J-1 Scholars/Employees: Maintaining/Extending Status

J-1 Scholars/Employees Maintaining/Extending Status

It is important for you to maintain valid visa status while in the United States and at UMass Amherst. Please contact the International Programs Office (IPO) if you have any questions or concerns. We can guide you and help ensure your compliance with regulations. Please do your part to make sure the IPO always has the most accurate, up-to-date information about you, and inform the IPO of the following in advance:

  • Plans to travel outside the United States. Always check with the IPO several weeks before traveling to make sure you have all necessary documents and signatures.
  • Change of residential address within 10 days 
  • Change of UMass Amherst department, lab, or center 
  • Change in funding (source and/or amount) 
  • Change of appointment percentage or title 
  • Change in work location or additional work location 
  • Leave of absence 
  • Leaving the U.S. for an extended period of time  (not vacation)
  • Termination of appointment 

Always pursue your teaching and/or research activities. Do not engage in activities not authorized under your nonimmigrant visa program. If you are not sure if an activity would be permitted, check with the IPO in advance. 

Failure to maintain your J status could result in immigration enforcement.

Early Departure or Change in Plans

The IPO is required to report in SEVIS if you do not come to UMass Amherst or if you leave before the end date on your DS-2019. Please tell us when you intend to leave UMass Amherst, if you cancel your plans to come to UMass Amherst, or if your start date will be delayed. Regulations require action on a SEVIS record if the end of appointment/visit is more than 15 days before the original end date listed on the most recent DS-2019.

Extending Your Stay, Changing Status, and Future Appointments

Some scholars may extend their permission to stay and work at UMass Amherst. You are permitted to remain in the United States until the end date shown on your visa document (such as the Form DS-2019 or I-797) or on the most recent admission stamp in your passport or paper Form I-94. The expiration date of your visa stamp is not relevant in this respect. If you seek a longer affiliation, discuss this with your supervisor or department headquarters several months in advance. Scholars sponsored by UMass Amherst are entered into the IPO's database and the IPO sends a reminder to you in advance of the expiration of current your document end date. It is important for you or your department to follow up as we need processing time to complete extensions or changes in current status.

If you are in J-1 visa status, refer to the end date of your Form DS-2019 rather than your admission stamp or Form I-94. Permission to work at UMass Amherst and to leave and reenter the United States in J-1 status ends as of the end date on your DS-2019 or the last date of your appointment, whichever is earlier. This date is followed by an automatic 30-day grace period during which you may remain in the United States. Applications for extension of stay must be submitted before your authorized stay expires.

Pre-Baccalaureate student scholars are only eligible for Short Term scholar category (maximum 6 month appointment).

How to Extend your J-1 Status

The department/lab/center will need to initiate this if you are on UMass Amherst J-1 sponsorship. When you receive the notice that your DS-2019 is ending soon, please start the conversation early. IPO takes approximately 10 business days to issue a new DS-2019. Departments will need to refer to the instructions provided on the IPO webpage to complete the request. If you think you may wish to remain on appointment at UMass Amherst for longer than the limit that is allowed in your current nonimmigrant status, it is crucial for you to talk with an IPO staff member well before your authorized stay expires.

A change of status may be possible, but requires careful advanced planning. Those in J-1 status should inquire about options more than one year in advance.

Mandatory Medical Insurance   

Mandatory Medical Insurance is required for those visiting on a J-1/J-2 visa. Those visiting on other visa classifications will need to verify with their sponsoring agency on Medical Insurance requirements. Please note Massachusetts Health Insurance requirements for residents of Massachusetts. 

The U.S. State Department has mandated, via federal regulations, that all Exchange Visitors holding the J-1 visa maintain medical coverage for themselves and their dependents. Maintaining medical coverage is a condition of your J-1 visa status. The coverage must meet the US State Department guidelines , which were sent to you with your visa application. If UMass or your sponsoring agency is not providing medical coverage, you must purchase your own. You may select the medical insurance that is best for you and any family; however, here is the minimum coverage that must be met:

  • $100,000 per accident or illness
  • A deductible of no more than $500 per illness
  • Medical evacuation in the amount of $50,000
  • Repatriation coverage for up to $25,000