Current J-1 Scholar Information

Maintaining J-1 Scholar Status

As a J-1 scholar in the United States, you are required to follow specific regulations for your visa type. Below is a general overview of certain J-1 requirements, however please note that it does not contain all rules for every situation.

Your J-1 status is your responsibility. ISSS is available to help you navigate the immigration rules specific to you. Please never hesitate to contact Ashley Koerner (akoerner@mines.edu) with questions about your status. Below are specific considerations for maintaining status while in the United States:

  • Complete your Online Check-in with International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) as soon as possible after your arrival into the United States.
    • For check-in, you will need the following:
      • Scan of your J-1 Visa Stamp with the CBP entry stamp
      • Scan of your DS-2019 with consular processing
      • Evidence of valid insurance
        • Review the “Insurance Requirements” drop-down below.
    • You should take a moment to retrieve your I-94 Record as well – This should always read “J-1, D/S” along with the entry stamp in your passport opposite your visa.
    • After completing the online check-in, you will receive an email to schedule your in-person scholar orientation. In-person orientation is a mandatory component of the J-1 scholar regulations.
  • Update the ISSS anytime your personal information changes. The ISSS must have up-to-date information for changes in:
    • Name
    • Contact information (email, phone)
    • Physical mailing address
    • Program scope and activities
    • Program dates
    • Funding
    • Dependents
    • Insurance
  • Keep your passport valid. Passports can often be renewed by your embassy located in the United States.
  • Abide by with the U.S. Department of State’s health insurance requirements for J-1 visa holders and their dependents. Failure to carry sufficient accident and sickness insurance is considered to be a violation of the Exchange Visitor Program and your J-1 visa status.
    • Review the “Insurance Requirements” drop-down below.
  • If you will travel outside of the United States, obtain a travel signature on your DS-2019 for yourself and all dependents. You should verify your passport(s) and visa(s) will be valid for the duration of travel and at least 2-4 weeks after your return to the U.S..
    • Please review the “Traveling Outside of the United States” drop-down below.
    • If you will be outside of the United States for longer than 30 days, an “Out of Country” notation is required on your account. Work with your academic department to complete the Out of Country Request form.
  • Your program dates are provided in Box 3 of your DS-2019. These are the dates during which you may conduct your research related to the scholar program. You may not begin earlier than the start date nor continue the research beyond the end date. If you need an extension to continue your research activities at Mines, you should discuss your options with your department.
    • Review the “Extension of J-1 Scholar Status” drop-down below. 
  • If being paid by Mines, you should obtain a U.S. Social Security Number. This will be necessary when you file taxes for the United States and your U.S. earnings. Review the “Social Security and ITIN” information below. 
  • Do not accept unauthorized employment. The only activity you are permitted to perform is the one described in Box 4 of the DS-2019 form.
    • Exception: In rare instances, you may be eligible for incidental employment authorization.
      • Review the “Incidental Employment” drop-down below.
  • Leave the U.S. within 30 days of the ending date of your exchange visitor program. This is your official grace period. You cannot continue your research into this period. This extra time is solely for tourism purposes and to wrap up your social and personal affairs in the United States.
    • If you will end your program earlier than 15 days before the end date of your DS-2019, you must notify the ISSS so we may manage your immigration record appropriately.
  • Be aware of limits on Repeat Participation, Regulatory Bars and the 212(e) Home Residency Requirement
    • Review the “Regulatory Bars Impacting J-1 Scholars” drop-down below. 

You are always welcome to come to the ISSS during walk-in hours to ask questions. The ISSS advisors are available to help with your immigration status so you may focus on your research at Mines.

Address and Personal Information Updates

Any time your personal information or program information changes, the ISSS must be notified within 10 days of the change taking effect. Changes to personal or program information are updated in your SEVIS record for the continued maintenance of your J-1 status throughout your research program at Mines. Changes to information include: 

  • Name or biographic information
  • Local U.S. address
  • Local U.S. phone number
  • Email address
  • Material changes in program focus or research topic
  • Material changes in funding amounts or sources
  • Any changes listed above for dependents

You may submit all changes directly to your ISSS advisor or by emailing isss@mines.edu.

Insurance Requirements

All J-1 Exchange Visitors, and their spouses and children who are in the US as J-2 Exchange Visitors, must maintain health insurance for the duration of their stay in the US. The Department of State has issued strict requirements for J-1 and J-2 insurance policies to meet.  These requirements are noted below:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Coverage for repatriation of remains in the amount of at least $25,000
  • Coverage for expenses related to emergency medical evacuation of the J-1 or J-2 to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

The Exchange Visitor is responsible for obtaining an insurance policy that meets these requirements prior to beginning their J-1 program activities.  Visitors in J status are strongly encouraged to enter the US with sufficient accident and sickness insurance.  Failure to comply with this insurance requirement could result in the loss of legal immigration status.

The policy must be maintained for the duration of the J-1 program. If a J-1 extends his/her program beyond the initial program end date, they are required to extend the insurance policy for themselves and any spouses or children, if applicable.

J-1s with paid appointments may be eligible for employee insurance.

  • Contact the Human Resources department about your eligibility.

J-1s with unpaid appointments are not eligible for any insurance benefits offered by Colorado School of Mines.

  • J-1 exchange visitors on unpaid appointments will be required to purchase a policy that provides the minimum benefits listed above for themselves and any J-2 family members.

J-1 Exchange Visitors are not required to have policies that adhere to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unless they have been in the US for 5 or more consecutive years.  This would generally apply to those who have obtained a Change of Status to J-1 after having a previous status for several years.

Options for J-1 insurance

There are a number of insurance companies available which offer sufficient coverage for incoming scholars.The Colorado School of Mines has an active agreement with CISI to ensure a fair rate for scholars and students of Mines. You can access this plan here:

Additional websites are listed below if you wish to compare costs with other providers who offer policies meeting the requirements for J-1/J-2 Exchange Visitors.  Please note, none of these policies are endorsed by Colorado School of Mines; however, the policies do meet the requirements.

Research and the Out of Country notation

J-1 Research Scholars who will be outside of the United States for more than 30 days are only permitted to remain outside if conducting research directly related to their Mines research program AND they have received a formal notation on their SEVIS record documenting the reason for the extended absence. 

To apply for an Out of Country notation on the J-1 SEVIS record, the ISSS must receive the following: 

  • Support from your principal investigator (PI) / Supervisor detailing your research and progress at Mines
  • Support from your principal investigator (PI) / Supervisor detailing the research which will be conducted abroad and how it is directly related to the research at Mines
  • Details from your principal investigator (PI) / Supervisor on how your program will be monitored while you are outside of the United States
  • The location name and specific address abroad where research will be conducted outside of the United States
  • The specific dates (start and end) during which you research abroad will be conducted

An Out of Country notation can be applied for a maximum period of research abroad of six months. A maximum of two Out of Country notations can be provided during a given J-1 Research Scholar program.

Traveling Outside of the United States

Travel for Leisure

While on an Active J-1 research program, J-1 scholars (and/or J-2 dependents) are able to travel within the United States as well as to other countries.

If traveling to another country, all J-1 and J-2 visa holders must obtain a travel signature on the DS-2019 prior to their departure from the United States. The travel signature indicates that a J-1 or J-2 visa holder is permitted to return to the United States after the period of travel. 

