumstances you may interrupt study to work full-time, for example while you are writing a thesis. J-1 students in non degree programs are also eligible for academic training.

Academic training cannot exceed 18 months in length (36 months for post-doctoral training) or "the period of full course of study" whichever is shorter.

Your J-1 Responsible Officer

To qualify for academic training, you must first obtain approval in writing from your J-1 Responsible Officer, who represents your J-1 sponsor and issues your Forms DS-2019. He or she must evaluate the proposed employment in terms of your program of study and your individual circumstances, and then decide whether it would be appropriate or not. If WSU is your J-1 sponsor, then your J-1 Responsible Officer is one of the UCIE advisors. If your J-1 sponsor is an agency, and if you are uncertain how to reach your J-1 Responsible Officer, an UCIE advisor will help you find out, but has no authority to grant employment permission.

Eligibility

To be eligible for academic training you must meet the following conditions:

  • You must be in good academic standing at the school named on your Form DS-2019
  • The proposed employment must be directly related to your major field of study.
  • Throughout your period of academic training you must maintain permission to stay in the United States, in J-1 student status, and apply for extensions as necessary.
  • You must maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and any J-2 dependents throughout your academic training period.

Duration of Academic Training

Your employment may be authorized for a period of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training as approved by your academic advisor, or academic dean, and your J-1 Responsible Officer. It may not exceed "the period of full course of study" or 18 months, whichever is shorter. If you receive a Ph.D., however, your post-doctoral training may be authorized for as long as 36 months. Additional academic training, beyond the 18 or 36 month limit is allowed only if the training is required for the degree. Part-time employment for academic training counts against the 18 or 36 month limit the same as full-time employment. Any academic training approved prior to the completion of your program must be deducted from the total period available.

Application Process

You must apply for "academic training" employment authorization a minimum of 30 days before completing your degree requirements. Before you can commence employment under the provisions of academic training, you must first have authorization from your academic advisor and your J-1 Responsible Officer.

Job Offer

The regulations, which govern academic training, require that authorization only be given for "firm job offers." Additionally, you must receive a job offer within 30 days of your graduation date, although your actual employment may begin later. If you do not have a firm job offer within 30 days of graduation, your J-1 status ends and you lose the opportunity for academic training.

Academic Advisor Recommendation

The regulations also require that your academic advisor supply a detailed rationale for any period of academic training. You can provide your advisor with a copy of UCIE's Preparing Letters of Recommendation for J-1 Academic Training. To meet these requirements the letter from your academic advisor or dean must state the following:

  • Your name, certification of full-time status, major field of study and expected completion date of study.
  • The goals and objective of the specific training program (i.e., the employment).
  • How the training relates to your major field of study.
  • Why the training is an integral or critical part of your academic program.
  • A description of the training program (position title and responsibilities), including its location, the name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours per week, and starting and ending dates of the training.

To assist your advisor in writing this letter, it may be helpful to provide him or her with a copy of your letter of offer from your prospective employer that includes the information outlined above.

J-1 Responsible Officer Authorization

When this letter is complete, bring it to your J-1 Responsible Officer (an UCIE advisor if WSU is your J-1 sponsor) along with your letter of offer from your prospective employer. Note: You cannot be authorized for academic training without a "firm job offer". Your J-1 Responsible Officer will evaluate your request for academic training to determine whether it is warranted, appropriate and in compliance with the regulations. If so, he or she will prepare a letter of approval. If necessary, you will also be issued a new Form DS-2019 which will extend your stay to cover the period of authorized academic training.

Travel Abroad and Reentry

If you plan to leave the U.S. after you complete your program of study and reenter the country for J-1 academic training, you must obtain academic training before you leave. Otherwise you may have trouble reentering the U.S. Consult your J-1 Responsible Officer.

The regulations governing academic training require that the J-1 sponsor evaluate the "effectiveness and appropriateness" of your academic training. UCIE will authorize the initial six months of the academic training period for students sponsored by WSU. Along with your letter of authorization you will receive a J-1 Student Academic Training Evaluation Questionnaire which you must complete and return to UCIE before the remaining period of academic training can be authorized.

Other Considerations

Social Security Number

In order to work in the U.S. you will need a valid Social Security number (your WSU ID number is not a valid Social Security number). To apply, please obtain instructions and directions to the Social Security Office nearest WSU from UCIE. The Social Security Administration will process your application and a number will be sent to you in about one month.

