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Unlawful Presence J-1 Status

Last updated on Mar 15, 2024

Unlawful Presence update : A new United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy means stricter penalties for not maintaining your J-1 status.

As of August 9, 2018, any F-1, J-1 or M-1 student or scholar visa holder that intentionally or unintentionally violates their non-immigrant status and remains in the United States will be accruing “unlawful presence”. The days in the United States after violating your status will be counted, and can mean that a J-1 student or scholar could be subject to deportation and a lengthy bar on returning to the United States. Under this new policy, the start date of the “unlawful presence” is based on the day that student stops maintaining status.

To avoid violating your immigration status, please remember to follow all regulations related to your visa status, including:

  • Always enroll full time each academic semester (for undergraduates : full time is a minimum of 12 units, for graduates : full time is a minimum of 9 units)
  • If you need to drop below full time, get authorization from the ISS office BEFORE dropping classes.
  • If you need to withdraw from all classes at CCA or take a leave of absence, get authorization BEFORE withdrawing from any classes
  • Verify that your current address in the United States is correct in Workday. It is an immigration requirement to update your local address within 10 days of moving by updating Workday.
  • Never work off campus without PRIOR approval from ISS: this includes any unauthorized freelance work, short term contract work, and sale of personal artwork
  • Never work on campus for more than 20 hours per week (during the academic semester)
  • Make sure that your DS-2019 does not expire
  • Comply with all US federal and state laws
  • For J-1 students and scholars only : carry medical insurance as required by the Department of State

Please visit our Portal Pages for more information about Maintaining J-1 status

Penalties for having days of “unlawful presence” in the United States:

  • If you accumulate 180 days of “unlawful presence”, you can be barred from entering the United States for 3 years.
  • If you accumulate 1 year of “unlawful presence”, you can be barred from entering the United States for 10 years.

Please note the “unlawful presence” timeclock begins the day a violation occurs, not the date the information is reported to ISS.

Link to USCIS Policy :

Due to the very serious nature of this new policy, if you have any questions about maintaining your J-1 status, please contact the ISS office at

For information about how the unlawful presence policy impacts F-1 students view our F-1 page