Documents to carry when traveling include: 

  • Within the United States
    • Valid, unexpired passport with J-1/J-2 visa OR valid state I.D. or driver’s license
    • Valid, unexpired DS-2019
    • Most recent I-94 record
  • Outside of the United States
    • Valid, unexpired passport with J-1/J-2 visa
      • The J-1/J-2 visa must be unexpired in order to re-enter the U.S.
    • Valid, unexpired DS-2019 with a valid, unexpired travel signature
    • Most recent I-94 record
    • Original letter of invitation or offer letter from Mines

J-1 scholars traveling outside of the country should make an effort to bring any J-2 dependents with them. If a J-1 scholar will be outside of the U.S. for less than 30 days, J-2 dependents are allowed to remain in the United States. However, if a J-1 scholar will be outside of the country for more than 30 days, J-2 dependents of that scholar are not permitted to remain in the United States. 

Travel outside of the United States for leisure should not exceed 30 days in duration. If you intend to be outside of the U.S. for more than 30 days, please review the information below and schedule an appointment to speak with your ISSS advisor. 

I-515A, 30-day Temporary Admission to the United States

In certain circumstances, an exchange visitor may be issued an I-515A, 30-day Temporary Admission to the United States. The most common occurrence of this is when an exchange visitor does not have a key travel document or a travel signature when requesting entry to the United States. 

The I-515A is a paper form that will be provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent reviewing your admissibility. It must be replied to within the 30-day window of admission. Failure to respond to the I-515A will result in unlawful presence accrual in the United States and the visitor will be required to depart as soon as possible. 

If you receive an I-515A when entering the United States, please bring the paper document and your immigration documents (passport, visa, DS-2019) to the ISSS to speak with an advisor. 

Travel after the Completion of the Program

All J-1 exchange visitors are permitted a 30-day grace period following the end of their research program at Mines. This 30-day grace period is solely for the purposes of tourism and to wrap up all affairs in the United States while preparing to return to your home country. You may not continue your research or work during this time frame. 

If you depart the United States before using all 30 days of the grace period, your J-1 status and grace period will effectively end on the date of departure. You will not be permitted to re-enter the United States unless you have another valid visa or immigration status (i.e. ESTA) allowing you to enter the United States. 

Extension of J-1 Scholar Status

Eligibility

A J-1 scholar may receive an extension of stay if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The current DS-2019 has not yet expired
  • The scholar is still engaged in the research activity shown on the DS-2019
  • The scholar is otherwise maintaining status as a J-1 exchange visitor (e.g., maintaining required health insurance coverage for self and all J-2 dependents; not engaging in unauthorized employment)
  • The scholar can demonstrate adequate funding for the period of the proposed extension
  • The extension will not carry the scholar beyond:
    • five years if categorized on the DS-2019 as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar
    • six months if categorized on the DS-2019 as a Short-Term Scholar
  • The scholar has not received an approved waiver of the Two Year Home Residency requirement (if subject to this restriction). See drop-down below for information on the 212(e) Home Residency Requirement.

Process to Apply

Request extension at least one month before the permission to stay expires (i.e. the end date shown on the DS-2019). The Host Department will need to submit the PageUp requisition to extend the J-1 status. The scholar will be invited to the Scholar Module to submit supporting funding documentation.

If fully eligible for extension, the ISSS will provide an amended DS-2019 and notify the department when it is available for pick-up.

Important Considerations

  • All J-2 dependents will also need a new DS-2019 and funding evidence must include sufficient support for them ($600 USD per month for J-2 spouse; $300 USD per month for J-2 child).
  • J-2 employment earnings cannot be used to support a J-1 exchange visitor.
  • Extending permission to stay in the U.S. in a timely manner is the responsibility of the scholar and host department. If the DS-2019 and research stay is not extended before expiration of the current DS-2019, the scholar enters their 30-day grace period and the ISSS is unable to amend the record for continued research.
Grace Periods

Your J-1 scholar program permits you two 30-day grace periods before and after your program ends. 

You are eligible to arrive to the United States up to 30 days before the Program Start Date listed on your DS-2019. You are encouraged to arrive 1-2 weeks before your start date to get acclimated, find a place to live, complete onboarding documentation, and work through jet-lag. 

You are able to remain in the United States for up to 30 days after your Program End Date listed on your DS-2019. The grace period is solely for the purposes of tourism – you may not continue your research into the grace period time. This time is intended to allow you to pack up your affairs, visit other places within the United States, and depart the country. If you depart the U.S. prior to the end of the 30 days, your J-1 status and grace period will be complete and you will not be able to re-enter using your J-1 visa or DS-2019. 

If you need additional time to complete research, you need to apply for an extension. Please review the extension information below. 

Regulatory Bars and the 212(e) Home Residency Requirement

J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to various bars and bans that affect their ability to participate in subsequent J-1 programs as well as their eligibility for various other immigration statuses.  It is important to differentiate between the 24-month Bar on repeat participation, the 12-Month Bar on repeat participation, and the 2 year home residency requirement.  The 212(e) can be applied to any J-1 exchange visitor, however the 12 and 24-month bars are specific to the Research Scholar/Professor categories. Short-term scholars and J-1 students are often only impacted by the 212(e) Home Residency Requirement.

  • J-1 participants in the Research Scholar or Professor category cannot return to Mines or any other U.S. institution as a Research Scholar or Professor for a period of two years following the completion of the program at Mines. This is a regulatory bar separate from the 212(e) Home Residency Requirements.
  • J-1 participants in the Short-Term Scholar category may be eligible to return to Mines as a Short-Term Scholar or Research Scholar/Professor. Please discuss your specific situation with an ISSS advisor.
  • J-1 participants in any other J-1 category interested in coming to Mines as a J-1 Research Scholar, Professor or Short-Term Scholar should email Ashley Koerner (akoerner@mines.edu) to discuss eligibility.

12-MONTH BAR FOR RESEARCH SCHOLAR / PROFESSOR

Individuals who have been in the U.S. for more than six months in the previous 12 month period in any non-immigrant visa status are not eligible to enter the U.S. as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor for a 12-month period. Time spent in the J-1 Short-term Scholar category does not count towards the 12-month bar. The 12-month bar applies to both the J-1 principal visa holder and any J-2 dependents. The 12-month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the U.S. in any other visa status or in some other J categories such as Short-Term Scholar or College and University Student.


24-MONTH BAR ON REPEAT PARTICIPATION FOR RESEARCH SCHOLAR / PROFESSOR

Any individual who participates in an Exchange Visitor program in the Professor or Research Scholar categories is subject to a 24-month bar on “repeat participation” in those categories. Scholars subject to the bar may not return to the U.S. as a J-1 scholar in the Professor or Research Scholar categories for the 24-month period. This bar also applies to J-2 dependents wishing to become a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar.

When a scholar either concludes or leaves a Research Scholar or Professor J-1 program, whichever happens earlier, the scholar’s record becomes inactive in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). At that point, the 24-month bar time starts to accrue. The 24-month bar will be in effect regardless of the duration of the overall program. The 24-month bar does not prevent individuals from returning to the U.S. in any other non-immigrant or immigrant visa status.

It is important for the Mines ISSS to be informed of a scholar’s departure and their future plans so that the scholar’s SEVIS record can be properly maintained to facilitate their possible return to the U.S. If a scholar will conduct research abroad which is related to the J-1 program at Mines, the International Office can put an “Out of Country” notation on the scholar’s SEVIS record. Please contact the Mines International Office to discuss future plans so we can determine the best course of action for record management.