Taxes

In general, F-1 students who have been in the U.S. less than six calendar years are exempt from social security (FICA) and Medicare taxes. You should bring this to the attention of your employer because many employers are not familiar with this provision of the tax laws. If you need further information about the J-1 student social security and Medicare tax exemption, please contact UCIE.

Students in J-1 status are subject to all other taxes that may apply: federal, state and local (but check with UCIE to see if your country is one of the few that has a tax treaty with the U.S. allowing students to exclude a limited amount of earned income from federal taxation). Also, you may be able to treat a period of academic training as an extended business trip and substantially reduce your federal taxes by deducting "travel expenses" (amounts for housing, transportation and a per diem food allowance) from your income. You should consult an accountant or tax attorney to see if you can deduct travel expenses in your circumstances.

Employment Eligibility Verification

Within the first three days of beginning work you and your employer must complete an INS Form I-9 entitled Employment Eligibility Verification. This form will be kept on file by your employer and must be updated each time you receive a renewal of your work permission.

Failure to Comply with Employment Regulations

It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations which apply to J-1 students, including employment regulations. Working without proper authorization is a serious violation of your student status. If you fail to comply with your responsibilities, you may not be eligible for benefits normally granted to J-1 students and, in some situations, may be subject to deportation. Prior to accepting any employment in the U.S., we strongly urge you to consult with the Office of International Programs.

Guidelines for Academic Advisors in Preparing Letters of Recommendation for J-1 Academic Training

J-1 academic training is designed to allow holders of a J-1 student visa the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off campus. For a J-1 student to obtain authorization for academic training he or she must have a job offer and a letter from his or her academic advisor or dean recommending the student for academic training. For authorization to work after graduation, the student must receive a firm job offer within 30 days of his or her graduation date, although employment may begin later. These requirements are part of the regulations governing J-1 students issued by the U.S. Department of State.

Whether the period of academic training will occur during or following the student's completion of studies at the University, the academic advisor's letter should provide a detailed rationale for any off campus employment related to the J-1 student's field of study. To meet the requirements of these regulations the recommendation letter must state the following:

  1. the student's name, certification of full-time status, major field of study and expected completion date of study;
  2. the goals and objective of the specific training program (i.e., the employment);
  3. how the training relates to the student's major field of study;
  4. why the training is an integral or critical part of the academic program; and
  5. a description of the training program (position title and responsibilities), including its location, the name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours per week, and starting and ending dates of the training.

Departments may use uniform, field-of-study-specific explanations for points 2 and 4 above. Students should furnish advisors with the information, required in point 5, preferably in the form of a written position description. The advisor can then integrate the necessary information for point 5 into the letter.

Letters of recommendation must be on University letterhead. The beginning of the letter may read as follows:

DATE

STUDENT NAME is a full-time student in the DEPARTMENT. He/she is working for the DEGREE in FIELD OF STUDY, which he/she expects to receive in COMPLETION MONTH & YEAR. I recommend that STUDENT NAME be authorized to engage in a period of academic training employment. The goals and objectives of the academic training are….

Points 2,4, and 5 should then follow, closing with the signature of the academic advisor, department chair, or the academic dean.

J-1 Hardship Employment

U.S. Department of State regulations allow a J-1 student who experiences unforeseen financial problems while studying in the U.S. to obtain off campus employment permission under certain conditions. This handout discusses the requirements and limitations of J-1 student economic hardship employment authorization. This off campus employment permission may provide real help in difficult circumstances by allowing a student to supplement his or her income enough to meet some living expenses. Economic hardship employment authorization will not, however, enable a student to earn enough to bear the cost of the full time course of study required to maintain J student status. It should not be thought of, then, as a solution for serious financial difficulties.

