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Immigration Requirements for Exchange Students

Students participating in reciprocal exchange programs are issued Form DS-2019 to enter the U.S. on a J-1 visa for the duration of their academic study period, usually one or two semesters. Reciprocal exchange students enroll in a non-degree academic program, according to the terms of exchange agreements between UT Austin and their home universities.

  • For important information about your immigration status, read the New Student Immigration Information page.
  • The DS-2019 will be issued by the Exchange Student Advisor in International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS).
  • The J-1 visa stamped in the passport is for permission to enter the U.S. Once you enter the U.S., the DS-2019 and I-94 form, received at the port of entry, are the active documents that give you permission to remain in the U.S.
  • Your DS-2019 is valid until the date in section 3. You may remain in the U.S. up to 30 days after this date.  However, you cannot work or re-enter the U.S. as a student using your DS-2019 after the date in section 3.
  • If you plan to leave the U.S. and re-enter during your program, be sure your DS-2019 has been signed by an ISSS immigration advisor before you leave the U.S. Check to see that your passport, visa and DS-2019 are valid for re-entry. Students traveling to Mexico, the Caribbean, or Canada should read the visa information handout (PDF) for information about re-entering the U.S. with an expired visa.
  • Consult an immigration advisor in the International Office for questions concerning all immigration matters.

Full-time Course Load Requirement

United States immigration regulations stipulate that students must be registered for a "full-time course load" unless their academic programs state otherwise. A full-time course load at UT Austin is 12 credit hours of undergraduate courses or 9 credit hours for MBA or Law exchange students.

Employment

On Campus Employment

Please be advised that while exchange students in J-1 status are authorized to engage in up to 20 hours a week of on-campus employment, there is a SEVIS reporting requirement that must be followed.  Students in J-1 status who are engaging in on-campus employment should email hotline@austin.utexas.edu and report the following information:

  • Employing department
  • Employment start date (end date will be the end of the semester)

Please note:  Employment must be reported every semester, or every time you begin/end a position.

See the On Campus Employment (PDF) handout for additional information.

Academic Training

Reciprocal exchange students are eligible to apply for academic training (PDF) as part of their UT academic exchange programs, usually at the end of the semester. The training, whether an internship, employment, or research, must directly relate to the students’ academic program undertaken at UT. The purpose of this opportunity is to give students “practical experience in their academic field of study”. Guidelines for academic training are established by J-1 visa regulations.

Authorization for Academic Training cannot exceed the length of time the exchange student was enrolled at UT, and can never exceed 12 months. For example, students completing a nine-month academic program may be authorized to accept an internship of up to nine months; a one semester program would allow for up to four months of academic training.

Students applying for academic training need to do so before the program end date listed on their DS-2019, and must do so at the ISSS office during walk-in advising hours (applications are not routed through USCIS or Department of State).  Students authorized for academic training may engage in authorized internships/employment that are located anywhere in the United States, and they are able to accept payment, but must have a U.S. social security number in order to do so.  For information on how to apply for your social security number, please see the Social Security Information (PDF) handout.  If you intend to apply for academic training, please do so early, as the social security application process can take up to a month.