Student Visa Options

There are generally two visa categories for studying in the United States: the F-1 student visa and the J-1 student visa. Both allow full-time study in the United States. Under the current regulations, both allow various degrees of work permission before and after graduation. Most admitted full-time international students to Harvard University are eligible for the F-1 visa. Only some students are eligible for the J-1 student visa.

Students who are eligible for both the F-1 student visa and the J-1 student visa must communicate to the admissions offices of their schools which visa they plan to use for their programs at Harvard. The following details some of the major differences between the two visas. Please click on each visa option for more detailed information:

 

F-1 Student Visa

J-1 Student Visa

Eligibility All full-time admitted students are eligible for the F-1 visa

Students are only eligible for the J-1 student visa:

  • If at least 50% of the tuition funding comes from a government agency, official scholarship or an employer (student personal loans,  do not qualify)
  • If the student's government requires that s/he use the J-1 visa based on receiving a government scholarship
  • If the student's visa is sponsored by an agency such as Fulbright, LASPAU, USAID, or AMIDEAST.
On-Campus Work

Students are eligible to work on-campus up to 20 hours/week while school is in session and full time during official school breaks, as long as the employment does not interfere with their educational program.

Students are eligible to work on-campus up to 20 hours/week while school is in session and full time during official school breaks, as long as the employment does not interfere with their educational program.

Off-Campus Work Authorization

All off-campus work must be related to your field of study, and requires authorization. Off-campus employment that is not related to the course of study is restricted.

Please see below for more information on the various F-1 work authorization options:

All off-campus work must be related to your field of study, and requires authorization. Off-campus employment that is not related to the course of study is restricted.

Please see below for more information on the J-1 work authorization options:

Dependents (Married Spouses and Children)

Accompanying dependents (spouse and children) receive the F-2 visa and are not allowed to work.

F-2 spouses are allowed to enroll in less than full course of study even if that part-time study eventually leads to a degree or certificate. F-2 children may enroll in primary or secondary school.

Accompanying dependents (spouse and children) receive the J-2 visa.

Accompanying spouses in J-2 status may apply for work permission in the United States. Be advised that it takes several months to obtain work permission after arriving in the U.S.

Accompanying dependents may enroll in a full-time course of study in the United States while in J-2 status.

Other Information

 

Depending upon the country and funding sources, a J visa holder may be subject to the two-year home residence requirement. Students who are subject to the requirement must return home for two years before being eligible to apply for an H-1, L-1 or immigrant visa.

All J-1 Students are subject to a 12-month bar before they are eligible to apply for a J-1 Research Scholar visa.

Both J-1 and J-2 visa holders are required to have comprehensive health insurance coverage in the United States.