Eligibility

If you are an J-1 student who is experiencing economic hardship due to an unforeseen change in your financial situation, you may qualify for off campus employment authorization under relevant immigration regulations. (You must, of course, be a full time student in valid J-1 status to qualify for this, as for any other benefit of J status.) If employment authorization is granted you will be able to work off campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and full time during vacation periods. Economic hardship employment authorization which allows you to work in any job, related or not related to your studies will be granted for one year or for the remainder of your academic program, whichever period is less.

hen considering your eligibility for hardship employment authorization the most important point to keep in mind is that for you to qualify an adverse change in your financial situation must have been unforeseen, or to be more accurate it must have been unforeseeable, when you first came to the U.S. to study. This is because J regulations provide that hardship employment authorization must be "necessary because of serious, urgent, and unforeseen economic circumstances which have arisen since acquiring exchange visitor status." Elsewhere, immigration regulations note that unforeseen circumstances "may include loss of financial aid or on campus employment without fault on the part of the student, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs, unexpected changes in the financial conditions of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses."

If you believe that your circumstances may qualify you for hardship employment authorization, please meet with an UCIE advisor. If it appears that you are eligible for hardship employment authorization, the advisor will ask you to (1) write a letter in which you describe in some detail the circumstances that support your request for hardship employment authorization, and (2) ask you to provide documentation confirming these circumstances (for example, a letter from your department to document the loss of a scholarship, or exchange rate data showing a currency devaluation, or a letter from an accountant confirming unexpected business losses).

Authorization

When the need for hardship employment authorization is well documented the UCIE advisor will if Wright State University is the institution that issued your DS-2019 issue an employment letter to you authorizing your off campus employment. The authorization will be for part time employment while school is in session and full time employment during vacation periods (this authorization will be for a maximum of one year or for the remainder of your academic program, whichever is less). If Wright State University is not the institution that issued your DS-2019, the UCIE advisor will refer you to the institution that did in order to request hardship employment authorization. (The institution that prepared your DS-2019 is your J-1 "program sponsor." You need your program sponsor's permission to engage in any type of J-1 employment, including economic hardship employment.)

Please remember that your employment authorization will be limited in duration and, during the school year, in number of hours per week. Any employment that you have before or after the authorized period, or in excess of the 20 hour per week limit during the school year, will be illegal employment that renders you illegally present in the U.S. and beyond the power of UCIE or the Immigration Service to regularize your situation.

Social Security Numbers

Before you begin work you will need a valid Social Security number (your WSU ID is not a valid Social Security Number). If you do not already have one, please obtain application instructions and directions to the Social Security Office from UCIE. The Social Security Administration will process your application and a number will be sent to you in about one month.

Taxes

In general, J-1 students who have been in the U.S. in less than six calendar years are exempt from social security (FICA) and Medicare taxes. You should be sure to bring this to the attention of your employer because many employers are not familiar with this provision of the tax laws. If you need more information about the J-1 social security and Medicare tax exemption, please contact UCIE.

Students in J-1 status are subject to all other taxes that may apply: federal, state and local (but check with UCIE to see if your country is one of the few that has a tax treaty with the U.S. allowing students to exclude a limited amount of earned income from federal taxation).

Employment Eligibility Verification

Within the first three days of beginning work you and your employer must complete a form entitled Employment Eligibility Verification (INS Form I-9). This form will be kept on file by your employer and must be updated each time you receive a renewal of your work permission.

Failure to Comply with Employment Regulations

It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations which apply to J-1 students, including employment regulations. Working without the proper authorization is a serious violation of your student status. If you fail to comply with your responsibilities, you may not be eligible for benefits normally granted to J-1 students and, in some situations, may be subject to deportation. Prior to accepting any employment in the U.S., we strongly urge you to consult with the University Center for International Education.

J-1 Student Temporary Suspension of Employment and Enrollment Requirement

On June 24, 1998 the United States Department of State temporarily suspended certain requirements governing program status as well as on campus and off campus employment for students whose financial supports come from Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. The allows:

  • Full-time on campus employment while school is in session
  • Full-time off campus employment for the duration of the employment authorization
  • Reduction in enrollment to no less than 3 courses per semester for undergraduate students and no less than 1 course for graduate students, ONLY if you have been granted employment authorization under the Relief program. Reduction in enrollment DOES NOT apply to non degree and language programs.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Your source of financial support comes from any of the following countries: Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines
  • You must demonstrate severe economic hardship resulting from the economic crisis
  • You received J-1 status and engaged in studies prior to June 10, 1998
  • You are currently in status and carrying a full course of study

Employment Authorization Application

For employment authorization application you need to present to UCIE:

  • A written statement, which includes a summary of your financial situation, a budget, or any additional information that demonstrates severe economic hardship
  • Your original DS-2019 Form

After reviewing these documents to confirm your eligibility, an UCIE advisor will endorse your DS-2019 Form item number 4, make copies of documentation to be kept on file, and return your DS-2019 Form to you. If you plan to work off campus, a work authorization letter will be issued by UCIE to accompany your DS-2019 Form.

