The J-1 Exchange Visitor visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs established by the U.S. Department of State. The J-1 visa is applicable for individuals such as students, primary and secondary school teachers, trainees receiving on the job training, professors, and medical trainees.
In order to be eligible to apply for a J-1 visa, the following conditions must be present:
- The individual intends to stay in the U.S. for a specified period of time and plans to return to their home country upon completion of their exchange program goals.
- The applicant must be able to document possession of monetary savings to cover their expenses while in the U.S. Alternatively, they must be able to provide documentation / evidence as to the means by which their expenses will be covered while in the U.S.
- The individual must be able to provide significant documentation pertaining to their economic and social ties to their home country, thus evidencing their nonimmigrant intent.
Professors and teachers who are in the U.S. in J-1 status generally receive employment authorization for up to 3 years. Trainees who are in the U.S. in J-1 status only receive employment authorization for up to 18 months. Additionally, student exchange visitors who are in the U.S. in J-1 status receive authorization to engage in "academic training" for up to 18 months upon completion of their studies.
Please note that certain programs under the J-1 visa are subject to a 2 year foreign residence requirement. Thus, if the program and / or skill set under which the applicant falls under is subject to the 2 year foreign residence requirement, the applicant will need to return to their home country for 2 years before being readmitted to the U.S. under any other visa category or changing their status while in the U.S. If the individual wishes to return to the U.S. under a separate visa category or to change to another visa status while in the U.S., the individual will need to apply for a waiver to lift the 2 year foreign residence requirement. Please note that an individual who has applied for a Green Card before their 2 year foreign residence requirement has been waived / fulfilled is not eligible to change their status to that of Lawful Permanent Resident.
Spouses and children under the age of 21 are eligible to accompany the J-1 holder to the U.S. for the duration of the J-1 visa. Spouses and children are also eligible to apply for separate work authorization through USCIS provided that the primary purpose of the J-2 dependent’s employment is not to financially support the J-1 holder. Additionally, spouses and children are authorized to study in the U.S. without applying for a separate student visa.