212(E) HOME RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTThe 212(e) Home Residency Requirement is a two-year bar that can affect any J-1 exchange visitor. The 212(e) Home Residency Requirement is applied to a J-1 exchange visitor’s record at the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.

Not all J-1 visa holders are subject to this requirement. The requirement only applies to those individuals in one of the following situations:

  • J-1 visa holders who are funded by the United States Government, their own governments, or international organizations during part or all of their stay in the United States
  • J-1 visa holders whose skills are needed in their country of permanent residence as registered on the Exchange Visitor Skills List
  • J-1 visa holders who are graduates of foreign medical schools participating in internships, residencies, or clinical training programs in the United States sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)

If a J-1 exchange visitor is subject to the 212(e) Home Residency Requirement, they must return to their last country of legal permanent residence for an aggregate period of two years. During this time, they are ineligible for statuses including: temporary worker (H), intracompany transferee (L), or any immigrant status to include permanent residency. Additionally, they are ineligible for the J-1 Alien Physician category.

The 24-month bar and the 212(e) Home Residency Requirement can be satisfied at the same time. The 212(e) home residency requirement will not prevent you from reentering the U.S. with an F-1 student, B-1/B-2 (tourist) or J-1 visa in the future.

If the 212(e) Home Residency Requirement has been applied in error, their is also an advisory opinion process available. The U.S. Department of State offers a waiver process for exchange visitors who have been subject to the 212(e) Home Residency Requirement and who wish to have it removed from their record.

APPLYING FOR AN ADVISORY OPINION

In certain instances, the 212(e) home residency requirement may be incorrectly applied to an exchange visitor’s record. If you determine you have been subject to this requirement in error, you may be eligible to apply for an advisory opinion by the U.S. Department of State to have the requirement removed from your record. Review the Advisory Opinion from the U.S. Department of State.

APPLYING FOR A WAIVER

When the 212(e) home residency requirement is correctly applied, you may still be eligible for a waiver of the requirement in order to change status or apply for other non-immigrant and immigrant statuses. There are four categories in which a waiver of the Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement may be granted. Additional information is available with the U.S. Department of State.

  • No objection waiver – this is a common form of waiver request
  • Interested U.S. government agency (IGA) waiver
  • Fear of persecution waiver
  • Exceptional hardship waiver

TIPS FOR APPLYING FOR A WAIVER

  • You are encouraged to review the U.S. Department of State web site for the most up-to-date information about the advisory opinion and waiver processes
  • Follow all instructions for the waiver application provided on the U.S. DoS website and mail documents in a timely manner.
  • Make copies of all documents that you send for your records.
  • Mail your documents using a method that will provide you with a record of the mailing, such as certified mail, express mail, or overnight mail.
  • Make sure the address that you list on the form is a valid address. Waiver Division mail may not be forwarded to alternative addresses nor can they be mailed out of the country.
  • If the Waiver Review Division approves the waiver request, your J-1 status cannot be extended even if you have not reached your maximum duration of time. You must complete the current J-1 program period by the end date on your DS-2019. For this reason, you should time your application after your program has been extended to the maximum time available and while there is still time remaining in the program in case of delays in the waiver procedures.
Incidental Employment

Your Mines J-1 Research Program is effectively considered your “work” while you are in the United States on the J-1 visa. However, in rare instances, you may be eligible for incidental employment authorization which is for short-term activities directly related to and impacting your current J-1 scholar research program at Mines.

Incidental employment includes activities such as:

  • Short-term collaborations with another lab
  • Speaking at a conference where you are being paid
  • Conducting a brief experiment that is directly related to your current program with another organization affiliated with Mines
  • Short-term lectures at another university

*This list is not comprehensive.

Any opportunity which may be considered incidental employment must be approved by the ISSS and you must receive a formal letter of authorization from your ISSS advisor. Reach out to your advisor to discuss your unique situation before participating in any activity outside of your research program at Mines.

J-2 Dependent Employment

J-2 dependents of legal working age are able to request work authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  A person in J-2 status can be given authorization to work if the income from the work is solely for the J-2 dependent and children dependents, Wages earned by J-2 dependents cannot be used to support of a J-1 exchange visitor.

If USCIS approves the work authorization application, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be issued. EAD cards are valid for up to twelve months (or until the end date listed on the DS-2019, whichever is earlier) and must be renewed annually with processing time taken into account for the renewal process. A J-2 dependent may not begin employment (or continue employment) until a valid and unexpired EAD is received. 


Application Process

Review the instructions on the USCIS I-765 website for how to apply. You will need to gather the following documents to mail in to USCIS for consideration:

  • Application Fee – Personal checks or money orders must be in the exact amount and payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”
  • Two identical passport photos – These are U.S.-style passport photos that must meet the U.S. Department of State requirements.
    • Passport photos taken in your home country may not be acceptable.  Lightly print your name and your I-94 number on the back of each photograph with a pen to prevent problems should your photographs become separated from your I-765 application.  Local businesses that typically take passport photographs include drugstores, copy centers, and the post office.  ISSS does not encourage you to attempt to take these photos yourself.
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (See sample I-765 with instructions)
  • A letter from the J-2 dependent explaining why the employment is desired, specifically indicating that the income derived from employment will not be used for the support of the J-1 exchange visitor. The source and amount of separate financial support for the J-1 exchange visitor should be indicated.
    • A J-2 does not need to demonstrate financial need to receive employment authorization.
  • Copy of the J-2 DS-2019
  • Copy of the J-1 DS-2019
  • Copy of the most recent Form I-94 for the J-2
  • Copy of the most recent Form I-94 of the J-1
  • A copy of the J-2 passport biographic page
  • A copy of the U.S. J-2 visa
  • A copy of the J-1 passport biographic page
  • A copy of the U.S. J-1 visa
  • If applying for a renewal, a copy of your previous EAD
  • If you wish to receive electronic communications about your application, you may also include the G-1145, E-notification of Application form.

All of the above documents must be mailed to the proper USCIS office listed on the USCIS I-765 information website.


Processing time Information

About 3-4 weeks after you mail your application, you should receive a paper I-797, Notice of Receipt from USCIS.  This letter will contain a receipt number which will allow you to track information about your application using the USCIS Case Status Tracker.  If you do not receive the Notice of Receipt after 5 weeks, please notify the ISSS.

Typically, processing takes between 3 and 5 months. The most accurate information for processing times will be available on the USCIS processing times site.


Decision on Your Application

If your application is approved, your I-797 Notice of Approval and Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card will be physically mailed to you. 

In the event that your authorization request cannot be granted, you will receive an explanation for the denial.  Likewise, if USCIS requires additional or supporting documentation before they will proceed with your application, they will send a Request for Evidence (RFE) letter to you requesting additional information.


Social Security Number

Individuals in J-2 status who have an EAD can be issued a Social Security Number (SSN). 

Volunteering

Many international visitors lawfully present in the United States do not hold, and cannot obtain, employment authorization. However, many of these individuals may be eligible for “volunteer” activities. There is a fine line between volunteering and work as defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The U.S. Department of Labor defines volunteering as “individuals serving as unpaid volunteers in various community services. Individuals who volunteer or donate their services, usually on a part-time basis, for public service, religious or humanitarian objectives, not as employees and without contemplation of pay, are not considered employees of the religious, charitable or similar non-profit organizations that receive their service.”

