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International Students and Scholars

Comparison of F-1 (Student) and J-1 (Exchange Visitor) Visa Types

The following is a comparison of general information between use of the F-1 student and J-1 student visas. Potential visa holders should weigh the differences carefully as each one has advantages and disadvantages. For more information contact International Student Services at the University of Wyoming (

Eligibility Restrictions None Student cannot be self-funded unless in an exchange program pursuant to a formal written agreement between educational institutions or governments offices.
On-campus Employment Available to full-time students in good academic standing for up to 20 hours per week and 40 hours during annual UW holidays/vacations Available to full-time students in good academic standing for up to 20 hours per week and 40 hours during annual UW holidays/vacations
Off-campus Employment Yes; can be authorized for unforeseen financial hardship, CPT or OPT by USCIS. Yes, students can be authorized for unforeseen financial hardship or Academic Training by Responsible Officer.
Practical/Academic Training Types 1. Curricular Practical Training (CPT); 2. Optional Practical Training (OPT). Optional or Required Academic Training may take place before or after graduation.
Time Limits CPT: None, except if you use more than 12 months of full-time CPT, you lose your eligibility for any OPT. OPT: 12 months maximum. STEM majors are eligible for an additional 17 months. In general, the period of Academic Training may not exceed 18 months or the amount of time spent in the academic program, whichever is less. Part-time Academic Training is the same as Full-time Academic Training.
Requirement of Job Offer? CPT: Yes. OPT: No Pre & Post-completion Academic Training: Yes.
Authorization from USCIS? CPT: No, authorization is obtained from ISS; OPT: Yes, authorization is required before student may begin work. Authorization takes about 3 months. Authorization is obtained from ISS.
Possibility of Changing Visa Status Yes, fairly easily. Depends, may be problematic for students subject to the 2-year home residency requirement (212e).
Work Authorization for Spouses None possible. Yes, with evidence that salary will not be needed to fund stay and it requires USCIS approval first which can take several months.
Can Spouse Take Classes? Part-time only if for avocational or recreational purposes. No academic course work possible. Currently, yes.
Insurance Requirement per Visa Status? UW requires all international students to carry international student health insurance. This isn't a federal requirement nor does the UW requirement apply to spouses & dependents although it is HIGHLY recommended. Federal Requirement for all J-1 visa holders and dependents. Willful failure to comply will result in termination of program.
Permissions to Stay in U.S. after Completion. 60 days granted automatically. 30 days granted automatically.

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