UCI International Center

Comparing F-1 and J-1 Visa

Section 1

F-1 Status

The F-1 is the most common status used by international students in the U.S.

J-1 Status

The J-1 visa is generally used for students in specific educational exchange programs such as the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Fulbright, LASPAU, DAAD, AmidEast, or others.

It may also be used by the University for students in degree programs. To be eligible for the J-1 you must first meet the following criteria:

  • Have adequate financial support for all of your school and living expenses, including additional financial support for any accompanying family members, for the duration of your degree program as determined by normative time


  • 51% or more of your total financial support comes from an institutional or government sponsor in the form of a scholarship, fellowship, assistantship, stipend, tuition waiver, or other direct support provided specifically for the educational program. Personal, loans, or support from family or individuals do not qualify. 


  • You are participating in a specific educational exchange program (see above).

Comparison Between the J-1 and F-1 Status

F-1 J-1
Funding Any source of financial support is acceptable. Must show financial support for the first year of the program when requesting the initial document. Must have substantial [51%] institutional financial support provided specifically for the educational program to obtain the initial document and to request any extensions of the DS-2019. Must show financial support for the entire length of program when requesting the initial document.
On-Campus Employment On-campus employment does not require a work permit On-campus requires work authorization from the program sponsor.
Off-Campus Employment Optional Practical Training [OPT] Post-Completion employment permission is available for a 12-month period. A job offer is not required to apply. STEM degrees have the option to apply for a 24-month extension. Academic Training (employment) is available for up to 18 months, but you must have a job offer before the end of studies. An extension for up to 18 months is possible for post-doctoral research. Off-campus work during the degree program reduces the total period of Academic Training available after program completion.
Dependents Spouse and children (under age 21) may apply for F-2 visa Spouse and children (under age 21) may apply for J-2 visa
Dependent Study Options F-2 dependent spouses are allowed to participate in part-time study in courses offered by an SEVP-certified school. F-2 dependent spouses may also engage in study that is recreational or avocational in nature.

J-2 dependents are eligible to study part-time or full-time in the U.S.

Dependent Work Authorization F-2 dependents [spouse, child] are not eligible for work authorization. J-2 dependent [spouse, child] employment is available.
Home Residency Requirements No Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement. J-1 and J-2 dependents may be subject to the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement

Other Nonimmigrant Classifications

New students may already be in the U.S. with another type of nonimmigrant status. Some of these classifications allow you to attend school and some do not. Students in F-2 and B1/B2 status are not allowed to study full-time at UCI and must contact the International Center for additional information.

Questions About Your Status

Contact a student advisor at the UCI International Center if you have any questions about your current or future immigration status. For more information about various types of nonimmigrant status, visit the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Service (USCIS) website.