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J-1 Intern Orientation

Maintaining Status

J-1 Student Interns are non-immigrants currently enrolled and pursuing a degree at a postsecondary academic institution outside the United States. Student interns may participate in a student internship program for up to 12 months for each degree/major. A J-1 student intern is admitted to the U.S. for a period known as “duration of status” (D/S). Failure to maintain J-1 non-immigrant status is grounds for removal from the U.S. under the Immigration & Naturalization Act. Upon entry to the U.S. as a J-1 student intern, you accept responsibility to abide by the conditions of your non-immigrant status. The information provided here should serve as your guide to keeping legal J-1 status throughout your stay in the U.S. Consult ISSS if you have any questions regarding these or other issues regarding your non-immigrant status in the U.S.


  • DS-2019
    • Pursue the Program Objective outlined on the DS-2019 form and in the SEVIS record. Based upon:
      • Subject/Field code and description/remarks
      • Site of Activity (Department name and location)
      • Activity should be “work-based learning” at least 32 hours per week
      • Cannot involve patient care or contact
      • Always be aware of the DS-2019 Expiration Date found on DS-2019 page 1, item #3.  Do not let the DS-2019 expire!
      • Your J-1 Status is dependent on your “Program Completion” date or your D-2019 expiration date, whichever is earlier.
      • Passport
      • Must be valid at least 6 months into the future
      • To renew your passport, contact your home country’s embassy.
      • I-94 should be marked “J-1 — D/S” (or “J-2 — D/S” for dependents).  If not, see ISSS.

Address Change

• Report to your International Student Adviser any change of address or telephone number within 10 days of your move
• ISSS Change of Address Form can be found online

Program Extension

• Program extension is possible beyond the current DS-2019 expiration date, up to 12 months total
• Department submits Student Intern Application to ISSS with new appointment letter and proof of funding at least 2 weeks in advance of expiration date

Internship Program Evaluations

• All programs must conduct a concluding evaluation prior to the conclusion of the internship, and both student intern and immediate supervisor must sign the evaluation forms
• Programs lasting more than six months must conduct both a midpoint and concluding evaluation
• Submit a copy of all evaluations to ISSS

Grace Periods

  • 30-day grace period after program completion.  During the 30-day grace period, you may:
    • Remain in the US to prepare for departure.
    • Apply for a change of status
    • CAUTION: no travel abroad and US reentry on the same DS-2019 and no employment permitted during the 30-day grace period.
  • Unapproved withdrawals or terminations
    • No grace period
    • Immediate departure is expected if you fail to maintain status.

Health Insurance

  • Health insurance is required at all times for student interns and dependents in U.S. and must meet Department Of State standards
    • J-1 & J-2 are required by DOS to have health insurance (including medical evacuation and repatriation benefits) during stay in U.S.
    • Complete and submit to ISSS the J-1 Exchange Visitor Health Insurance Requirement Acknowledgement & Pledge

Interns who are considered Vanderbilt Employees with a salary and eligible for benefits (paid by Vanderbilt University)
Contact your department administrator or Human Resources (HR) to enroll in health insurance benefits.  HR is located at 2525 West End Avenue.

1) Blue Cross Blue Shield – Meets all five Department of State (DOS) Requirements
2) Aetna – Meets the first three DOS requirements only

o Take additional Gallagher insurance rider to meet the other two requirements.

Options for Student Interns and Dependents not considered Vanderbilt Employees
Vanderbilt University cannot recommend, or endorse any specific health insurance company or policy.

• A list of health insurance providers can be found online here.

• Additional Option for Dependents only ISO,


Upon leaving the U.S., your I-94 will be collected by an USCIS officer or airline employee at the point of departure. In order to re-enter, you will need a current DS-2019 (signed for travel within the last 6 months), a valid J-1 visa, and a valid passport. A new I-94 will be issued upon re-entering the U.S.

• Automatic Visa Revalidation: When traveling to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent Caribbean Islands for 30 days or less, the J-1 visa, if expired, will be considered to be automatically extended for this type of travel only.
• Visiting Other Counties: If you will be traveling to a country which is not your home country, you may need a visa to enter that country.  Please check with the consulate of that country which handles Visa services for Tennessee.
• Dependent DS-2019’s should also be signed for travel.

212(e) Two Year Requirement

The 2-year home country physical presence requirement is one of the most unique characteristics of exchange visitor status. This rule is tied to the J-1 exchange visitor’s field of study and country of last permanent residence. Not all J-1 exchange visitors are subject to this rule. If a student is subject to the 2-year home residency requirement, it is noted on the DS-2019 and on the visa stamp.

To be eligible to return to the U.S. in immigrant (permanent resident/green card) status, H status (temporary worker) you must:
• Return to the “home” country and be physically present there for an aggregate of two years; or
• Receive a 212(e) waiver from DOS and home country

o For more information on waivers, please visit

Dependents (J-2)

• Maintain separate DS-2019; Duration of Status is same as the “primary” visitor (J-1)
• May travel abroad and re-enter without the “primary”; Must obtain travel signature by International Student Adviser
• Must have health insurance
• May be employed within the U.S. see J-2 Employment Fact Sheet
• May enroll in a degree program full-time or part-time