J-1 Exchange Students & Scholars FAQs


We are here to help you with your immigration responsibilities and explain your immigration benefits as international students and scholars. Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions links below to find more information on common questions that may arise during your stay.

For answers to many of your questions:

Staying In Status
Employment Questions
Other Questions

J-1 Staying In Status


What is a full course load?
If you are an undergraduate student, you are required to be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per Fall/Spring semester.
If you are a graduate student, you are required to be enrolled in at least 9 credit hours per Fall/Spring semester.

Am I allowed to take online courses?
J-1 students are permitted to take online courses; however, no online course may count towards your full course load hours.

Can I drop a course?
You are required to see an Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) to request a Reduced Course Load if you cannot be registered full-time. A Reduced Course Load can only be approved under certain circumstances. Permission from your academic advisor is not enough. You MUST get permission from the Office of International Student Services.

Am I required to have health insurance?
Yes, each semester a hold is placed on your Marshall University record that will prevent you from registering for classes until you provide proof of health insurance.

What if I already have health insurance from my home country?
Insurance purchased in your home country will usually not be sufficient. The Office of International Student Services recommends that students buy insurance through Insurance for Students, Inc. This plan meets all the requirements set by the Office of International Student Services.

What do I do if I lost my DS-2019?
Contact the Office of International Student Services and fill out the Request for a New I-20 or DS-2019 so a new DS-2019 can be issued.

J-1 Employment Questions


Can I work as a student in J-1 status?
Students in J-1 student status may engage in two kinds of employment:

  1. Academic training related to the course of study
  2. Other employment related to academic funding, on-campus work, or economic necessity.

Each kind of employment has its own criteria and limits. See an ARO in the Office of International Student Services for more information.

Can I work as a J-1 exchange visitor?
J-1 exchange visitors may work on-campus part-time when classes are in session, and full-time during semester and summer breaks. You are required to have authorization from an ARO BEFORE you can work on-campus. You will need to provide a letter from your employer stating job description, location, and number of hours work per week.

Can I work off-campus as a J-1 exchange visitor or J-2 dependent?
J-1 exchange visitors and J-2 dependents are eligible to work off-campus in certain circumstances as long as they have maintained their immigration status. YOU ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO WORK OFF-CAMPUS WITH PERMISSION FROM AN ARO.

Can I get a Social Security card?
A social security number may be applied for if you have received authorization to work from an ARO and have a job offer.

How can I get a Social Security Card?
First, you must have a job or an offer of a job. You will need to bring a letter from your employer stating your job description, location of employment, and number of hours you will work per week. Additionally, you must submit an SSN Status Verification Letter Request Form. The Office of International Student Services will provide you a status verification letter to submit with your SSN application.  For more information, view the SSN Information handout.

J-1 Other Questions


What do I do if I move to another address?
You will need to notify the Office of International Student Services within 10 days of moving to a new address so we can update your information in SEVIS. Please fill out the “Change of Address Form for SEVIS” available in the Office of International Student Services.

How do I get a driver’s license?
J-1 students and scholars are eligible to apply for a WV driver’s license. You will need a letter issued by an ARO stating you are currently studying at Marshall University. To request a letter, you must fill out the Status Verification Letter Request Form and return to the Office of International Student Services. If you are applying for a driver’s license, you will need to take a written exam and will also need to complete a driving test.

For more information, please go to http://local.dmv.org/west-virginia/cabell-county/huntington/dmv-office-locations.php.