Maintaining your Status
Required Information Updates
Students must report any changes to their biographical, financial, and academic information. Change of address, change of degree level or major, and change in funding are some examples of the information that must be recorded. Some changes can be reported at iNAU.
Information that must always be current in SEVIS Accordion Closed
Current US address (both physical and mailing).
- Moving from one Northern Arizona University residence hall/room to another
- Moving from a residence hall to an address off-campus
- Moving from one off-campus address to another
- Temporary address changes during the school year or in the summer
Changes in your US phone number
Transfer request to another US institution
Other relevant changes that must be reported directly to ISSS Accordion Closed
Home country address changes
Changes in your financial situation
Your intent to withdraw from NAU
Request to change to another degree level
Request to change to another immigration status
If you are unsure about information reporting, please contact us to ask
Returning Home Early
Students who intend to return home prior to the completion of their program must notify ISSS of the change as soon as possible, to avoid negative impacts on their immigration record. We recommend scheduling an appointment with an ISSS international advisor.
Students should carry all of their immigration documents, including Form DS-2019, when they leave Flagstaff. Travel authorization is required if traveling internationally. Students can request travel authorization by completing “Travel Signature Request” on iNAU. If Form DS-2019 is lost or damaged, students should request a new form by completing the request on iNAU.
Note: Traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands for a period of fewer than 30 days, students will be permitted under “automatic re-validation to re-enter on an expired visa, provided that it corresponds with students’ current visa status and your DS-2019 is valid with a valid travel signature.
If you are not able to finish your program by the end date listed on your DS-2019 or wish to extend your short-term program at NAU, you must request an extension of your program at iNAU at least 30 days before that end date. If you fail to request an extension prior to the program expiration date, you will be considered out of status and must apply to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for reinstatement.
You should plan to speak with your home institution, academic advisor, and ISSS prior to submitting a DS-2019 extension request to discuss your situation.
Materials needed to extend Accordion Closed
Approval by the home institution
Approval by NAU
Additional proof of finances that are required for the amount of time requested
Health insurance for the extended amount of time
If NAU is not the sponsor listed on a student’s DS-2019, students are required to contact their sponsor and request an extension if needed.
Leave of Absence
J-1 students must be enrolled full-time every required semester unless eligible for a reduced course load. If students are not eligible for a reduced course load but need a temporary gap in their studies, they may be eligible for a Leave of Absence(LOA). Common reasons for a leave of absence may include medical issues, required military service in your home country, family emergencies, or other personal issues.
International students may be absent from NAU for up to 3 semesters before admission re-application is required. It is important to remain in close contact with the ISSS office regarding the status of an LOA so your SEVIS record can be updated accordingly. In order to apply for a Leave of Absence, students need to:
- Speak with your home institution as to how your plans will impact degree completion, and to notify them of your plan to take a temporary break
- Notify the AAE (if applicable) & ISSS offices of your plan to take a break, and approximately how long. We recommend students speak with an advisor to understand all available options.
- Students should submit a copy of their departure itinerary from the United States to ISSS, and confirm departure from the United States.
Students are required to be enrolled full-time during required semesters in order to remain in lawful J-1 status.
- Undergraduate students must enroll for at least 12 in-person credits each fall and spring semester.
- Graduate students must enroll for at least 9 in-person credits each fall and spring semester.
Required semesters are fall and spring. The summer is only a required term if enrollment is required by your program or if the summer is your final term.
Summer semester is considered a “vacation” term if you are continuing your studies into the fall semester. You may enroll full-time, online, part-time, or not at all during the summer vacation term.
If summer semester is your first, final, or only term, you must be enrolled full-time. Full-time enrollment for summer is 6 in-person credits for undergraduate students and 5 in-person credits for graduate students.
Audited courses do not count toward the full-time enrollment requirements
If you withdraw from a course, it will not count toward your full-time enrollment regardless of whether the course is during the current semester or you are requesting a retroactive withdrawal and the course would have been required to meet full-time enrollment in the past. If you are considering withdrawing from NAU, contact your ISSS Advisor to discuss your intention to withdraw and any other future implications.