The following situation might be considered “Employment” under DHS rules and not as “Volunteering”:

  • If compensation of any type is received.  Any form of compensation, whether in terms of payment, fringe benefits, or “payment-in-kind”, is prohibited.  Moreover, if the “volunteer” activities are understood by the international visitor to yield some future tangible benefit conferred by the Mines or non-Mines employer (i.e., a paid position in the future), then those activities are not permitted.
  • If the Job Duties are those which are normally compensated.  “Volunteer” (i.e., unpaid) performance of job duties that are normally compensated are prohibited.  Put another way, unless the job duties being performed or the position being filled is one that is normally performed or staffed by a volunteer, those job duties may not be performed by an international visitor without employment authorization as a “volunteer”.
  • If the position would normally be filled through a recruitment process.  If the position being filled is one in which the Mines would normally conduct an HR-supervised recruitment, then that position may not be filled by a “volunteer” who lacks employment authorization.
  • If the job is training or preparation for a paid position.  If the job duties being performed are considered by Mines or non-Mines employer to be preparatory for a paid position – i.e., training or a trial period – those job duties may not be performed by an international visitor who lacks employment authorization.
Social Security and ITIN

What is a Social Security Number?

A Social Security Number (SSN) is issued to track earnings over a worker’s lifetime. You only need to obtain a SSN one time and can re-use the same number and card in the United States throughout your lifetime.

Scholars holding J-1 status are eligible for a SSN if they are earning money from a U.S. source or organization. Dependents in J-2 status are also eligible for a SSN if they have received formal work authorization from USCIS (review J-2 Work Authorization below).

Because the SSN is linked to your fiscal identity, this is a private number that is not regularly shared with others. If you are uncertain if your SSN should be shared with someone, please contact your ISSS advisor. The International Office does not need your SSN. Additionally, never send your SSN electronically through an unsecured method or as an image.

A Social Security number is not required, and often will not be issued, to obtain a driver’s license, sign an apartment lease, obtain a U.S. cell phone, credit card, insurance, admission to an academic institution or other “non-employment” related reasons.


Application Process for the SSN

In order to issue a SSN, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires documentation that you are eligible to work in the U.S.. The SSA must also verify your immigration documents and status in SEVIS before issuing the SSN.

Note: New students may not apply for an SSN earlier than 10 business days after completing their online check-in through the International Portal. The Social Security number itself is not a work permit.

The documentation required by SSA includes:

  • Letter of employment detailing your job title and duties, start date, weekly hours, and supervisor contact information
  • Form DS-2019 showing authorized employment
  • Valid passport copy
  • Copy of your J-1 visa
  • Most recent I-94 record
  • Form SS-5

The Social Security Administration (SSA) office nearest the Mines is located at:

  • Address:
    • 13151 W. Alameda Pkwy.
      Lakewood, CO, 80228
  • Telephone:
    • 1-866-563-9469 (Lakewood)
    • 1-800-772-1213 (National)
  • Hours:
    • Monday: 9:00a – 4:00p
    • Tuesday: 9:00a – 4:00p
    • Wednesday: 9:00a-12:00p
    • Thursday: 9:00a – 4:00p
    • Friday: 9:00a – 4:00p
    • Saturday & Sunday: Closed

You are encouraged to arrive early to avoid long delays while waiting for a representative to assist you.

Helpful Resources

Social Security Required Documents (select “Non-citizen”)
Applications for a Social Security Card


Frequently Asked Questions

What does it cost?

There is no charge for a Social Security number and card.

How long does it take to get a Social Security number?

The SSA will physically mail your SSN card as soon as all of your immigration information has been verified. It can take 2-4 weeks or more. You can request a “receipt” to indicate you have applied at the end of your appointment. This will help your Human Resources (HR) team to on-board you quicker.

What if my card is lost or stolen?

You can replace your card for free if it is lost or stolen. However, you are limited to three replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime. Legal name changes and other exceptions do not count toward these limits. Information for how to replace an SSN is available on the SSA website.

What if my immigration status or citizenship changes?

If your immigration status changes or you become a legal permanent resident (LPR), you should inform the SSA office so that your records can be updated. You will need to present documents that prove your new status.

Are my earnings taxable for Social Security purposes?

Please review the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website for information about taxation as a non-resident international citizen.

Can I start working before I receive a Social Security card?

Yes, you can start to work on-campus as long as you are enrolled full-time or are on an annual vacation (Summer, Winter) and have received proper on-campus work authorization, or off-campus with authorization from ISSS (AT). You should work with the Human Resources (HR) MAPS team to ensure you have completed everything necessary for on-boarding first.

Filing Taxes

As a non-resident J-1 student, you will need to file tax forms each year with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. government agency that collects taxes, even if you earned no income. It is your individual responsibility to research, understand and meet your U.S. tax obligations. Tax returns are due every April 15th for earnings from the previous year, though there are exceptions to this deadline.

While employers do deduct money from your paycheck throughout the year and send it to the IRS, it may not equal the exact amount owed at the end of the year. If too much was deducted, you may be eligible for a refund. If not enough was deducted, you may owe the IRS money. Salary from a job is not the only kind of earning taxed; many types of other income are taxable.

U.S. tax laws can be complex and confusing and the laws that apply to international students and visitors are not the same as those that apply to U.S. citizens. The resources below are meant as guidelines but are not complete. We in ISSS are not tax professionals and this is not legal tax advice. You are advised to review the information from the IRS specifically addressed to foreign students and scholars and use a reputable tax preparation resource for assistance, if desired.


HOW TO FILE

Please review the IRS website for resources available for international scholars. You are able to download forms from the IRS Website and file by mail. Additionally, tax professionals and certified tax accountants who charge for their services can assist you with your taxes.


BEFORE YOU FILE: DOCUMENTS TO SAVE

Before you begin the filing process, be sure you have all the necessary documentation available. All documents from employers and other entities issuing tax documentation must do so by January 31. Documents you may receive include:

  • Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement: W-2 forms are mailed to current and former employees. This form shows how much you earned last year and how much was taken out for taxes. You will only receive this form if you have been employed and paid.
  • Form 1099-MISC: The 1099 form documents miscellaneous income. For example, if you had incidental employment authorization to work as an independent contractor, rather than as an employee of an organization, you might receive Form 1099 instead of Form W-2 to document your earnings.
  • Passport
  • DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility
  • Social Security Number or Individual Tax Identification Number
  • Address information (current U.S. address and home country address)
  • I-94 Travel History
  • Academic institution or host sponsor information (name, address, phone)
  • Scholarship/fellowship grant letter
  • A copy of last year’s federal income tax return, if filed

You may or may not receive all forms listed above. If you are uncertain if you should have a specific form and you have not yet received it, please reach out to your employer’s Human Resources (HR) to verify.


WHICH FORM(S) TO USE

Your individual situation determines which form(s) to file. All IRS forms come with instructions available on the IRS website. If you received no U.S. source income in 2014 and you are a non-resident alien for tax purposes, you must file Form 8843.

