F1 vs J1 Status
A dependent can study in either status (J-1 or F-2); however, as an F-2 they cannot be a full-time student. As a J-2 dependent they are able to study full-time (12 credits per term at the undergraduate level, 9 credits at the graduate). As an F-2 dependent, study must be done in part-time status.
F-2 dependents are not able to work, whereas J-2 dependents can apply for work authorization (this takes 3–5 months to be processed and requires a fee of $410).
Unlike F-1 students, J-1 students do not have automatic authorization to work on campus. J-1 students are required to apply for work authorization from our office each semester. This is a relatively simple process.
In order to work off campus, J-1 students need to apply for Academic Training whereas F-1 students apply for Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training. There are differences in each type of work authorization, including cost, timing, and length of authorization.
Two Year Home Residency Requirement
Some students on J-1 visas may be subject to the two year home residency requirement (or 212(e), as it is referenced in the immigration regulations). This means that those who come to the U.S. in J-1 status cannot become permanent residents in the U.S., change status in the U.S., or obtain work or family-based visa status such as H, L or K until they return to their country of last permanent residence for at least two cumulative years.
Students may be subject to this requirement if their funding is from the U.S. government or the student’s home government, or if they are subject to the exchange visitor skills list. You can find more information about the two year home residency requirement.