Social Security Numbers

Before you begin work you will need a valid Social Security number (your WSU ID is not a valid Social Security Number). If you do not already have one, please obtain application instructions and directions to the Social Security Office from UCIE. The Social Security Administration will process your application and a number will be sent to you in about one month.

Taxes

In general, J-1 students who have been in the U.S. in less than six calendar years are exempt from social security (FICA) and Medicare taxes. You should be sure to bring this to the attention of your employer because many employers are not familiar with this provision of the tax laws. If you need more information about the J-1 social security and Medicare tax exemption, please contact UCIE.

Students in J-1 status are subject to all other taxes that may apply: federal, state, and local (but check with UCIE to see if your country is one of the few that has a tax treaty with the U.S. allowing students to exclude a limited amount of earned income from federal taxation).

Information on Incidental Employment for J-1 Scholars

Information below is designed for J-1 professors and research scholars. It will explain the regulations which permit J-1 professors and research scholars to participate in occasional lectures and short-term consultations.

Your J-1 Responsible Officer

To work for any employer other than Wright State University in the position described on your DS-2019 Form, you must first obtain approval in writing from your J-1 Responsible Officer, who represents your J-1 sponsor and issues your Forms IAP-66. He or she must evaluate the proposed employment in terms of your program objectives and your individual circumstances, and then decide whether it would be appropriate or not. For most J-1 professors and scholars at WSU, the University is your sponsor and your J-1 Responsible Officer is one of the UCIE advisers. If your J-1 sponsor is an agency, and if you are uncertain how to reach your J-1 Responsible Officer, an UCIE adviser will help you find out, but has no authority to grant employment permission.

The Proposed Employment

  • Must be directly related to the objectives of your Exchange Visitor program;
  • Must be incidental to your primary program activities; and
  • Must not delay the completion of your Exchange Visitor program.

Procedures

To obtain authorization for incidental employment, you should present the following to your J-1 Responsible Officer:

  • A letter of offer from the prospective employer describing the terms and conditions of the proposed employment, including the duration, the number of hours, the field or subject, the amount of compensation, and a description of the activity for which you are being hired.
  • A letter from your department head or supervisor:
    • referring to the letter from the prospective employer;
    • confirming that the employment is directly related to your principal activity, is indeed incidental, and will not delay completion of your program;
    • explaining how the proposed activity would enhance your Exchange Visitor program;
    • recommending approval of the employment.

If your J-1 Responsible Officer approves, he or she will authorize the employment in writing.

Authorization to Work

If the employment is a lecture or consultation, you will be working not as an employee but as an independent contractor, meaning that you will not have a sustained employer employee relationship with the person or institution paying you, and will not complete Form I-9, "Employment Eligibility Verification," in order to start work. In that situation your authorization will take the form of a letter to you from your J-1 Responsible Officer, which your employer may ask to see, and which you should keep permanently.

If the incidental employment is sustained, for example if you will be teaching a course at another school that lasts an entire term, then your authorization will be a new Form DS-2019, issued by your present J-1 Responsible Officer, showing the name of the employer (as well as the institution of your principal affiliation), and the amount you will be paid. Your Responsible Officer will send the yellow copy of that Form DS-2019 to the United States Information Agency in Washington, as notification that the incidental employment has been authorized, and will give you the pink copy to use as documentation when you and your employer complete Form I-9, "Employment Eligibility Verification," before you start work.

Social Security and Other Taxes

Social security taxes

In general, as a J-1 scholar, you will be exempt from Social Security (F.I.CA.) taxes for the period of time you are classified as a non-resident for U.S. federal income tax purposes. This normally refers to the first two tax years in which you are in the United States. (See Internal Revenue Service Publication 519 "U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.")

Federal, state and local taxes

Unless you qualify under a tax treaty between the United States and your home government, your earnings as a J-1 scholar will be subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes, and employers may or may not be required by law to withhold these taxes from your paycheck, but in any case you will still have tax liabilities on your earnings from incidental employment.