*Failure to enroll for the required number of credits will result in the loss of your J-1 immigration status and can result in serious immigration problems. Immigration regulations allow a few specific exceptions to the full-time enrollment rule. Please speak to an ISSS Advisor if you wish to drop below full-time. You must be approved for a drop below a full course of study PRIOR to the drop.
Online and Hybrid Courses
Hybrid courses, (also referred to as blended courses) are considered in-person courses and they do count toward the in-person enrollment requirement.
If you already meet minimum enrollment requirements for the semester, you may enroll in as many online courses as you wish, as long as they are above and beyond the minimum amount.
If you only need one course to complete your program of study, the course cannot be online or distance learning. If the only course required to complete your program of study is online or distance learning, please contact an ISSS Advisor.
Academic Reduced Course Loads
Authorization to drop below a full course of study may be available for the following reasons (IMPORTANT – do not drop below a full course of study without prior authorization).
Reduced Course Load Reasons Accordion Closed
Difficulty with the English language or reading requirements (first-year students only)
Unfamiliarity with US teaching methods (first-year students only)
Final term – when less than a full course of study will be needed to complete your program of study in the final semester.
Illness or medical reason – if a medical situation prevents you from successfully completing course requirements. Medical documentation with a specific recommendation is required from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist.
To request a reduced course load, you should submit and have approval for the reduced course load through iNAU before dropping a course or being under-enrolled. Submission of a request iNAU does not guarantee approval for a reduced course load. You will receive approval in the form of a confirmation email.
Graduate students engaged in full-time research or dissertation after they have completed all required coursework work may be eligible for permission to be enrolled in research or dissertation credits below the full-time enrollment requirement. To discuss this possibility, meet with an ISSS advisor.
J-1 Health Insurance Requirements and Exceptions
“Program participants and their dependents are required to have medical insurance coverage with the following minimum benefits [22 CFR 62.14].
- Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
- Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
- Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
- A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
For student J-1 visa holders at Northern Arizona University, this will be provided through NAU student health insurance, which is charged to all students’ LOUIE accounts each semester. Maintaining valid health insurance for the duration of your J-1 program at NAU is a Department of State requirement of all J1 visa holders.
There are few exceptions to the use of NAU student health insurance to meet this Department of State requirement:
- J-1 Exchange Students coming through the ISEP exchange organization are not required to purchase NAU student health insurance, because ISEP provides an equivalent plan.
- J-1/J-2 students who are sponsored by the US government or an international organization and are provided health insurance coverage.
To request a waiver: For both J-1 and J-2 students, arrangements for the waiver should be made by the sponsoring agency prior to arrival, during the application process.
If your request is approved, the waiver will be granted. Requests for waivers and refunds of NAU health insurance for previous semesters will not be granted.
Note: Before requesting a waiver, please keep in mind that health care in the US is extremely expensive and most medical facilities do not bill out-of-country insurance providers. Payment of the medical bill is the patient’s responsibility. The patient will need to seek reimbursement from the home country insurance provider. Health insurance is required for your financial protection and for expenses of the health care providers. The university is not responsible for medical expenses or filing claims.
Questions regarding health insurance should be directed to the NAU Campus Health Services.
Your extended family, such as parents and uncles, are not considered J-2 dependents. If they wish to visit the United States to visit a J-1 student, they should plan to enter the US as B-1/B-2, or ESTA waiver visitors.
- Information about applying for a visitor visa
- An invitation letter for family or friends issued by NAU-ISSS can be requested at iNAU
J-1 Program Completion & Grace Period
The end date on the DS-2019 is the date that students’ program in the United States ends. J-1 students are allowed a 30-day grace period before they have to leave the US, it is not intended for students to continue their program. This grace period may be used to prepare departure or to travel in the United States.
Departing the United States during the grace period ends the grace period and students will not be able to travel back to the US using their J-1 visa. If you intend to depart the US and plan to return, you will need to secure a separate visa for your re-entry to the US.