Your Immigration Responsibilities

It is important that J-1 student interns maintain legal status by complying with applicable federal government regulations. By definition student interns are fulfilling requirements for an overseas degree by engaging in activities outlined on Form DS-7002 Training Plan. J-1 Student interns are not Harvard students and are not eligible for some of the Harvard student benefits such as housing, health insurance, or access to athletic facilities. J-1 student interns must confirm with their faculty sponsors on whether they may be eligible for any benefits.

Initial Registration Requirements

All new J-1 student interns must register with the HIO within 30 days of the start date on their Forms DS-2019.

Maintain Required Health Insurance

J-1 student interns and their J-2 dependents must maintain required health insurance (including basic Medical Health Insurance, Medical Evacuation and Repatriation insurance) throughout their stay in the United States.

Change of Residential Address

Immigration regulations require that all non-citizens report their residential addresses within 10 days of entry to the United States and subsequently report any changes of address within 10 days to the Immigration authorities. J-1 student interns may report their address changes in the Change of Address section of the HIO website.

Required Travel Documents

Please review the travel information page on the HIO Web site before making plans to travel abroad. A J-1 student intern should bring all required travel documents to the HIO to speak with an advisor if needed.

Clinical Care

You cannot participate in any clinical care positions or any other position that involves patient contact. Any work that would require you to provide therapy, medication, or other clinical or medical treatment is prohibited.


J-1 Student Interns may be employed and conduct their internship at the location(s) listed on their Forms DS-2019. Paid employment is permitted only if it is described on the Form DS-2019 issued to the J-1 Student Intern. Student Interns can be paid by Harvard or a Harvard affiliated hospital if that is the site of activity.

Distinction Between Internship And Employment

The sole purposes of J-1 Student Internship is to promote the educational objectives of the foreign student’s current degree program. The internship must be considered “work-based learning” rather than ordinary employment or unskilled labor.  The J-1 Student Internship cannot be used to fill a labor need or displace any American workers.   A host department cannot use a staffing agency or service to recruit J-1 Student Interns.  The internship must meet all the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Evaluation Requirements

J-1 Student Interns are required by federal immigration regulations to submit evaluations to the HIO to confirm that the program objectives are met.  Student Interns and their supervisors must complete and submit evaluations to the HIO in a timely manner.

  • For internships less than 6 months in duration, only a Final Evaluation must be submitted prior to the end of the internship. 
  • For internships lasting more than 6 months, two evaluations are required: one Midpoint Evaluation and one Final Evaluation.  The midpoint evaluation must be submitted midway through the U.S. internship period.  The final evaluation must be submitted prior to the end of the internship.


J-1 student interns may remain in the internship program in the United States for up to 12 months. If J-1 student interns wish to extend their internship program they must apply for an extension before their current Forms DS-2019 expire (see the dates on section #3 of the Form DS-2019). Extensions are not permitted beyond 12 months for J-1 student interns. For more information, see J-1 Student Intern Extensions.

Grace Period

J-1 student interns who have completed their programs at Harvard are given an additional 30-day grace period for departing the United States, applying to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change from J-1 status to another status (if they are not subject to the two-year home country residence requirement), or transferring to another J program sponsor if their J-1 category allows them more time to stay in the United States.

12 Month Bar

If your internship duration is six (6) months or more, the Department of State imposes a wait period of one year (12 months) before you are eligible to return to the U.S. in the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor Category.

212(e) Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

In some cases, the J-1 visa carries with it a two-year home residence requirement which obliges visa holders and their J-2 dependents to return to their home countries for two years before being eligible to apply for only the following visa categories: an immigrant visa or a non-immigrant H or L visa.

Restrictions on Public Assistance

Under certain U.S. federal, state, county, and local laws, J-1 visa holders and their dependents may qualify for “public assistance,” such as health insurance, subsidized housing, food assistance, or unemployment benefits. Accepting such benefits as a J-1 or J-2 visa holder can lead to inadmissibility to the United States due to reliance on “public assistance” under the Immigration and Nationality Act, this could ultimately result in denial of re-entry into the United States in the future. The J-1 visa holder is responsible for understanding that certain types of benefits could qualify for “public assistance” and knowing the risks associated with enrolling and/or receiving such benefits.

General Immigration Responsibilities

It is your responsibility to maintain your J status. The HIO is here to help you understand often complex immigration regulations and provide resources to keep you up to date with immigration regulations. In order to maintain your immigration status you must:

  • Report a new residential address to the HIO within ten days of moving to a new address
  • Maintain your health insurance as required by the Exchange Visitor Program
  • Obtain authorization from the HIO for any additional employment opportunities outside your original objective at Harvard or its affiliated hospital prior to the start date of employment
  • Apply for an extension of your status before your current DS-2019 expires
  • Depart the U.S., transfer to another J program, or change to another visa status within the 30-day grace period at the end of your J program
  • Check your I-94 record each time you enter and reenter the U.S.
  • Never accept any public benefits or assistance from the federal, state or local government such as MassHealth, free school lunches, food stamps, etc.

 We do not want anything to interfere with your purpose for coming to Harvard – whether it be studying, teaching, or doing research. Please read all emails from the HIO and contact your HIO advisor if you have any questions.

Federal regulations change frequently. Please be sure to check our website on a regular basis for the most up-to-date immigration related information.