A Note of Caution

As a J-1 scholar your options for incidental employment are limited. Please remember that employment without proper authorization is a serious violation of your status. Before you begin any kind of employment, you must first consult your J-1 Responsible Officer, whose written approval is necessary in advance.

Incidental Employment for J-1 Scholars

Information below is designed for J-1 professors and research scholars. It will explain the regulations which permit J-1 professors and research scholars to participate in occasional lectures and short-term consultations.

Your J-1 Responsible Officer

To work for any employer other than Wright State University in the position described on your DS-2019 Form, you must first obtain approval in writing from your J-1 Responsible Officer, who represents your J-1 sponsor and issues your Forms IAP-66. He or she must evaluate the proposed employment in terms of your program objectives and your individual circumstances, and then decide whether it would be appropriate or not. For most J-1 professors and scholars at WSU, the University is your sponsor and your J-1 Responsible Officer is one of the UCIE advisers. If your J-1 sponsor is an agency, and if you are uncertain how to reach your J-1 Responsible Officer, an UCIE adviser will help you find out, but has no authority to grant employment permission.

Conditions

The proposed employment:

  • Must be directly related to the objectives of your Exchange Visitor program;
  • Must be incidental to your primary program activities; and
  • Must not delay the completion of your Exchange Visitor program.

To obtain authorization for incidental employment, you should present the following to your J-1 Responsible Officer:

  • A letter of offer from the prospective employer describing the terms and conditions of the proposed employment, including the duration, the number of hours, the field or subject, the amount of compensation, and a description of the activity for which you are being hired.
  • A letter from your department head or supervisor:
    • referring to the letter from the prospective employer;
    • confirming that the employment is directly related to your principal activity, is indeed incidental, and will not delay completion of your program;
    • explaining how the proposed activity would enhance your Exchange Visitor program;
    • recommending approval of the employment.

If your J-1 Responsible Officer approves, he or she will authorize the employment in writing.

Authorization to Work

If the employment is a lecture or consultation, you will be working not as an employee but as an independent contractor, meaning that you will not have a sustained employer employee relationship with the person or institution paying you, and will not complete Form I-9, "Employment Eligibility Verification," in order to start work. In that situation your authorization will take the form of a letter to you from your J-1 Responsible Officer, which your employer may ask to see, and which you should keep permanently.

If the incidental employment is sustained, for example if you will be teaching a course at another school that lasts an entire term, then your authorization will be a new Form DS-2019, issued by your present J-1 Responsible Officer, showing the name of the employer (as well as the institution of your principal affiliation), and the amount you will be paid. Your Responsible Officer will send the yellow copy of that Form DS-2019 to the United States Information Agency in Washington, as notification that the incidental employment has been authorized, and will give you the pink copy to use as documentation when you and your employer complete Form I-9, "Employment Eligibility Verification," before you start work.

Social Security and Other Taxes

Social security taxes

In general, as a J-1 scholar, you will be exempt from Social Security (F.I.CA.) taxes for the period of time you are classified as a non-resident for U.S. federal income tax purposes. This normally refers to the first two tax years in which you are in the United States. (See Internal Revenue Service Publication 519 "U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.")

Federal, state and local taxes

Unless you qualify under a tax treaty between the United States and your home government, your earnings as a J-1 scholar will be subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes, and employers may or may not be required by law to withhold these taxes from your paycheck, but in any case you will still have tax liabilities on your earnings from incidental employment.

A Note of Caution

As a J-1 scholar your options for incidental employment are limited. Please remember that employment without proper authorization is a serious violation of your status. Before you begin any kind of employment, you must first consult your J-1 Responsible Officer, whose written approval is necessary in advance.

Maintaining Your J-1 Scholar Status

Information below is designed for J-1 professors and research scholars. It will explain the regulations which permit J-1 professors and research scholars to participate in occasional lectures and short-term consultations.

