How long can I stay in the U.S. on a J-1 visa?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

The permissible duration of stay for exchange visitors in the United States varies with the category in which the visitor is admitted. There are two main categories of J-1 visas for students. The first is for high school students; these are commonly referred to as exchange student programs. The length of stay authorized for a high school student is generally one academic year. The second student category applies to college students. How long you can stay as a student with a J-1 visa will depend on the purpose of your studies. If you are enrolled in college full-time and pursuing a degree, you will be allowed enough time to pursue and complete your degree program. If you are enrolled in a college full-time, but you are not pursuing a degree, then your authorized time period is 24 months. 

Every J-1 visa is limited by its category and defined objectives. Namely, a student visa is for someone to go to school. A J-1 visa for a teacher limits that person to teaching. A sponsoring agency may terminate your participation in the program before the time your J-1 student visa was set to expire. For example, if the college that sponsored you requires that you maintain a certain grade point average to attend, but you consistently fail all of your course work, the college may make the decision to discharge you from the program after your first year. Although your J-1 visa was not due to expire for another 12 months, the purpose of the program was effectively ended by the sponsoring agency. As such, you would be required to leave the United States despite the 12 months still remaining. You must leave the United States at the time the program ends. If you are accepted and successfully complete the program, you are required to leave within 30 days after the program ends. You do not get this grace period if you are discharged from an exchange visitor program (as described in the example above). Upon notification of discharge, your student visitor J-1 visa expires and you must leave the U.S. at that time. Remaining beyond the length of time authorized by your particular J-1 student visa will result in your status being changed to illegal status, thereby potentially limiting your re-entry into the U.S. at a later date.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption