What Documents Determine a J-1’s Legal Status?

A J-1 Visa holder’s status is determined by the following documents: Form DS-2019, a J-1 visa and Form I-94. Let’s look at these documents individually:

Form DS-2019:  this is a government controlled “Certificate of Eligibility” issued by a Department of State designated sponsor of the J-1 visa program. The form permits a prospective participant in the J-1 visa program to approach a US embassy or consulate to apply for a J-1 visa. Form DS-2019 identifies the prospective participant, the sponsor, the site of activity and start and end date of the program.

J-1 visa: the non-immigrant visa issued by a US embassy or consulate. The expiration date of the passport visa is the last day on which a J-1 visa holder will be able to enter the US on J status.

Form I-94: this is the Arrival/Departure record issued en-route to the US. The I-94 is normally marked “D/S” for Duration of Status.  Duration of Status means that the J-1 visa holder remains in J status as long as their DS-2019 is valid and their program remains in good standing.

Next week we will look at how long a J-1 can legally remain in the United States (Hint: it is longer than you might think).

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