Your J-1 Responsible Officer

To work for any employer other than Wright State University in the position described on your DS-2019 Form, you must first obtain approval in writing from your J-1 Responsible Officer, who represents your J-1 sponsor and issues your Forms IAP-66. He or she must evaluate the proposed employment in terms of your program objectives and your individual circumstances, and then decide whether it would be appropriate or not. For most J-1 professors and scholars at WSU, the University is your sponsor and your J-1 Responsible Officer is one of the UCIE advisers. If your J-1 sponsor is an agency, and if you are uncertain how to reach your J-1 Responsible Officer, an UCIE adviser will help you find out, but has no authority to grant employment permission.

Conditions

The proposed employment:

  • Must be directly related to the objectives of your Exchange Visitor program;
  • Must be incidental to your primary program activities; and
  • Must not delay the completion of your Exchange Visitor program.
Procedures

To obtain authorization for incidental employment, you should present the following to your J-1 Responsible Officer:

  • A letter of offer from the prospective employer describing the terms and conditions of the proposed employment, including the duration, the number of hours, the field or subject, the amount of compensation, and a description of the activity for which you are being hired.
  • A letter from your department head or supervisor:
    • referring to the letter from the prospective employer;
    • confirming that the employment is directly related to your principal activity, is indeed incidental, and will not delay completion of your program;
    • explaining how the proposed activity would enhance your Exchange Visitor program;
    • recommending approval of the employment.

If your J-1 Responsible Officer approves, he or she will authorize the employment in writing.

Authorization to Work

If the employment is a lecture or consultation, you will be working not as an employee but as an independent contractor, meaning that you will not have a sustained employer employee relationship with the person or institution paying you, and will not complete Form I-9, "Employment Eligibility Verification," in order to start work. In that situation your authorization will take the form of a letter to you from your J-1 Responsible Officer, which your employer may ask to see, and which you should keep permanently.

If the incidental employment is sustained, for example if you will be teaching a course at another school that lasts an entire term, then your authorization will be a new Form DS-2019, issued by your present J-1 Responsible Officer, showing the name of the employer (as well as the institution of your principal affiliation), and the amount you will be paid. Your Responsible Officer will send the yellow copy of that Form DS-2019 to the United States Information Agency in Washington, as notification that the incidental employment has been authorized, and will give you the pink copy to use as documentation when you and your employer complete Form I-9, "Employment Eligibility Verification," before you start work.

Social Security and Other Taxes
Social security taxes

In general, as a J-1 scholar, you will be exempt from Social Security (F.I.CA.) taxes for the period of time you are classified as a non-resident for U.S. federal income tax purposes. This normally refers to the first two tax years in which you are in the United States. (See Internal Revenue Service Publication 519 "U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.")

Federal, state and local taxes

Unless you qualify under a tax treaty between the United States and your home government, your earnings as a J-1 scholar will be subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes, and employers may or may not be required by law to withhold these taxes from your paycheck, but in any case you will still have tax liabilities on your earnings from incidental employment.

A Note of Caution

As a J-1 scholar your options for incidental employment are limited. Please remember that employment without proper authorization is a serious violation of your status. Before you begin any kind of employment, you must first consult your J-1 Responsible Officer, whose written approval is necessary in advance.

Medical Insurance Reguirements for J-1 Students & Scholars

Students and visiting scholars who hold J-1 status are required to have medical insurance coverage for themselves and their dependents throughout their stay in the U.S.

The United States Information Agency (USIA) has mandated that any insurance plan purchased by a J-1 visa holder meet the following criteria:

  • medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness
  • repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500
  • medical evacuation to the home country in the amount of $10,000
  • a deductible (the amount for which you are responsible before insurance coverage becomes effective) not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
  • co-payment of medical expenses (the portion not covered by insurance that the insured pays him or herself) or no more than 25%.

Most J-1 students will enroll themselves and their families in Wright State University's Student Health Insurance Plan. J-1 scholars are not eligible for this plan but may be eligible for coverage provided to WSU staff, and have the opportunity to purchase coverage for their families through the University.

Those scholars who are not able to purchase a University insurance plan should consult an UCIE advisor for information on acceptable alternative insurance coverage.

J-1 Two Year Foreign Residency Requirement Waiver

That is the two-year home contry physical presence requirement?

It's exactly what it sounds like. Some J-1 exchange visitors, depending on their field of study/research, and their J-2 dependents are required to return to their home country at the end of their program for a period of two years. The intent of this requirement is to have the home country benefit from the Exchange Visitor's experience in the United States. Exchange Visitors come to this country for a specific objective such as a program of study or a research project. The requirement is intended to prevent a participant who is subject from staying longer than necessary for the objective, and to ensure that he or she will spend at least two years in the home country before coming back to the United States for a long-term stay.

