Comparing F-1 and J-1 Status
The majority of international students in the U.S. are in F-1 student immigration status. Other students may qualify for J-1 exchange visitor immigration status (student category).
Factors such as eligibility, employment options during studies, restrictions for dependent family members and long term plans may affect a student's choice between F-1 or J-1 status. Below the differences are outlined.
Eligibility for F-1 Status:
Students admitted to a program which constitutes a full course of study are eligible for F-1 status. Funding may come from personal and/or outside sources.
Eligibility for J-1 Status:
Students admitted to a full course of study at Babson College are eligible for J-1 status only if at any time during their educational program in the United States they meet one of the following five criteria:
In any time during their educational program in the U.S. they meet one of the following criteria:
- They or their program are financed directly or indirectly by the U.S. Government, the student's home government, or an international organization of which the United States is a member; or
- The exchange program is carried out pursuant to an agreement between the U.S. and a foreign government; or
- The exchange program is carried out pursuant to a written agreement between:
- An American and foreign educational institution
- An American educational institution and a foreign government
- A U.S. state or local government and a foreign government; or
- The exchange visitor student is supported substantially (at least 51% of total program expenses) by source(s) other than personal or family funds.
On-Campus Employment in F-1 Status:
Permitted during full time studies; part time employment when school is in session, full time during periods of recess.
On-Campus Employment in J-1 Status:
Permitted during full time studies with authorization; part time employment when school is in session, full time during periods of recess with permission of International Student Adviser.
Off-Campus Employment in F-1 Status:
Optional Practical Training (OPT): F-1 students are eligible to apply for permission to work off campus for up to a 12 month period of training that is directly related to their studies. OPT can be used during full time studies (or after completion of studies); part time when school is in session and full time during periods of recess. All time used it counted towards the allowable 12 month period. This benefit is approved by the USCIS. It is not required that you have specific employment prior to application for this benefit. Once approved however, you can not have a period of unemployment that exceeds 90 days.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT): F-1 students are eligible to apply for off-campus work authorization during their program of study if the work is an integral part of their curriculum. CPT can be part time when school is in session and full time during school vacation periods. There is no limit to how much CPT can be used but 12 or more months of full tie CPT will result in the loss of the OPT benefit. CPT is approved by ISSS. It is required that you have specific employment prior to application for this benefit.
Off-Campus Employment in J-1 Status:
Academic Training (AT): J-1 students are eligible to apply for permission to work off-campus for a period of time equal to their program length (maximum duration is 18 months) that is directly related to their studies. AT can be used both during studies and/or after graduation. This benefit is not automatic and must be approved by an ISSS Advisor. It is required that you have specific employment prior to application for this benefit. For post- completion work, you will not be eligible for this benefit if you do not have a job in place before you complete your program.
Dependents in F-2 Status:
Not eligible for employment in the U.S.
Not eligible for full-time study in the U.S.
Dependents in J-2 Status:
Eligible to apply for permission to work in the USCIS through the duration of the primary J-1’s program once they have entered the US in the J-2 category. This permission is obtained through an application submitted to the USCIS.
May engage in full-time study in the U.S.
Two-year Home Residence Requirement:
Those in F-1/F-2 Status are not subject to two year home residency requirement.
Two-year Home Residence Requirement:
Some Exchange Visitors and their dependents in J-1/J-2 status may be rendered subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement upon program completion. This "two-year residence" requirement applies to you if:
- you receive any funding (including nominal travel grants) from your home government or a U.S. government agency.
- trained personnel in your field are identified by your home government as being in short supply and your field has consequently been included on the U.S. government's "Exchange Visitor's Skills List."
- You are receiving graduate medical education An exchange visitor who is subject to this requirement must reside for an aggregate of two (2) years in his or her country of nationality or last legal permanent residence or have the requirement waived before being eligible for other U.S. immigration statuses, including H, L or permanent resident status.