Cal Poly

Responsibilities and Benefits of J-1 Visa Status

Your visa status in the U. S. is ultimately a matter between yourself the Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). You are expected to learn and understand the requirements and benefits of J-1 visa status, to meet those requirements and maintain status at all times while in the U.S. You also have the responsibility to inform the International Center (Cal Poly International Center) at Cal Poly of any changes that might affect your relationship as a student here and your ability or interest to maintain J-1 visa status.

There are specific immigration reporting requirements for J-1 international students. The SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) is a mechanism to electronically transmit the required information to the DOS and DHS throughout a student stay in the United States. Schools will be required to regularly provide updates through SEVIS regarding arrival, departure, change of address and approved academic training. Maintaining visa status and full-time enrollment is critical to completing your academic program and your period of authorized stay in the USA.

The International Student Advisor is available at the Cal Poly International Center office to help you understand your immigration responsibilities and apply for benefits. You are encouraged to meet with the advisor as often as needed in order to make informed decisions before you take any action that could result in the loss of your visa status. Please also read New International Students page for updated information. Also read online information on Applying for a Visa.

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  • Purchase mandatory health insurance. Exchange Visitors are required as a condition of their J-1 status in the U.S. to carry health insurance for themselves and their accompanying J-2 visa dependent family members. The J visa regulations require minimum coverage of up to $50,000 per accident or illness; $7,500 for repatriation of remains; $10,000 for medical evacuation to the home country; and the California State University requires that the deductible not exceed $200 per accident or illness.
  • Only attend classes at Cal Poly.
  • Enroll and complete full-time coursework (12 units for undergraduate and 8 units for graduate students) during fall, winter, spring, and summer quarters.
  • Do not work off-campus.
  • Notify the International Student Advisor at the Cal Poly International Center office before you begin any on-campus employment and complete the On-Campus Work Report.
  • Limit all on-campus employment to a total of 20 hours or less while school is in session.
  • Keep your passport valid at all times (if expired, renew at your country’s Consulate or Embassy in the U.S.)
    Request a travel signature on your DS-2019 at least one week before leaving the U.S. in order to return and continue your exchange program.
  • Obey all state and federal laws.
  • Report any change of address to the Cal Poly International Center office within 10 days of the change.
  • Request an extension of stay or academic training 6 weeks prior to the end date on your DS-2019.

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  • You are eligible to apply for part-time on-campus employment, 20 hours or less per week while school is in session and full-time during vacation periods. Full-time employment is any amount of time more than 20 hours per week.
  • You can stay in the U.S. with an expired J-1 visa stamp as long as your status is maintained.
  • There is no restriction on travel within the U.S.
  • You are eligible to apply for Academic Training work experience with your home university’s approval and recommendation by your Cal Poly Academic Advisor.
  • You have 30 days to depart the U.S. after the expiration date on your DS-2019 form.

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Contact Information

Contact International Students and Scholars by email at, call us at 805-756-5837 or visit us in the Cal Poly International Center in Building 52, Room E-32.

Note: The information obtained from the Cal Poly International Center Office should not be used as the sole source of information for making decisions that may affect one's legal status in the U.S. or one's right to study, teach, conduct research, or work. Each student is individually responsible for maintaining his or her visa status.

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Cal Poly International Center
Building 52, Room E32
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407-0721
Phone: (805) 756-1477
Fax: (805) 756-5484

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