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International Student and Scholar Support

Maintaining Your Status

Visiting Scholars and Student Interns at the University of South Carolina are granted rights and responsibilities, as defined by the regulations of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. To maintain your visa status, Visiting Scholars and Student Interns under a J-1 visa must abide by the rules described below. If you are a student on a J-1 visa enrolled at UofSC, some of the information here does not apply for you. Visit this page for specific information about how to maintain your status. 

The Exchange Visitor (Research, Short-term Scholar or Student Intern) must arrive in the U.S. within 30 days prior to the start date indicated on the DS-2019. If the Exchange Visitor cannot arrive by that date, he or she should request an amended DS-2019 through his or her host department. To enter the United States the Exchange Visitor must carry the following documents in hand and present them to the U.S. customs officer:

  • Passport valid for at least six months beyond your entry date to the U.S.
  • J-1 (or J-2) visa stamp. (Canadian citizens are visa-exempt.)
  • Original Form DS-2019.
  • Receipt evidencing payment of the SEVIS fee.
  • Documentation of the source and amount of your financial support.
  • Original offer letter from host USC academic department.

At the U.S. port of entry the Exchange Visitor will likely be asked questions related to his or her visit. The Exchange Visitor should clearly indicate that he or she is entering as a J-1 Exchange Visitor in order to visit the University of South Carolina.

As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you are here to pursue a specific objective, research goal, learning experience, etc. You are not allowed to engage in activities which alter your principal program objectives. 

The Exchange Visitor’s passport must be valid at all times during his or her stay. If the passport is lost or stolen, the Exchange Visitor must file a police report immediately. Not only will this assist with potentially recovering the missing material, it will protect the Exchange Visitor from liability and aid in replacing the lost documents; likely, the Visitor’s government will require a police report before a new passport is issued. While in the U.S., it is not generally suggested that the Exchange Visitor carry the original passport for day-to-day activities, but it is suggested that photocopies of visa-related material be carried.

All J-1 Exchange Visitors must maintain adequate health insurance for the duration of the exchange program. Failure to maintain adequate health insurance (for yourself and all dependents) is considered to be a violation of the Exchange Visitor Program regulations, which will result in termination of your J-1 program.

Language proficiency is required to participate in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. For more information, see this section of the ISSS website.

The Exchange Visitor is eligible for an HR appointment within the department at UofSC. As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you may only work or conduct research in the field listed under item 4 on your Form DS-2019.  You cannot undertake any form of work, paid or unpaid, without prior consultation and written approval from ISSS. You should not resign from your position at UofSC or accept a change in position appointment (such as a change in work location, a change from unpaid to paid status, etc.) without first receiving authorization from ISSS. 

All J-1 Exchange Visitors are required to inform ISSS within 10 days of any change of your physical address. Please complete the Change of Address Form online and submit it to ISSS.

To travel outside of the U.S. during your Exchange program, you will need to obtain a travel endorsement on your DS-2019 before you leave. You should not leave the U.S. for an extended time (>1 week) without first discussing with your USC supervisor and ISSS. When traveling for more than 30 days, you should take your family with you.

When you or your dependents leave the U.S. permanently, please submit the Departure Form before your departure so ISSS can update your immigration record accordingly. 

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