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J-1 exchange students

A page within International Education & Engagement

J-1 Exchange Start to Finish

The goal of the exchange experience is academic learning, intercultural exchange, and personal and professional development. International Education & Engagement (IEE) is here to help you achieve those goals! Located in the Midwest in the city of La Crosse, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL) provides exchange students with an authentic U.S. college and cultural experience in a mid-size community within the beautiful scenic Mississippi River valley region in the Upper Midwest. Students coming to UWL will have strong academic opportunities and enjoy the benefits of living in a mid-size city and college, such as personal attention and lower cost of living, but will also have easy access to the large metropolitan cities of Chicago and Minneapolis within driving distance, and many more cities in the U.S. that can be accessed from La Crosse airport.  

IEE serves not only as exchange students’ primary point of contact, but also supports them throughout their acclimation process by coordinating orientation, and cultural and social events that provide opportunities to meet other students and become familiar with campus and the local community. Additionally, exchange students have access to the full range of campus resources and are encouraged to get involved in student organizations and activities.  

So, let’s get started. Review the steps below to understand the process. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. 



To come to UWL as an exchange student, students must be currently attending one of our exchange partner universities abroad and be nominated by them. Find the current list of UWL exchange partner universities here. Students will need to contact the international office at their home institution and follow their application process.  

UWL Nomination Deadlines: 

Fall Semester and Academic Year 

March 15 

Spring Semester 

October 15 

Once students have been nominated to attend UWL, they will be contacted by UWL Admissions Office to complete the UWL application process.   

Application Process

Once students have been contacted by our admissions office, they will need to follow the instructions to complete the UWL application process by clicking on the exchange tab on this page 

We highly recommend students complete the application requirements by the priority deadline to maximize access to course options. Courses will become more limited after the priority deadline. 

 UWL Application Deadlines 


Priority Deadline 

General Deadline 

Fall Semester & Academic Year 

April 1 

June 30 

Spring Semester 

November 1 

 December 15 

Exchange Fees & Fact Sheet

More information about the process, dates, fees, and contact person can be found on our Information Fact Sheet  

Admitted Exchange Student

Once an exchange student has been admitted, they will receive this link with information regarding visa, pre-departure, arrival, orientation, housing, course registration, etc. Exchange students please disregard the scholarships, transfer credit and placement testing tabs. Admitted exchange students will also be invited to participate in various workshops to assist with post acceptance step completion. 

Get Involved on Campus

As an exchange student, there are many ways you can be involved with our office, campus activities and programing, and students organization. You will find more information on how to get involved here.

As an exchange student, you are also welcome to promote your home institution to UWL domestic students who, just like you, would like to spend a semester or academic year abroad. If you are interested in promoting your home university let us know and we will work with you.

Filing Taxes

J-1 visa holders are required to file taxes each year they are present in the U.S.. Please review the information on how to file taxes here. 

Health Insurance

Healthcare in the United States can be very expensive. All J-1 international students are required to enroll in the UWL/UW System health insurance plan for the duration of their stay at UWL. This information is shared during the admission process, but you can also find the information you need here. 

Rules and Regulations as a J-1 Visa Holder

Here you will find important information about your responsibilities and restrictions as a J-1 student. Please read this information carefully. If you have questions about your status, please do not hesitate to contact your international student & scholar advisor.

Better Content Blocks

Understanding Your Immigration Documents

As a J-1 student, you have four primary immigration documents to understand and maintain. Please make copies of these documents and keep them in a safe place, separate from the originals.


  • Issued by your country's government.  Your passport must be valid at all times while in the United States and should be valid at least six months into the future.  Please make sure you know the expiration date of your passport.  You must renew your passport at your home country's embassy or consulate at least six months prior to the expiration date.

J-1 Visa

  • Authorizes you to apply for entry into the United States.  Your J-1 visa can expire while you are in the United States as long as your DS-2019, passport, and I-94 are valid.  However, your J-1 visa must be valid each time you re-enter the US.  Visa renewal is only permitted outside of the United States.  Please be aware of the type, number of entries and expiration date listed on your visa.  If you have any questions or concerns, please notify your international student & scholar advisor immediately.

Form I-94

  • Permits entry into the United States and indicates the purpose of your admission and your permitted length of stay.  Form I-94 is an electronic stamp inside of your passport near your U.S. visa. Check your Form I-94 for the following notation: J-1 D/S. Also, check that your name on this form is written exactly as it appears in your passport and your date of birth and entry date are correct. To obtain an electronic copy of your I-94 please visit the You should print a new I-94 each time you re-enter the U.S.

Form DS-2019

  • Issued by UWL or your program sponsor. All information on your DS-2019 must be current at all times.  If any information changes, see your international student advisor within 10 days of the change. Changes may include financial support, your major, level of study, and program completion date.


Program Changes/Extensions

Program Changes:

International students who are changing from one program to another (for example ESL to undergraduate or switching programs of study) must notify their international student advisor of this change in order to receive a new DS-2019.


