Types of Student Visas

International students can apply for a visa in the F-1 or J-1 category.

All full-time, admitted students are eligible for the F-1 visa, as long as they are proficient in English and can show proof of funding for at least the first year of study. Most Northwestern University international students have this visa status.

However, some students may also be eligible for a J-1 student visa.

Who is eligible for a J-1 student visa?

J-1 eligible students are either part of an established exchange program OR receive at least 50% of their funding from a source other than personal or family funds.  This may come from a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship from an external source, such as Northwestern University, your home government, a corporate sponsor, etc. (Please note that funding through loans of any kind, including NU loans, are considered personal funds and do not qualify.)

These students may choose between F-1 or J-1 visa status. 

Choosing between F-1 and J-1 status

Aside from the funding differences, these visas carry restrictions that may impact your eligibility for on- and off-campus work, your spouse’s ability work/study in the U.S, and more.

J-1 eligible students can use the table below to understand the key differences between the two visas.

F-1 Visa J-1 Visa
Off-campus work restrictions The International Office may authorize up to 20 hours/week of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) while school is in session so long as other criteria is met. U.S. Immigration Service will authorize employment for up to 12 months after graduation. The International Office may authorize up to 20 hours/week of Academic Training (AT) while school is in session. The maximum permitted employment length ranges from 3 months to 3 years, depending on academic degree and program length. Employment after graduation requires a job offer.
On-campus work restrictions Both are eligible for up to 20 hours/week of on-campus work while school is in-session. (Without prior authorization from the International Office.)
Spouse work restrictions F-2 spouses cannot work or attend school full-time. The U.S. Immigration Service may authorize J-2 spouses to work. J-2 spouses can attend school full- or part-time.