F-1 vs. J-1 Student Status

You may choose to apply for either visa category based on your intent and eligibility. If you have specific questions about choosing the proper visa category contact intadmit@northwestern.edu.

F-1 Visa Category

ELIGIBILITY

  • Student must be admitted to a program of study leading to a specific educational objective.
  • Student must be proficient in English.
  • Student must show sufficient evidence of financial support.

EMPLOYMENT

  • On-campus employment is permitted without special authorization (limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session).
  • Off-campus employment may be authorized by the International Office during the degree program. Certain eligibility requirements apply.
  • Off-campus employment may be authorized by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service during the degree program. Certain eligibility requirements apply.
  • Off-campus employment after graduation is permitted (up to 12 months) with authorization from the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service.
DEPENDENTS
  • F-2 dependents are not permitted to work.
  • F-2 dependent spouses may not attend school full-time. Part-time study must be recreational or avocational in nature.
  • F-2 dependent children may attend grades K-12 full-time.

J-1 Visa Category

ELIGIBILITY

  • Student must be admitted to a program of study leading to a specific educational objective.
  • Student must be proficient in English.
  • Student must show sufficient evidence of financial support for the full length of study.
  • Students must have a minimum $50,000 worth of health insurance coverage for self and all dependents.
  • Student must either be part of an established exchange program OR
  • Students must have a significant amount of funding come from an institutional source (e.g. government agency, university funding, or employer-based funding). PhD students receiving funding from NU are eligible to apply for the J1 visa. Loans of any kind, including NU loans, constitute personal funds and do not qualify as institutional support or university funding.

EMPLOYMENT

  • On-campus employment is permitted with prior authorization from the International Office (limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session).
  • Off-campus employment, either before and after graduation, may be authorized by the International Office for up to 18 months or for the length of your program, whichever is shorter (36 months possible for PhD graduates).
  • Individuals in J status may be subject to 212(e), the 2-year-home-residency- requirement. If subject, an individual would be required to spend 2 years in his/her home country before becoming eligible to return to the U.S. in H-1B, L, K, or Permanent Residency status. Follow this link for more information: "http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1296.html"

DEPENDENTS

  • J-2 dependents may apply for work authorization after they arrive in the U.S. Authorization involves an application to the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service. Approval can take up to three months.
  • J-2 dependents may attend school full or part-time without special authorization.