If you received wages or taxable scholarships from U.S. sources and you are a non-resident alien for tax purposes, you must file Form 8843 and a 1040-NR-EZ or 1040-NR by April 15, 2015. Form 1040-NR-EZ is shorter and limited to specific situations, while the Form 1040-NR accommodates all types of income. You must determine whether Form 1040-NR-EZ or 1040-NR better fits your tax situation. You can use the 1040-NR-EZ if all the following conditions are met:

  • You do not claim any dependents.
  • You cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s U.S. tax return.
  • If you were married, you do not claim an exemption for your spouse.
  • Your taxable income is less than $100,000.
  • You are not claiming any itemized deductions (other than for state and local income taxes).
  • Your only U.S. source income is from wages, salaries, tips, taxable refunds of state and local income taxes, and scholarship or fellowship grants. (If you had taxable interest or dividend income, you must use Form 1040-NR instead of 1040-NR-EZ.)
  • The only adjustments to income you can claim are the exclusion for scholarship and fellowship grants or the student loan interest deduction.
  • You are not claiming any credits.
  • The only taxes you owe are the income tax from the Tax Table and/or unreported Social Security and Medicare tax from Forms 4137 or 8919.
  • You are not claiming a credit for excess Social Security and tier 1 RRTA tax withheld.
  • This is not an “expatriation return.” See instructions for Form 1040-NR for more information.
  • If you do not meet all of the above conditions, you must file Form 1040-NR.

If you are considered a resident for tax purposes, you will be taxed like a U.S. citizen and will file a Form 1040-EZ or Form 1040 instead of the 1040-NR.


IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS

FILING TIPS

  • Make photocopies of all submitted documents for your records.
  • Be careful to complete the correct form.
  • Sign and date all forms, and be sure to mail them before the filing deadline.
  • Start the process using Sprintax for all students or scholars who are non-residents for tax purposes.

TAX TREATIES

The U.S. has income tax treaties with many different countries. Residents of these countries may be taxed at a reduced rate or be exempt from U.S. income tax withholding on specific kinds of U.S.-source income. Treaties vary among countries. If the treaty does not cover a particular kind of income, or if there is no treaty between your country and the U.S., you must pay tax on the income in the same way and at the same rates shown in the instructions for Form 1040NR.

TAXABLE INCOME

Some kinds of income are taxed while others are not. For students and scholars who are considered non-residents for tax purposes, interest income is not taxed if it comes from a U.S. bank, a U.S. savings and loan institution, a U.S. credit union, or a U.S. insurance company. Generally income from foreign sources is not taxed. Wages that appear on form W-2 are taxable. Scholarship or fellowship income that requires services (i.e. teaching assistant) will be treated as wages (like employment). Scholarships, fellowships, and grants may be partially taxed. For degree-seeking students, portions used for tuition, fees, books, supplies, and required equipment are not taxed; portions used for other expenses, like room, board, and travel, are taxable.

SOCIAL SECURITY, FICA AND MEDICARE

Non-resident scholars on J-1 visas, who are also considered non-residents for tax purposes, should not have Social Security or Medicare taxes withheld from pay. If these taxes have been withheld, contact your employer for reimbursement. If you cannot get a refund from your employer, use Form 843 Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement to request a refund from the IRS.

RESIDENT FOR TAX PURPOSES

If you have determined, based on the substantial presence test or marriage to a U.S. citizen or resident alien, that you are considered a resident for tax purposes, then you will generally have the same federal income tax requirements as a U.S. citizen. Please note that in this context, the term “resident” applies only to your tax requirements and is not related to your immigration status or tuition. See Publication 17: Your Federal Income Tax Guide.

INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER

If you are filing a tax return and are not eligible to apply for a Social Security number, you may obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). A Social Security number or ITIN is necessary only if you are filing a tax return. If you earned no U.S.-source income and are only submitting Form 8843, you do not need to apply for the Social Security number or ITIN.

IDENTITY THEFT

Please be careful of fraudulent scams and internet “phishing” that use the IRS name or other tax-related references to gain access to your personal information in order to commit identity theft. The IRS will send you physically mailed documents. The IRS does not send unsolicited emails or request personal information by email. It also does not request PIN numbers, passwords, or similar private access information to individuals’ credit cards, banks or other financial accounts. You can learn more about scams on the IRS website and report phishing scams to the IRS. If you feel you have been contacted by an individual who may be scamming, please come to the ISSS for assistance.

Identity Protection and Scams

With the increased use of technology, there are many new types of phishing attempts and scams that are being developed in the world. If you suspect that someone is trying to scam you for money, you are encouraged to report this to the Colorado School of Mines Police Department and the International Office.

Please note, no governmental agency will ever call you. Rarely will a government agency email you unless you have provided explicit authorization to receive information from the U.S. government via electronic sources (email or text). For most communications from the U.S. government, you will receive a written communication mailed to the U.S. mailing address on your J-1 SEVIS record.

Many scammers may have accurate or slightly out-dated information about you to include your full name, phone number, email address, school name, major, home address, and country of origin. This information can easily be found online depending on how many social media platforms or other electronic subscriptions you have. If a scammer is providing this information to you, this does not legitimize that they are being honest.

Some common scams are listed below:

Rental Scams

While there are many legitimate landlords and rental companies in the United States, there are imposters who try to pose as rental agencies and landlords in order to get money out of individuals planning to come to the United States. Often, they will require a wire transfer or money up front with promises to mail the keys and other pertinent information after the money has been received. It is important to be aware of such scams and notice irregularities in communications and the process of applying for an apartment. Learn more about common housing scams and how to avoid them.

IRS and Identity Theft

Please be careful of fraudulent scams and internet “phishing” that use the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) name or other tax-related references to gain access to your personal information in order to commit identity theft. The IRS will send you physically mailed documents. The IRS does not send unsolicited emails or request personal information by email. It also does not request PIN numbers, passwords, or similar private access information to individuals’ credit cards, banks or other financial accounts. You can learn more about scams on the IRS website and report phishing scams to the IRS. Additionally the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides a blog about consumer scams and imposter scams.

The IRS has this helpful video to identify imposter scams:

SSN & SSA

Some scammers will call and leave voicemails indicating that your SSN has been compromised and that, in order to rectify the situation, you will need to pay money. Others will indicate that you are being deported or entered into deportation proceedings. Still others will indicate that you have committed a crime that affects your SSN. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will never call you. They will update your SSA Portal with information or mail you a physical letter if something is needed for your SSN and status. Learn more about scams on the SSA website and from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

Ransomware

Occasionally, you may receive an email from an unknown sender with an attachment, or from a known sender with an attachment and no email body or subject-line. If an email looks strange, you do not recognize the sender, or the speech/writing patterns of a known sender are different from usual, do not open any attachment from the email. Some scammers send email attachments that, when opened, download ransomware into your computer. Ransomware locks your computer and threatens to destroy all information until or unless the demanded ransom is paid. The best way to avoid this scenario is to report suspicious emails as “Spam” and separately contact a known sender to verify whether or not they sent you the email. Mines ITS provides more information about phishing and reporting scams on their website.

U.S. Embassy

The U.S. embassy will never contact you via phone. You will receive an email from the U.S. embassy at most. More often, they will contact you in writing via mail. Please review the U.S. embassy website for your home country, as well as the U.S. Department of State website for additional information about reporting scammers posing as U.S. embassy officials.

Golden Police

If you receive a call from an individual indicating they are with the Golden Police Department, ask for credential information. Write down the individual’s name and badge number to verify the person truly is an officer with GPD. GPD will never call you to threaten to arrest you or fine you. You will receive communication with GPD via regular mail or, if they need to get in contact with you, they will often contact the School of Mines to assist in locating you.

ICE & USCIS

Some scammers pose as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and threaten to deport you or arrive to your home, place of work, school or other location to apprehend you. U.S. DHS ICE will never call you. Review the USCIS Scam information online to protect yourself.

