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J-1 Exchange Students

What is an exchange student?

Exchange Students are defined as non-degree seeking students attending SDSU for 1 or 2 semesters as part of an exchange agreement between their home university and SDSU, or coming through the ISEP exchange program. All exchange students must enter the U.S. on J-1 visa status.

If you are a looking to become a J-1 Exchange Student, please find helpful information below:

If you are a current J-1 Exchange Student at SDSU, please find helpful information below:

How does the ISC help exchange students?

Exchange students have different needs, depending on your individual situation, you will work directly with either the ISC or with the Office of Global Education. ISEP Exchange Students will also need to work with ISEP directly depending on the need or request.

The ISC will always be your first contact for matters related to your J-1 visa status. Please make sure you are always following regulations to maintain your J-1 mmigration status, such as full time enrollment, and making sure you have proper work authorization if you decide to work during your program. 

Below are listed some of the most common exchange student requests that the ISC can assist you with upon your arrival to SDSU. 

*ISEP exchange students:  please note that your J-1 status and DS-2019 is sponsored by the ISEP program therefore please read the special note for ISEP students on each of the items below, as the process for you may vary. 


Your home institution may have forms such as Learning Agreements, or Arrival/Departure documents that require a signature from SDSU. If you need a signature on one of these forms please upload your form through  the J-1 Student Home University Form Submission found on our Documents and Requests for International Students site. IMPORTANT: Learning Agreements can only be signed after the add/drop schedule adjustment deadline. 


J-1 exchange students who have entered the U.S and are traveling internationally during their program must ensure they have a valid travel signature on their DS-2019 prior to re-entry to the U.S.. The travel signature is located at the bottom right corner of page 1 of the DS-2019 and it is valid for 12 months. This means you can use the same signature to travel multiple times as long as you reenter within 12 months from when your travel endorsement section was signed on your DS-2019. Please note a travel signature is not required if traveling within the U.S. Please also read the Traveling Outside The United States site to learn about the other documents required for re-entry to the U.S. 

How do I request a travel signature on my DS-2019?

To request a travel signature on your DS-2019 must submit a DS-2019 Replacement/Update Request Form and under reason for request select “Travel Signature”. The ISC will then print a new DS-2019 for you that will include a travel signature and notify you through email when it is ready for pick up. Make sure you use the most up to date DS-2019 with the travel signature when traveling internationally. IMPORTANT: Plan early if you will be traveling outside the U.S., processing times are 7 business days. 

*ISEP Exchange Students: Your DS-2019 will be collected during the first week of the semester to send to ISEP for signature. Once we receive your DS-2019 back from ISEP with a travel signature, we will notify you via email to pick up your DS-2019 at the ISC. 


As an exchange student on J-1 status you are eligible for the following employment options:

1. On campus employment:  Once you arrive on campus you will be eligible to work on campus for the duration of your SDSU program. Authorization must be given by the ISC before you can begin a campus job. Read our ON-CAMPUS EMPLOYMENT site for more details. 

2. Off campus employment through J-1 Academic Training: You are eligible to apply for a benefit called J-1 Academic Training (AT) which allows you to work or intern off campus during or shortly after your program of study in work that is related to your primary major at SDSU (the major indicated on your DS-2019). Please read the information on the Academic Training site to learn about the eligibility requirements, duration and application process. IMPORTANT: Academic Training must be approved before starting employment.

*ISEP Exchange Students: Please contact ISEP directly to ask what their on campus and J-1 Academic Training requirements are. 


Exchange students are admitted for 1 or 2 semesters. Exchange students are not allowed to participate for more than 2 semesters. Students who were admitted into only 1 semester may be eligible to extend for a second semester, however in some cases it isn't possible to extend due to impaction of the exchange balance. If you were only admitted for 1 semester and you are interested in extending please consider the following:

  1. Consult with your home university’s exchange coordinator to determine if they would allow you to extend.

  2. Consult with SDSU’s Office of Global Education at to check if there are additional spots available for students coming from your home institution. The exchange program is based on a balance between SDSU and your home institution. If the balance is impacted, it will not be possible to allow for the extension. 

  3. If both your home institution and SDSU’s Office of Global Education has approved the extension, please submit the J-1 DS-2019 Extension Request Form so that the ISC can extend your J-1 status. When submitting the form please be mindful of the following:

  • The form must be submitted at least 30 days prior to your current end date. 
  • You will need to submit an updated Exchange Financial Statement Form along with proof of funds in order for the extension to be approved. 
  • An ISC advisor will reach out to you to review details of your J-1 extension. 

*ISEP Exchange Students: Please contact ISEP directly to ask if an extension is possible.


If you need to withdraw from the exchange program before your original end date you must meet with an ISC Advisor and notify your home university of your early withdrawal plans.

Exchange Student Advising

Pre- Arrival: For exchange applications, pre-arrival questions or additional information, please contact the Exchange Coordinator in the Global Education Office at

Upon arrival to SDSU: Contact the International Student Center at for support regarding J-1 status, academic matters and personal advising. 

Friday, November 20, 2015
Sharing your knowledge about your home country encourages current SDSU students to study abroad at your home. Contact the International Student Center to learn about opportunities available for you to talk about your home country while you're here in San Diego! 
Friday, November 20, 2015
Check out the ISC Events Calendar to find activities and events designed to help international students meet new people and connect to the San Diego State campus!