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International Students & Scholars

J-1 Student Visas

There are several J-1 visa categories, including J-1 student. To be eligible for VCU sponsorship for a J-1 student visa you must:

  1. Enroll as a degree or certificate student at a university abroad
  2. Participate in a formal exchange agreement between VCU and your university abroad
  3. Enroll as a full-time student at VCU but may not receive a degree or certificate from VCU
  4. Be at VCU for only 1 or 2 semesters

As a J-1 student visa holder, you must maintain your legal status at all times. Here are the basics:

  • Be sure your passport and DS-2019 are valid at all times
  • Maintain full-time enrollment: 12 credits/semester for undergraduate students, 9 credits/semester for graduate students
  • If you cannot maintain full-time enrollment, obtain Reduced Course Load (RCL) approval from GEO before dropping below full-time enrollment.
  • On-campus employment: You may work up to 20 hours/week during the semester, up to 40 hours/week during scheduled VCU winter, spring, and summer breaks.  On campus means hired and paid directly by VCU or by an outside contractor with a VCU contract to provide services to students. If you have a J-1 student visa, you must obtain advance written GEO authorization to work on campus.   
  • All other employment: whether on- or off-campus, paid or not, requires advance written GEO authorization.  
  • Travel signature — To return to the US from a trip abroad, be prepared to present the following items upon your arrival in the country: Valid passport, valid J-1 visa stamp, valid DS-2019 with a travel signature no older than 12 months.

Other J-1 regulations may apply.  Violations of J-1 visa regulations can lead to serious legal problems.  If you have questions about the J-1 visa regulations, please ask GEO first.

For more information, visit our

Forms Library

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