Top Tips for Avoiding Scams

  • Ask for credentials (badge ID, employee number, first and last name) of anyone posing as a government official
  • Take notes during the call and ask questions – scammers often have a set script and are not prepared for improvisation when you want details of what they’re claiming you did
  • Avoid any contact where they are asking for payments in gift cards, personal check or via Western Union – do not pay! Contact Mines Police and file a report.
  • Be leery of opportunities that seem “too good to be true” – they usually are! Do your research prior to committing to anything involving money.
  • Do not open email attachments from unknown senders.
  • Be cognizant of poor grammar, incorrect sentence structures and email attachments when you know the sender.
  • Notice if the information they provide you about yourself is partially correct or incorrect – they usually have outdated information available, but enough to make them seem legitimate.
  • If you feel like something is not right, it probably is not right. Contact the Mines Police Department and the International Office for guidance.
Colorado Driver's License and Vehicle Information

International exchange visitors are eligible to apply for a Colorado State I.D. or Colorado State Driving License. You may drive legally in Colorado for up to 30 days if you have a current International Driver’s License (issued for one year only) and your home country driver’s license in your possession while you drive. The Department of Transportation advises obtaining a Colorado driver’s license if you will stay here longer than 30 days. See the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles site for more information.


Application Process

To obtain a Colorado license, you must go to the Drivers License Office. The nearest office is:

Golden Driver’s License Office
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
16950 W. Colfax Avenue
Suite #104
Golden, CO 80401

You will need the following documents:

  • Your valid, unexpired passport with J-1 or J-2 visa
  • Most recent I-94, and
  • DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility

You may be required to take a written examination concerning driving laws and practices. In addition to the test, you may be required to take a “road test.” If so, you will be asked to drive your own car while accompanied by a driver’s license examiner. (You must furnish your own car for the test.)  Road tests are given on an appointment basis. You can schedule both of these exams through the Colorado Driver’s License Office website.

Before going to take the driver’s license examination, you should study the booklet, Driver’s License Manual, which is available at the Department of Revenue. The booklet contains all the information needed to pass the written part of the test and is available free of charge.

It is vital to learn and follow traffic regulations. Regulations concerning driving speed, turning, and parking are used to control automobile (and bicycle) traffic in the U.S. These regulations are strictly enforced by the police. Violations of traffic regulations are punished by fines, jail sentences, and/or loss of driving privileges. Cars parked in violation of regulations may be towed away, and the owner required to pay a fine, towing costs, and storage costs.


Colorado’s Safety-Belt Law

Colorado law requires the use of seat-belts by the driver and front-seat occupants of any vehicle from 1968 or newer.

Children must be belted properly into booster seats — or other appropriate child car seats — until they reach the age of 8 years old. Parents searching for an appropriate child safety seat to meet the requirements in Colorado need to make sure the car seat matches the child’s weight, height and age:

  • Birth to 1 year old and less than 20 lbs: Rear-facing seat, in the back seat only(no exceptions). While this is the law in Colorado, most experts recommend keeping your child in a rear-facing seat until 2 years old.
  • You should never place a rear-facing child seat in the front seat of a vehicle with an active airbag; this includes single-cab pickup trucks.
  • 1 through 3 years old and at least 20 lbs: Forward-facing seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
  • Your child should remain in the forward-facing seat only until they reach the upper weight limit set by the car seat manufacturer.
  • 4 through 7 years old: Booster seat.
  • Beginning at 8 years old: Standard vehicle safety belt.

While Colorado law allows children to use a standard seat belt at 8 years old, it is recommended that you wait until your child is at least 4 ft 9 inches before transitioning to a seat belt, so as to avoid injury in case of an accident.

All child passenger safety violations are enforced as primary traffic safety laws. In other words, an officer could pull you over just for breaking a child-safety law. Failure to use seat belts can result in a fine and court costs.


Buying a Car

You may consider purchasing a vehicle for use during your time in the United States. There are many options for vehicle purchasing to include dealerships, used car lots, online listservs, and friends or acquaintances. It is recommended to have a friend or colleague come with you to help through the buying process. Do research online about the vehicle you are considering purchasing, to include reviewing safety issues, recalls, common pricing standards, and general reliability.

Remember that when you buy a car the “certificate of ownership” or “certificate of title” must be transferred to you from the previous owner.


Automobile Registration

If you buy a car, you must register it and obtain license plates for it. Additionally, the vehicle must pass emissions testing.  Requirements for registering a car vary depending on whether the car is new or used and, if it is used, how old it is. To find out what you would have to do to register a particular car, visit the Division of Motor Vehicles or call them at 303-205-5600.

If you sell a car, you must also do certain paperwork through the Division of Motor Vehicles.


Automobile Insurance

It is essential to have at least liability insurance if you have a car. You are required to have documentary proof of insurance in your car. Failure to do so can result in fines and in temporary loss of your license plates, automobile registration, and even your car. There are several types of automobile insurance:

  • Liability insurance is the most basic type.
    • This type of insurance protects you if your car kills or injures someone else, or damages someone else’s property. You are considered legally liable if a car you own (whether you or someone else is driving it) causes injury or death to another person or damage to someone else’s property, unless the accident is clearly not the fault of the person driving your car. If you are legally liable for injuries, death, or damages resulting from an automobile accident, you could face payments of tens of thousands of dollars.
    • If you do not have liability insurance to help pay those costs, you will have to pay them yourself. This is why you will want to have liability insurance, even if your car itself is not very valuable.
  • Collision insurance protects your car in case of collision with another car.
  • Comprehensive insurance covers losses caused by storms, thieves, and vandals.

Buying Auto Insurance

In the yellow pages of the telephone directory you will find a long list of insurance agents under the heading “Insurance.” Unless a friend can recommend a reliable agent to you, you should talk to at least two agents about your insurance needs. The amount of insurance you buy for your car should depend on its value. Insurance rates vary from company to company, and they depend also on the value of the car, the amount it is driven, the age of the drivers, and the past driving records of the drivers.


In Case of an Accident

  • Call the police if there is any substantial damage to any car or other property.
  • Do not move any car that was involved in an accident until the authorities arrive.
  • Obtain identifying and insurance information from all drivers involved, and furnish your own to other drivers.
  • If involved in a multiple-vehicle crash, remain inside of your vehicle until police arrive, especially in inclement weather.

In Case Your Vehicle Breaks Down on the Roadway

  • Stay calm.
  • Park your vehicle as far off the traveled portion of the highway as possible.
  • Make your vehicle visible. Turn on the four-way emergency flashers.
  • Exit the vehicle from the passenger’s side, away from traffic.
  • Open the vehicle’s hood and leave it open.
  • Put reflecting triangles behind your vehicle to alert other drivers; use your emergency flashers. If it is dark, turn on the interior dome light.
  • Use your cell phone to call for help.
  • If someone stops to help, keep your doors locked. Open the window slightly and ask the person to call law enforcement for help.
  • It is inadvisable to walk on an interstate, especially during inclement weather. However, if you can reach a source of help on foot, without jeopardizing your physical or personal safety, try the direct approach by walking. Keep as far from traffic as possible and walk on the right side of the roadway. Never attempt to cross a multi-lane, high speed roadway.

