J-1 Student Loses Government Funding: What to Do

If you are a J-1 student in the U.S. and you suddenly lose funding from your government, don’t panic: Loss of funding alone will not affect your J-1 visa status. However, you will need to be able to provide proof of funding from an alternative source in the amount required by your university to complete your degree program.

As a student (regardless of which type of student visa or status you have -- J-1, F-1, or M-1), you are required to prove to your school or university as well as to the U.S. consulate granting the student visa, that you have enough money to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study in the United States.

But, as a J-1 student, you are also subject to special funding-source restrictions. You must, in order to obtain J-1 status, be financed directly or indirectly by either:
• the U.S. government
• the government of your home country
• an international organization of which the United States is a member by treaty or statute, or
• any funding source other than personal or family support that accounts for a substantial amount of your living and tuition expenses
(See the Code of Federal Regulations at 22 C.F.R. § 62.23(c)(1)-(5).)

What most people don’t realize, however, is that once you enter the U.S. with one of the qualifying funding sources mentioned above, you may continue to be documented as a J-1 student even if circumstances change -- so long as you come up with some (lawful) source of funding. For example, if you are a bachelor's degree student funded by your home government and you lose your home government funding after you reach the U.S., you can be funded by family support for the remaining years of your degree program and continue in lawful J-1 student status.

Your school’s RO (Responsible Officer) or ARO (Alternate Responsible Officer) is legally obligated to report your change in funding to the U.S. government via SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). As soon as you learn about any changes in your funding source, you should make an appointment with your international student advisor. Be prepared to produce evidence of your replacement funding so that the funding change can be processed in the SEVIS system.

Please note that a change in your funding source will not affect whether or not you are subject to the 212(e) two-year foreign residence requirement, which applies to some J-1 visa holders. Receiving government funding at the time you apply for your J-1 visa or status typically makes you subject to the 212(e) two-year rule regardless of any later changes in funding source. That determination was made by the U.S. consulate when you received your initial J-1 visa and cannot be changed. (See the Immigration or Nationality Act at I.N.A. § 212(e).)

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