Skip to main content

F-1 or J-1: Selection of Visa Classification Eligibility

International students who want to study full-time at UC San Diego must have a valid I-94 status during the entered duration of their program. Most students apply for F-1 student status or J-1 Exchange Visitor student status.

UC San Diego will issue an I-20 form (F-1) or DS-2019 form (J-1) depending on their eligibility. While most international degree-seeking students study on the F-1 Visa, certain students, such as our University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) and Sponsored Students typically student on the J-1 Visa.

Note for Sponsored Students: A sponsored student is a student whose tuition and fees are paid directly to UC San Diego by an outside private or public agency, such as a corporation, government, educational institution or embassy. Sponsored students typically receive a DS-2019 form (J-1) depending on your eligibility. Sponsored students who wish to study on the F-1 Visa, instead of the J-1 Visa, should receive a written statement from their sponsor clearly stating they will allow the sponsored student to pursue their program while on the F-1 Visa. 

The following are additional considerations when determining the appropriate visa classification for your program of study at UC San Diego:

F-1 J-1
Program of Study
  • Bachelors
  • Masters
  • Doctorate
  • Bachelors
  • Masters
  • Doctorate
  • Non-degree (such as EAP)

Certificate of Eligibility
(used to enter U.S.)

  • Form I-20
  • Form DS-2019
Funding Eligibility
  • Personal funds
  • Family funds
  • Department funds
  • 49% or less Non-U.S. or home country government funds

50% or more of funding comes from:

  • U.S. or home country government*
  • International organization of which the U.S. is a member by treaty or statute
  • UCSD Department or employer

    *Includes funds received from an employer that is a home government federal agency
Health Insurance
  • Required for all degree-seeking UC San Diego students
  • Not required to maintain status
  • Required for all UC San Diego students
  • Required for both J-1 visitors and their dependents to maintain status
Employment Authorization
  • On-campus employment: No authorization required
  • Off-campus employment: Authorization required
  • On-campus employment: Authorization required
  • Off-campus employment: Authorization required

F-2 Spouse:

  • No employment permitted
  • Incidental study permitted

F-2 Child:

  • No employment permitted
  • K-12 study permitted

J-2 Spouse:

  • Employment permitted with authorization from USCIS
  • Incidental and full-time study permitted

J-2 Chlid:

  • No employment permitted
  • Incidental and full-time study permitted

212(e) Two-Year Home Residency Requirement

  • Not applicable to students in F-1 status

J-1 student and J-2 dependent(s) may be subject depending on the following:

  • Source of funding
  • Home country skills list
  • Medical education or training

If subject to the 212(e) home residency requirement, you are required to return to your country of nationality or last legal residence for two years upon completion of J-1 program.

Transfer to Other U.S. Institutions
  • Allowed as long as F-1 status is valid
  • Allowed as long as J-1 status is valid and to complete original objective for which student was admitted as an exchange visitor remains in the same J-1 category
Change to J-1 Visa Category (other than Student)
  • Allowed as long as F-1 status is valid
Change to other I-94 Status
  • Allowed as long as F-1 status is valid
  • Allowed as long as J-1 status is valid and student is not subject to 212(e) requirement
  • If subject to 212(e), must obtain waiver before changing to H or L nonimmigrant visa