Driving in Winter

Winter often brings dangerous driving conditions to the Golden area. Check weather alerts before taking car trips if inclement weather hits. If you plan to operate a car during the winter, there are some things you should remember:

  • Get your car “winterized”
    • This means putting on “snow tires” (that have a heavier tread than regular tires), or at least making sure your tires are not worn out or “bald”
    • Put anti-freeze into your radiator, unless your car’s engine is air-cooled
    • Change to a lighter weight oil
    • Ensure your brakes, windshield wipers, turn signals, and headlights are in good operating condition.
    • Add winter windshield fluid with anti-freezing chemicals.
    • Be sure you have an ice scraper and a snow brush in your car.
    • The American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends having a “winter driving kit” that includes tire chains, a small snow shovel, extra clothing, traction mats, booster cables, warning devices (flares or triangles), a small bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, or kitty litter), a flashlight, some cloth or a roll of paper towels, and a blanket.
  • Drive carefully
    • There are times in the Denver area (radio and television reports will tell you when they are) when roads are so slippery and/or visibility is so limited that automobile driving should be undertaken only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive under these adverse conditions, you should remember several safety rules:
      • Before starting off, remove snow and ice from all windows and remove snow from the entire car so blowing snow does not obstruct your vision once you begin driving.
      • Start slowly
      • Do not follow other cars closely.
      • Drive slowly
      • To stop, pump your brakes, rather than pressing steadily on the brake pedal.  If your car starts to spin, turn your wheel in the same direction of the spin. (i.e. if the back of your vehicle begins to slide to the right, turn the wheel to the right)
      • Watch other cars very carefully
      • Be very careful to obey all traffic regulations
Change of Status

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A STATUS AND A VISA?

visa is a physical stamp issued by the U.S. embassy abroad and placed in your passport. This stamp allows you to ask for admission to the United States at a port-of-entry. Visas can only be obtained by visiting a U.S. consulate abroad; it is not possible to get a visa from within the U.S. Visas are required for entry to the U.S. and can expire while you are in the U.S. as long as you have a valid, unexpired passport and valid, unexpired I-20 or DS-2019.

status refers to the legal classification under which you were admitted to the United States. A status can be changed within the U.S. through an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Note: changing your status within the United States will not provide you a new visa stamp in your passport. If you travel out of the United States after successfully changing status, you will be required to apply for the corresponding visa prior to returning to the U.S.

It is possible change both status and visa by traveling outside the U.S. and applying for a new visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.  Once you enter the U.S. using the new visa and status, you are automatically considered to be in that new status.

Prior to changing status, it is encouraged that you meet with an ISSS advisor to discuss your specific visa options. Changes to status can have impacts on visa benefits, eligibility to study and eligibility for practical training authorization.


HOW CAN I CHANGE STATUS?

There are two ways to change non-immigrant status:

  • Travel outside the U.S. for a visa application at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, or
  • Stay in the U.S. and request a change of status by application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  CHANGE OF STATUS THROUGH TRAVEL CHANGE OF STATUS THROUGH USCIS
Processing
Time

Traveling requires visiting a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad to obtain the new visa stamp. The amount of time needed to change status by travel varies by country, but this option is generally quicker than changing status in the U.S.  However, visa applications may be subject to additional administrative processing which can significantly delay the process.

If approved for the new visa, the earliest you can enter the US is 30 days before the program start date listed on your DS-2019 or I-20.

The amount of time needed for processing a change of status through USCIS can vary between three to five months, if not longer. If considering this option, read through all information on the USCIS website in order to successfully compile an application to change to another non-immigrant status. If planning to change to an immigrant/resident status, please consult with an ISSS advisor.

This process does not give you a new visa stamp. The next time you travel outside the U.S. you will need to visit a U.S. consulate or embassy to request a new visa stamp that reflects your changed status.

Other Concerns It is recommended that you apply for your new visa in your home country as opposed to a “third country” (e.g. Canada or Mexico) unless you are a legal resident of the third countries. If you apply for a visa in a third country and are denied, you must return to your home country to apply for a visa there.  You will not be able return to the U.S. in your previous status.

Individuals who are subject to the J-1 Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement 212(e) are not eligible for change of status within the U.S. unless they have obtained a waiver of the requirement.

Individuals in B-1/B-2 status may find it extremely difficult to change status within the U.S. due to having indicated touristic or business purposes when applying to enter as a B-1/B-2 visitor.   Individuals who entered using the Visa Waver Program [WB/WT] are not eligible to change status within the U.S.

If you are changing from H-1B or another employment-based status to F-1, your H-1B employment must be active as of the date USCIS receives your F-1 application.  You must maintain your prior status until 30 days prior to your F-1 or J-1 program start date. If classes start and your change of status is still pending, you may attend coursework full-time. If the change of status is denied, you must depart immediately; you will have no grace period.

You should not travel outside of the U.S. while a change of status application is pending. If you depart the United States, this is viewed as abandoning the petition and processing will stop.


CAN I BEGIN A NEW DEGREE PROGRAM WHILE MY CHANGE OF STATUS IS PENDING WITH USCIS?  CAN I APPLY FOR WORK AUTHORIZATION?

If my status is changing from… Can I begin a degree program? Can I get work authorization?
F-2 dependent to F-1 student No No
J-1 scholar to F-1 student Possibly, please consult with ISSS. Only for your J-1 sponsor as stated on the DS-2019
J-1 student to F-1 student Yes Only with authorization from J-1 sponsor
J-2 student to F-1 student Yes Only with EAD J-2 work authorization
H-1B to F-1 student Yes, if otherwise maintaining both statuses while the application is pending. No, only after the F-1 is approved.
H-4 to F-1 student Yes No
B-1/B-2 to F-1 student No No
WB/WT (Visa Waiver Program) No, you are not eligible for a change of status within the United States through USCIS. No
Out of Status/Status Pending/Other Please consult with ISSS Please consult with ISSS

 

Change of status petitioners cannot work if work authorization connected to the original/prior status expires prior to USCIS approval of the change of status OR if their new status has not been approved by USCIS yet.


WHEN DO I NEED TO APPLY TO THE USCIS TO CHANGE TO STATUS?

  • You are eligible to change status as long as your current status is valid at the time of application.  If possible, ISSS recommends submitting your application at least 90 days before the expiration of your current status.
    • Petitions to change status have been denied in the past because the prior immigration status ended before the approval of the new status, even when the application was filed in a timely manner.
  • If you believe you are already out of status, please see an ISSS advisor before submitting your application to USCIS.

HOW DO I GET MY I-20 OR DS-2019 IF I AM A CURRENT STUDENT WHO WANTS TO CHANGE TO F-1 OR J-1 STATUS?

  • Make an appointment with an ISSS advisor
  • Bring in Evidence of Financial Support indicating you have sufficient funding for at least the first year of your academic program (F-1 visa only) or the entire program (J-1 visa only) (i.e., bank statement, assistantship offer letter, etc.)

WHAT DOCUMENTATION DO I NEED TO SHOW TO ISSS AND SUBMIT TO USCIS IN ORDER TO CHANGE STATUS?

