Student Immigration Definitions

Obtaining J-1 Exchange Visitor
Student Category Status at Columbia

Transfer of J-1 Supervision

Change of Status to F-1

Potential Delays in Visa Issuance


Student Tax Information

Message for Canadian Students

Maintaining J-1 Status

DS-2019 Recertification

Health Insurance Overview for J-1 Students

J-1 Travel Information

DHS Information on Arrival Problems

J-1 Extension of Stay (Current Program)

J-1 Extension of Stay to Begin New Program


J-1 Work Opportunities

J-1 On-Campus Work Request

J-1 Academic Training

Employment Authorization for J-2

J-1 Leave of Absence, Suspension or Withdrawal

Student Departure Information

Home Country Residency Requirement

Reduced Course Load Request

Address Change Form

Visa and Document Overview for Students in J-1 Status


Your Legal Obligations

It is essential to remember that you must take full responsibility for maintaining your status with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). That is, you are responsible for finding out, knowing, and following pertinent regulations.

If you take time early on to familiarize yourself with your obligations to the Department of Homeland Security, you should find it easy to maintain your legal status. If, however, you allow yourself to "fall out of status", it may be extraordinarily difficult to be reinstated to legal J-1 status.The best resources available to assist you in maintaining your status are this Web site, Coming to Columbia on-line, and the staff of the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO), at 524 Riverside Drive, and the International Affairs Office (IAO) at the Medical Center, Room 1-126B Black Bldg., 650 West 168th Street. Every effort has been made to provide reliable and accurate information on rules that govern student and scholar immigration classifications. When regulations change - as is frequently the case - the ISSO and the IAO will have current information. Come in and ask questions anytime.Note that there are two offices that handle the immigration documents for Columbia University students. You can determine which office to contact by looking at your Form DS-2019. The name and address of the appropriate office is on your form.

As your visa sponsor, Columbia University has legal obligations which are met by the ISSO or IAO. International students in J-1 status are in SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System), a national database through which student immigration documents created and student records maintained. Among other things, these offices are required to make regular reports on students' enrollment status, completion of program, employment recommendations, and failure to maintain status.

A Few Words of Advice for Students

  • Familiarize yourself with "Student Immigration Definitions" before reading anything else
  • Although most requests for documentation submitted to the ISSO or IAO usually are done on the spot while you wait, it is prudent to allow at least five business days for processing.
  • Bring with you your passport and all relevant immigration documents - including your DS-2019 and any previous DS-2019s - when you come to the ISSO or IAO for immigration information or document processing.
  • Carry financial documentation when you travel.
  • Consult with the ISSO or IAO before visiting the USCIS District office.
  • If you are the least bit uncertain about your status - for example, whether your program will be full-time, whether your permission to stay is valid, or whether you can be paid for an assistantship - check with the ISSO or the IAO immediately. Students who do not meet the full-time or normal progress requirements may have problems restoring their status. Therefore, if you believe your circumstances warrant extraordinary consideration, it is extremely important that you consult with the ISSO or IAO before registering for your program. We are here to help you and advise you.


Last Reviewed: 22 February 2011 Last modified: 22 February 2011
International Students and Scholars Office
Columbia University