J-1 students must consult with OIS prior to changing their major. The J-1 Exchange Visitor program regulations do not allow J-1 visa holders to change their program objectives. You may be required to submit additional documentation from your academic department that confirms your program objectives have not changed.
Please note: Students who change their thesis options within the same major do NOT need to submit change in curriculum paperwork. This does not constitute a change in curriculum for SEVIS purposes and as such, a student’s I-20/DS-2019 will not be updated. However, if a student does change his/her thesis options and, as a result, needs additional time to complete his/her academic program, it is the student’s responsibility to request a program extension. Similarly, if the change in thesis options shortens a student’s program and he/she completes degree requirements earlier than the semester indicated on the I-20/DS-2019, it is the student’s responsibility to learn about his/her post-completion options (e.g. Optional Practical Training, Academic Training, etc.) and to file for employment benefits in a timely manner.
Please see additional information on how to request an updated I-20/DS-2019 for each specific case:
Change of Curriculum (Level or Major)
Students should request a new I-20 (DS-2019 for J-1 students) by completing and submitting the Change in Curriculum Form to OIS in person or via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). This process may require new financial documentation and a new estimated date of completion that is agreed upon by the student and advisor (or Director of Graduate Program). For immigration purposes, the Director of Graduate Program or Academic Advisor must certify the acceptance of the student into the new program and must indicate the expected date of degree completion on this form, so OIS can accurately certify the changes in the student’s SEVIS record. Please attach the proof of funding to the Change in Curriculum Form. Students who do not arrange to have their SEVIS record updated to reflect a new curriculum, co-major, or minor may result in the student being out of status and possibly having to apply for re-instatement.
See the Policies, Regulations and Rules (PRR) on Transferring from One Curriculum or Degree Program to Another for Graduates and Intracampus Transfer Policies for Undergraduates.
More information on change of level available here.
Add an “en route” Masters
The change in curriculum paperwork asks a student to indicate when he/she will complete the degree requirements of an “en route” degree and requires a signature from the Director of Graduate Program of the “en route” degree only. In general, it will not require submission of updated financial documentation nor the issuance of a new I-20 or DS-2019. However, it may require reporting in SEVIS, especially if a student abandons the PhD program and graduate with the Masters degree, please meet an OIS advisor PRIOR to completing the Masters degree requirements.
Change program duration
If a student requires additional time to complete their academic program, they should request a Program Extension well in advance (at least 3 weeks) of the end date on their I-20 or DS-2019. The DGP/Academic Advisor should certify the reason for the delay and the expected new completion date on the Program Extension form, so OIS can accurately assess each situation and update the student’s immigration record accordingly. The reason for a program extension needs to be either of an academic nature or be out of medical necessity/extenuating circumstances. The reason can never be employment related. The student will receive a new Form I-20/DS-2019 to reflect the extension.
Please note: Program extensions are not possible if a student has filed an Reduced Course Load request during the semester OR if the program end date on the I-20/DS-2019 has already passed.