Difference between visa J1 and F1

If you are a student and want to study in the United States, you will need as much as anyone wishing to tread American lands get the proper authorization. Studies are not part of the ESTA, so you need to apply for a visa. There are 2 particularly designed for this case: the J1 visa and F1. But what makes them different?


The J1 visa

The J1 visa is a type of visa for the United States for students, professors, researchers and trainees. It authorizes them to work on site for a period of 18 months maximum. The spouse of the holder is also allowed to travel and work as long as the income is not intended to support the primary holder of the J1.

To be eligible for the J1 visa, it is necessary to:

Like many visas, the steps are long enough to get it because you have to:


The F1 visa

The F1 visa is a type of visa for people wishing to study in the USA full-time at a university or higher institution (public or private). Once again, the steps to obtain it are tedious:


Visa J1 and F1 visa: the differences

Below is a table summarizing the differences between the J1 visa and the F1 visa.

Visa F1

J1 Visa

Source of funding

Personal or family background;
Background from external source
Mix of the two.
More than 50% of all funds must come from a scholarship or government support (FR and / or US)

Proof of financing

The student must be able to prove to the university and to the US government that he has the necessary funds for his 1st year of study

The student must be able to prove to the university and to the US government that he has the necessary funds for the duration of his studies

Employment outside the university campus

Two possibilities :

Extracurricular Practical Training (CPT) for off-campus work during studies. This work authorization is approved again each semester.

Optional Practical Training (OPS) to work off campus, usually after graduation. This is a 12-month work permit. Students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields may be authorized for an additional 17 months.

The CPT and the OPT are only available to students who have completed a full-year university registration year in the United States.

Only one possibility:

Academic Training (AT) to work off campus during or after graduation. This work authorization is valid for a maximum of 18 months or for the duration of the study program, whichever is shorter. Doctoral students may be authorized for an additional period of 18 months.

The duration of the approved TA is equal to the duration of the studies in the United States.


Dependents with F-2 status can study part-time and are not eligible for employment.

Dependents with J-2 status can study full-time and apply for a work permit.