Everyone must submit:
  • Filing fee: $370 (make personal check or money order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”)
  • Form I-539
  • Photocopies of all documents (ex. I-20s,  DS-2019s, H-1B Approval Notice, etc.) you hold in your current status
  • A photocopy of your current visa
  • A photocopy of your Form I-94
  • A photocopy of your passport personal data page(s) (i.e., the page(s) with your photograph and the expiration date of your passport)
  • Evidence of sufficient financial support (i.e., bank statement, assistantship offer letter, etc.)
  • Waiver approval letter – if you were ever J-1/J-2 subject to the 212(e) who applied for and received an approved waiver
If applying to change status to F-1 student or J-1 student/scholar, please ALSO submit:
  • A photocopy of your new I-20 or DS-2019, signed by you on page 1
  • SEVIS I-901 Fee Receipt showing payment of SEVIS fee
  • If changing from H-1B status, a letter of support from H-1B employer
  • If currently a dependent of a spouse/parent, photocopies of your spouse/parent’s immigration documents:  I-94, passport pages (photograph and the expiration date of passport), visa, proof of status (such as the I-20, DS-2019, H-1B Approval Notice)
If applying to become an F-2 or J-2 dependent of a spouse or parent, please ALSO submit:
  • A photocopy of your new dependent I-20 or DS-2019, signed by your spouse or parent on page 1
  • Photocopies of your spouse/parent’s immigration documents:  I-94, passport pages (photograph and the expiration date of passport), visa, proof of status (such as the I-20, DS-2019, H-1B Approval Notice)
  • A copy of your marriage certificate, along with a certified English translation if it is in another language (This is NOT necessary if your spouse’s name is on your visa.)
  • Certificate of Enrollment from the Mines Registrar, (or the registrar at the university your spouse is attending) if your F-1/J1 spouse or parent is a student to verify that your spouse/parent has been enrolled full-time, and a copy of the most recent transcript.  If you were previously a student, please also obtain a Certificate of Enrollment and transcript verifying your prior student status as well.
    • If your J-1 spouse/parent is a visiting scholar, have the department write a letter saying he/she is employed there in good standing.

SAMPLE LETTER FOR THOSE ON AN H-1B OR OTHER EMPLOYMENT-BASED NON-IMMIGRANT VISA:

The employer may use the template below if needed. This information should be on company letterhead and include the full address, telephone number, and email as well as name, title and direct contact information of the person writing and signing the letter.

To Whom It May Concern:
This letter is to certify (employee’s name) is currently employed by (name of business) as (job title).  (Employee’s name) has informed us that she/he will be terminating her/his employment with us in (month/year) to pursue classes at (name of institution) as a full-time student.(Employee’s name) is currently holding the H-1B visa.  Once (employee’s name) receives her/his F-1 approval, we will terminate the employment as of the date F-1 status becomes effective or within 30 days before the start date on the I-20, whichever comes first.


WHERE DO I SEND MY APPLICATION?

Please review the “Where to File” section of the USCIS website. It is recommended to send your application via traceable mail (i.e. FedEx, UPS, etc.) so you know when it is delivered.


WHAT HAPPENS WHEN USCIS RECEIVES MY APPLICATION?

If your application is complete, you will receive a Form I-797, Notice of Receipt within seven to ten business days.  Your I-797, Notice of Receipt is very important as evidence that you filed your application. This document will provide your “receipt number” which you may use to track your application’s progress.  If you do not receive an I-797, Notice of Receipt within four weeks, please notify ISSS.

If your application is incomplete, USCIS may either reject it and return it to you, or send you an “Request for Evidence.”  Either of these letters will be detailed with the additional information required for submission to complete your application.


WHAT HAPPENS IF USCIS APPROVES MY APPLICATION?

USCIS will send you an I-797, Notice of Approval indicating approval of your change of status application. This document is your new legal status evidence and should have a new I-94 printed in the lower right-hand corner. It is encouraged to make copies of this document for your records and maintain it with your passport and other immigration documents in a safe place.


WHAT IF I APPLY TO USCIS FOR A CHANGE OF STATUS, BUT LATER DECIDE TO DEPART THE COUNTRY AND APPLY ABROAD?

Please contact the USCIS Service Center to withdraw your application.  Please keep your I-797, Notice of Receipt as documentation of the original application, and be prepared to show it to the consular officer if you apply for another U.S. visa in the future.

 

YOU SHOULD KEEP DOCUMENTATION AND COPIES OF ALL THINGS RELATED TO YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS THROUGHOUT YOUR TIME IN THE UNITED STATES AND BEYOND. THESE WILL BE NECESSARY FOR FUTURE U.S. VISA APPLICATIONS, TO INCLUDE H-1B AND PERMANENT RESIDENCY.

Program Completion

When your are nearing your program end date as listed on your DS-2019, it is advisable to review your immigration documentation and ensure that you have completed all tasks related to your research at Mines. Meet with your PI to determine if you have any additional research tasks to complete and whether or not you need an extension. 

If you will finish your research program on time, there is nothing you need to provide to the iSSS. After your DS-2019 end date has passed, your J-1 immigration status will become “Inactive.” At that time, ISSS will no longer be able to make changes to your SEVIS record. 

After your DS-2019 end date passes, you will enter your 30-day grace period. The grace period is solely for the purposes of tourism – you may not continue your research into the grace period time. This time is intended to allow you to pack up your affairs, visit other places within the United States, and depart the country. If you depart the U.S. prior to the end of the 30 days, your J-1 status and grace period will be complete and you will not be able to re-enter using your J-1 visa or DS-2019. 

ISSS will keep records of your immigration status for five years following the completion of your program. 

Withdrawal from Program

From time to time, life circumstances occur that require an exchange visitor to end their program early through withdrawal. In the event that you need to withdraw from your J-1 research program at Mines, you are encouraged to schedule an appointment with your ISSS advisor to review your status and itinerary to return home. 

Your ISSS advisor will discuss the various options available to you upon completion of your program, any regulatory bars or effects of the 212(e) Home Residency Requirement which may impact you in the future. They will also answer any questions you have about your visa status and provide a clear explanation of how your J-1 status will be managed in SEVIS for your immigration record. 

Transfer to Another J-1 Program

In certain circumstances, J-1 exchange visitors are able to transfer their J-1 visa program from Mines to another institution to continue research or train on projects closely related to their original program at Mines. If you have a received an alternative opportunity for research that aligns with the original program objective initiated at Mines, you are encouraged to come speak with your ISSS advisor to discuss options. 

If you would like to request your J-1 status be transferred to another U.S. institution, the following is required: 

  • Official letter of offer or invitation by the J-1 designated host institution or organization
    • This letter must provide a detailed description of the research and how it is related to your original Mines program
    • This letter must be on letterhead, dated and signed by the inviting institution’s PI or A/RO 
  • New institution/organization’s transfer-in form (if any)
    • If the institution or organization does not have a form, the letter above must include the program number and contact information for the international scholar advisor responsible for your SEVIS record
  • Letter of support from your Mines principal investigator (PI)/Supervisor for the transfer

Until all documents above have been received, Mines ISSS cannot transfer your record. All transfers must be requested no less than one month before the end date on your current DS-2019.

Additionally, you must have time remaining on your J-1 scholar status. The maximum duration you may be in the United States, not including grace periods, is:

  • Short-Term Scholar – Six (6) months
  • Research Scholar – Five (5) years

The information contained in this web site is provided as a service to the international students, faculty, staff, employees and administrators of the Colorado School of Mines, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax or any other matter. We aim to provide substantial and useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or sufficiency of the information contained in or linked from this web site or any external/associated site. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. Neither the Colorado School of Mines nor the Office of Global Education is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in this website, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.

CONTACT US

International Student & Scholar Services
924 16th Street
Green Center, Suite 219
Colorado School of Mines
Golden, CO 80401

Office Hours
Monday through Friday, 9:00a – 12:00p and 1:30p – 4:00p

Main Office Phone and Email
(303) 273-3210 / isss@mines.edu