Do You Qualify for a J-1 Visa?

The J-1 visa is used by international visitors to enter the United States temporarily for educational or cultural exchange purposes. Participants of the Exchange Visitor Program are expected to return to their respective home countries to utilize the skills that they acquire while in the U.S.

The 7 main Exchange Visitor Program categories

  1. Trainees and interns in medicine, business, and other fields
  2. Secondary, college, and university students
  3. Teachers at all academic levels
  4. Professors employed to teach and/or perform research at post-secondary institutions
  5. Au pairs
  6. Government Visitors
  7. Research Scholars.

J-1 visa holders may be authorized to work in the U.S. as part of their exchange program. Participants in programs which do not involve work may not engage in outside employment.

What are the J-1 Visa Requirements?

In order to apply for a J-1 visa, applicants must:

  • be sponsored by an American organization to come to the U.S. as a visitor in one of the recognized exchange categories above
  • obtain a Form DS-2019 from their sponsor before applying for a J-1 visa
  • have the requisite academic background to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program, including knowledge of the English language (unless the program does not require such knowledge)
  • demonstrate that they plan to depart the U.S. at the conclusion of their exchange program
  • demonstrate that they have compelling social and economic ties abroad which they have no intention of abandoning
  • demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to cover living expenses incurred while in the U.S

Exchange visitors coming to the U.S. for medical education or training must have passed the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination.

J-1 Visa Foreign Residency Requirements

An exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement if one of the following conditions exist:

  • The program in which the exchange visitor is participating is directly or indirectly financed in whole or in part by the U.S. government or the government of the exchange visitor
  • The exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training
  • The exchange visitor is a national or permanent resident of a country which has deemed the field of specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the country.

If the exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home country foreign residence requirement, he or she cannot change his/her status to that of H visa, L visa, K visa, or lawful U.S. permanent resident until he or she has returned to his/her home country for at least two years or received a waiver of that requirement.

Waivers of Foreign Residency for J-1 Visa Holders

A waiver of the physical presence requirement may be granted in any one of the following situations:

  • "No Objection" Statement from the visitor's home government is obtained
  • The visitor claims that she or he will be persecuted if returned home
  • A U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child claims that exceptional hardship will result if the visitor returns home
  • A request is made on behalf of the visitor by an interested U.S. government agency
  • A request is made on behalf of the visitor by a designated health agency or its equivalent.

Spouses and Children that Accompany J-1 Visa Holders

Spouses and/or children (under the age of 21) who wish to accompany the principal J-1 visa applicant to the U.S. require derivative J visas. The application procedure is the same as that for a primary visa applicant. The sponsor must approve the accompaniment of the spouse and/or children and issue each approved family member a Form DS-2019 as well. In addition, accompanying family members of the principal applicant must demonstrate that they have sufficient financial resources to cover all expenses while in the U.S. Accompanying spouses and children of the J-1 visa holder may study in the U.S. during the principal applicant's exchange, but they are not authorized to work. J-2 visa holders may, however, apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for employment authorization.

Why Seeking Professional Help for a J-1 Visa is Crucial

When it comes to the process for a J-1 visa application, U.S. Immigration has set up many hoops through which to jump. Every detail of the application needs to be fulfilled properly, and one mistake or missing piece of information can result in a failed attempt. This is where immigration lawyers make a huge difference. We are experts in what needs to be done to convince immigration officers of your qualifications.

Why Hire Us to Help You With Your J-1 Visa Application?

Instead of worrying about whether you can satisfy the many strict details of the J-1 visa, we take the burden of preparing the application, so you can focus on the other important elements of your temporary stay in the United States. Our lawyers have helped hundreds of applicants get admitted to the United States on a J-1 visa, and we can help you too!

The first step towards obtaining a J-1 visa is getting an assessment of your case. Fill out our immigration assessment form and we'll get back to you within 24 hours to discuss your eligibility and options.

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