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F-1 and J-1 Differences

Once accepted to the university, students are issued either an I-20 or DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility. These documents are necessary when applying at an American consulate or embassy for an F-1 (I-20) or J-1 (DS-2019) non-immigrant visa. Visit the US State Department's website for more details.

The primary differences in F-1 and J-1 visas are:

  • J-1 students must be supported substantially by funding from any source other than personal or family funds, unless the exchange program is carried out pursuant to a written agreement between an American and foreign education institution or government.
  • F-1 students have no restrictions on the sources of funding.
  • J-1 students must be able to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to cover the entire duration of their program of study.
  • F-1 students must demonstrate that they have funding for the first year, with the continued ability to access adequate funding.

F-1/J-1 Immigration Fee

  • UK has assessed an F-1/J-1 Immigration Fee in the amount of $60.00 each fall and spring semester, for all F-1 and J-1 enrolled international students.  This fee is necessary to cover costs associated with continued compliance with the regulatory obligations of the Department of Homeland Security.  The fee can be viewed on the Registrar’s website

Academic Issues

  • J-1 students are allowed to change to higher degree, but cannot move from one degree level to a lower degree, or from non-degree to degree seeking student.  They must also remain in the same field of study as listed on the DS-2019 used for entry to the US.
  • F-1 students have no restrictions on either changing degrees or fields of study.


  • J-1 students must have the authorization of their Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) for all employment.
  • F-1 students do not need the authorization of their Designated School Official (DSO) for on-campus employment.  For other types of employment off-campus, they must have either the authorization of their DSO or must apply to the US Citizenship & Immigration Services.

The Grace Period After Study is Completed

  • J-1 students have 30 days.
  • F-1 students have 60 days.


  • J-2 dependents can apply for work authorization and can pursue a degree.
  • F-1 dependents can neither work nor pursue a degree.

The Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement

  • Certain J-1 students are subject to the Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement, see below.
  • F-1 students are not subject to this requirement.