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Once accepted to the university, students are issued either an I-20 or DS-2020 Certificate of Eligibility. These documents are necessary when applying at an American consulate or embassy for an F-1 (I-20) or J-1 (DS-2020) non-immigrant visa. Visit the US State Departments website for more details.


The primary differences in F-1 and J-1 visas are:

  • J-1 students must be supported substantially by funding from any source other than person or family funds, unless the exchange program is carried out pursuant to a written agreement between an American and foreign education institution or government.
  • J-1 students must be able demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to cover the entire duration of their program of study.
  • F-1 students have no restrictions on the sources of funding.
  • F-1 students have to demonstrate only the first year of funding, with the continued ability to access adequate funding after the first year.

Academic Issues

  • J-1 students are allowed to change to higher degree, but cannot move from one degree level to a lower degree or from non-degree to degree student.  They must also remain in the same field of study as listed on the DS-2020 used for entry to the US.
  • F-1 students have no restrictions on either changing degrees or fields of study.


  • J-1 students must have the authorization of their Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) for all employment.
  • F-1 students do not need the authorization of their Designated School Official (DSO) for on-campus employment.  For other types of employment, they must have either the authorization of their DSO or must apply to the US Citizenship & Immigration Services.


The Grace Period After Study is Completed

  • J-1 students have 30 days.
  • F-1 students have 60 days.


  • J-2 dependents can apply for work authorization and can pursue a degree.
  • F-1 dependents can neither work nor pursue a degree.

The Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement

  • Certain J-1 students are subject to the Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement, see the form below.
  • F-1 students are not subject to this requirement.

Download : Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement