Comparison of F-1 and J-1 Visa Types

Topic F-1 J-1
Eligibility Restrictions None Cannot be self-funded unless participating in an exchange program pursuant to a formal written agreement between educational institutions or governmental offices.
On-campus Employment Available up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and 40 hours per week during annual school holidays. Same as F-1
Off-campus Employment Yes: Can be authorized for unforeseen financial hardship, Curricular Practical Training, or Pre- and Post- Practical Training. Must have been in F-1 status 9 months to apply. Yes: Can be authorized for unforeseen financial hardship or Academic Training.
Practical/Academic Training Types Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Academic Training may (Optional or Required) may take place before or after graduation.
Time Limits
  • CPT: None although if you use more than 12 months or full-time CPT, you lose your eligibility for any OPT.
  • Optional (Pre- and Post- completion, combined): 12 months maximum. Can apply up to 60 days following program completion. Unemployment limit of 90 days during OPT, 120 days for STEM majors.
Note: In general, the period of Academic Training may not exceed 18 months or the amount of time spent in the academic program, whichever is less.
  • Non degree: 24 months maximum, including the academic program itself
  • Degree: Pre-doctoral, 18 months maximum Post-doctoral, 36 months maximum (for post-doctoral research only).
Requirement of Job Offer
  • Curricular: Yes Pre-completion
  • Optional: Recommended
  • Post-completion Optional: No
  • Pre-completion: Yes
  • Post-completion: Yes. Must have job offer within 30 days of completion of studies and you must apply before you complete your program as well.
Authorization from Department of Homeland Security
  • Curricular: Not required. Authorization is obtained from International Office advisor.
  • Pre- and Post-completion: Required before student may begin work. Authorization takes 3-4 months.
None required. Authorization is obtained from the International office advisor.
Possibility of Changing Status Yes, fairly easy.

It depends. May be problematic for students subject to the 2-year home residency requirement.

Note: Not every country or student from specific country will be subject to the 2-year home residency requirement. (Rule 212.e)

Work Authorization for Spouse None possible. Yes, with evidence that salary is not needed to fund stay, and it requires DHS approval – may take 3-4 months.
Insurance Requirement for Visa Status None per visa category. Although the University requires all students to carry insurance, this is not a federal requirement, nor does it apply to spouses. Yes, for J-1 students and all dependents. Willful failure to maintain adequate health insurance result in the student’s termination from the J-1 program, thus also terminating his/her J-1 status.
Permission to Stay in U.S. after Completion of Studies 60 days granted automatically. No work or re-entry to U.S. during this period. 30 days granted automatically. No work or re-entry to U.S. during this period.