Arbitrary wrote:Hey TakeruK,
If memory serves you mentioned you are on a J-1 status.
I hope to obtain a J status as well, and wish to follow up on krisna's question:
Would I need to prove I have adequate financial resources beyond the first year? Like most others, my financial offer covers only the first year, but it is expected to extend for the duration of the degree as long as my progress is satisfactory. I have some personal funds, but not enough to cover the tuition and living expenses for more than, say, a couple of years. Moreover, I intend to travel with a J-2 dependent. Do you think this might pose a problem when applying for a J visa?
Yes, I am on J-1 status. I entered the US with my spouse who is on J-2 status. My offer letter states "fellowship cover tuition and a stipend of $X for the first year, and similar funding for the duration of degree as long as I make satisfactory progress". My school issues a DS-2019 that is valid for 6 years (maximum length of degree without asking for special permission) and also funding support for 6 years.
If you are going to the US with a dependent then your funding support should be high enough to pay for your tuition, your living expenses, and your dependent's living expenses. Your school should list the amounts for these living expenses, and I think adding a dependent increases the living expense part of your financial requirement by something like a factor of 1.3 to 1.5. So, if you have a good offer, the stipend should be more than enough to cover the minimum living expenses required to get the DS-2019. I don't know how carefully they will check these numbers. My school didn't really care with they issue the DS-2019. Since I was from Canada, I didn't need a visa, so there was no visa officer to carefully examine my numbers. However, US Immigration did check these numbers when my spouse applied for Employment Authorization (we have to submit a letter showing that my stipend covers all necessary living expenses so that we didn't "need" the J-2 income but it "would be nice"). So unless your stipend is very low, I think you should be okay.
Finally, I was looking at some other school's websites for the DS-2019 and Texas A&M (http://iss.tamu.edu/financial/i20_ds2019financial.asp
) for example, says that if you only have 1 year of guaranteed funding, then they will only issue a one-year DS-2019. Which means you have to apply for another DS-2019 once you secure more funding from the school. I am not sure how common this practice is, but it's not convenient since if your DS-2019 is only good for one year, then your spouse's Employment Authorization Document also expires after one year and you have to reapply (it takes > 3 months!).
So, it seems like what your case might be may really depend on how your school treat international students. My school is 40% international and it seems like they treat us really well (e.g. willing to vouch for 6 years of funding even though it's "conditional"). But in many program "satisfactory progress" is equivalent to "not failing out" because I don't really know a case where a school will tell a Physics (or related) PhD student that they are not good enough for funding but still good enough to stay in the program. Technically, if anything on the DS-2019 changes (i.e. more funding/less funding), you need to tell the school and they have to edit your DS-2019, so there shouldn't be a real risk for the school to issue a maximum length DS-2019. But it's the school's right to do what they want, so it's not something you can expect, if that makes sense!