Students who are nearing the program end date on their immigration document, but need more time to complete their studies may apply for a program extension. J-1 students wishing to apply for a program extension must do so at least 30 days prior to the expiration date on their DS-2019.

Travel Outside of the United States

If you plan on traveling outside of the United States and re-entering on your J-1 student visa, there are several questions you should ask before you travel:

  • Is my passport expiring soon?
  • Do I have a valid visa to re-enter the United States?
  • Do I need a travel signature? If so, can I get this from UWL or do I need to send it to my DS-2019 program sponsor?
  • Am I returning to UWL after my travels?
  • Is my program end date approaching?
  • Do I need a visitor’s visa to enter the country I am traveling to?


It is your responsibility to check which countries will require a visitor’s visa to enter and obtain the proper documentation to travel to that country. A great place to find this information is the country’s (where you want to go) embassy website.

If you are planning to travel outside of the U.S., you must have either your international student advisor or program sponsor sign the 1st page of your DS-2019 before travel. This signature is valid for six months. If UWL is your program sponsor, please bring your DS-2019 to IEE at least two weeks prior to your departure date.

You should not travel outside of the U.S. if your passport is set to expire within six months. Please check with your embassy in the U.S. on how to renew your passport.

You must have a valid visa to re-enter the United States.

Address/Information Updates

If you have moved, please contact your international student advisor with the information as soon as possible. You also need to update your address in your WINGS account.

Keeping your address current with IEE is very important for staying in status. Failure to update us within 10 days of changes in address, name, or major will result in the termination of your status.

On-Campus Employment

If you plan to work on campus, you must first receive written approval from International Education & Engagement (IEE) before work begins. A separate approval must be obtained for each on-campus job. Approval length varies but may be valid for up to 12 months. Approval is automatically withdrawn if your program is transferred or terminated. If the original approval expires, you must obtain a new approval from IEE in order to continue working legally.

J-1 students must be in good academic standing in order to be approved for work and may not work more than a total of 20 hours per week on-campus while taking academic classes (this includes summer and winter session).

During scheduled university vacations (e.g. winter break and summer session) international students are allowed to work more than 20 hours per week on-campus if they are not taking classes.

International students must receive a written job offer from an on-campus department, Chartwells or the University Bookstore before beginning employment.

Students who wish to work will need a Social Security Number (SSN).

Full-Time Enrollment

As a J-1 student, you must carry a full academic course load each semester in order to maintain your immigration status:

  • Undergraduate students must carry a minimum of 12 credits per semester (fall/spring) in person to be considered full time.
  • Graduate students must carry a minimum of 9 credits per semester (fall/spring) in person to be considered full time.

Possible Exceptions to Full Time Enrollment:

There are very few exceptions for J-1 students to drop below full time and not all options are available to all students. Students who feel they cannot maintain a full course of study must meet with an international student advisor before dropping any classes. Failure to do so can affect your immigration status.

Online/Distance Education Classes:

  • Only three credits of online coursework per semester may count towards the full course of study requirement. If you only have online courses to take, you must still take classes on campus to maintain your immigration status.
  • Please see your international student & scholar advisor if you have any questions about online courses and your immigration status.
Academic Training

Academic Training (AT) is an opportunity for J-1 students to participate in certain types of study-related employment in the U.S.

If your DS-2019 is not issued by UWL's International Education & Engagement, these instructions do not apply to you (example: IREX students).

NOTE: Students in J-1 status who have applied for and been approved a waiver of the 212(e) home country physical presence requirement are not eligible to apply for an extension of the DS-2019 – including Academic Training.


  • Be primarily in the U.S. to study rather than engage in academic training.
  • Be in good academic standing at UWL.
  • The proposed employment is directly related to your major field of study at UWL (as noted under item #4 on DS-2019).
  • A job offer letter is required to apply. Students are able to work for multiple employers at the same time; however, each proposed employment opportunity requires a separate AT application.
  • A letter from the student’s academic advisor recommending AT is also required for each proposed employment opportunity.
  • Prior to starting employment, students must receive written approval from IEE (paid and unpaid).
  • Maintain J status. This includes maintaining the required health insurance for yourself and any J2 dependents.
  • Apply for extensions to their DS-2019 as necessary.
  • AT is available both during and after your program of study.
  • The student needs to have an offer of employment prior to the current end date on their DS-2019.
  • The completed Academic Training Application needs to be submitted to IEE five (5) business days prior to the program end date on the DS-2019. Approval must be received prior to the end date on your DS-2019 in order to be eligible. Plan ahead!
  • Provide financial documentation proving financial ability to remain in the U.S. after completion of their program while on AT.
  • All students on AT must report any change of address within 10 days to IEE.


  • Bachelor’s and master’s students are eligible for AT up to 18 months or the length of their time in J-1 status, whichever is shorter.
  • Exchange students are eligible for AT corresponding to the amount of time in the program. For example, a student on a four-month program (approximately one semester) can participate in AT for four months.
  • Part-time employment counts against the AT time limit the same as full-time employment.

Information coming soon!