Terms of the Requirement

If you are subject to the requirement, then you must "reside and be physically present" for a total of two years, in either your country of nationality or your country of legal permanent residence, in order to be eligible for:

An H, L, or immigrant visa, or for H, L, or immigrant status in the United States. H includes temporary workers, trainees, and their dependents. L includes intracompany transferees and their dependents. An immigrant is the same as a permanent resident, or holder of a "green card." A change of your status, inside the United States, from J to any other nonimmigrant classification except A or G. The A classification includes your home government's diplomats and representatives to the United States government, and their dependents. The G classification includes your government's representatives to international organizations, such as the United Nations, and their dependents.

Who is subject to the requirement?

You are subject to the Requirement if:

  • Your J-1 participation is or was funded in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by your home government or the United States government;
  • As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you are acquiring a skill that is in short supply in your home country, according to the United States government's "Exchange Visitor Skills List."
  • You have participated as a J-1 in a graduate medical education or training program, i.e. a residency, internship, or fellowship, sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates;
    or
  • You are the J-2 dependent of an Exchange Visitor who is subject to the requirement.
  • If you have ever been subject to the requirement in the past, and have neither obtained a waiver nor fulfilled it by spending two years in your country, it still holds - even if a more current Form DS-2019 reflects no basis for such a requirement.

Preliminary Endorsements

The visa stamp in your passport, or your Form DS-2019, or both, may show an indication, by a consular officer or an the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) inspector, that you are or are not subject to the requirement. These indications, labeled "preliminary endorsement" on Form DS-2019, are usually accurate but are not legally binding. Even though these endorsements are not final, CIS usually accepts indications that the Exchange Visitor is subject.

If you are unsure whether or not you are subject, consult the Wright State University UCIE staff or your J-1 Responsible Officer. Be sure to take your passport, all of the pink copies that you have of Forms Form DS-2019, your I-94 Departure Record card, and copies of prior I-94 cards if they are available. The UCIE staff or your Responsible Officer can often tell from the source of funding, or the Exchange Visitor Skills List, whether the requirement applies or not.

If you are still uncertain, you can write to the United States Department of State, which is responsible for the administration of the Exchange Visitor program and the two-year requirement. Address your letter to:

U.S. Department of State
Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation
Waiver Review Branch
301 Fourth Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20547.

Enclose photocopies of all of your forms IAP-66 and/or Ds-2019 and, in a cover letter, explain why you are uncertain whether you are subject or not, and ask for Department of State's advisory opinion.

You may also review the Department of State Web site at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1296.html

Waivers of the Requirement

There are four grounds for waiver of the requirement:

  • Exceptional hardship to your spouse or unmarried minor child who is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. If, for example, you had a child who was born in the United States and was therefore a citizen of this country, and if the child had a serious medical condition that could not be treated in your country, you might obtain a waiver because the child would suffer a hardship by going there with you to live. You would apply to INS on Form I-612, "Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as Amended" ( Form is commonly referred to as Form I-612).
  • Fear of persecution. If you can demonstrate that, because of your race, religion, political opinions, or nationality, you would face persecution by your home government if you went back to your country, you might qualify for a waiver. You would apply to CIS on Form I-612.
  • Interest of a United States government agency. If your participation in research or a project sponsored by a United States government agency is of sufficient importance to that agency, it can apply to Department of State for a waiver for you - in its interest, not yours.
  • A "no-objection" statement (not permitted for medical trainees). Your country's embassy in Washington can indicate in a direct letter to Department of State that it has no objection to your receiving a waiver, or the foreign ministry in your capital at home can write to the United States embassy there. A "no-objection" statement will usually not lead to a waiver if the Exchange Visitor has received more than $2,000 in funding from the United States government.

A Word of Caution

This information is intended only to help you understand the nature of the requirement, not to serve as a legal reference. Consult the Wright State University UCIE staff or your J-1 Responsible Officer if you are unsure whether or not you are subject.

If you need more information please refer to the Exchange Visitor Program Information at U.S. Department of State website: http://exchanges.state.gov/jexchanges/index.html