The J-1 visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa issued to individuals who are considered as exchange visitors who wish to come to the United States temporarily to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.
The J-1 visa beneficiaries are sponsored by an exchange program designated by the U.S. Department of State to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills, in the field of education, arts, and science.
The following are some of the common Program Categories for J-1 Visa Holders:
- Short-Term Professors or Scholars
- Research assistants
- Nannies/Au Pair Program
- Trainees or Internships
- Camp counselors
The main purpose of the J-1 visa is to give the J-1 beneficiaries the opportunity to visit the U.S. for a short period of time to continue their education or receive hands-on training in the professional workplace, with the intention of practicing their newly acquired skills upon returning to their home country.
In order to be eligible for a J-1 visa, the applicants must meet strict eligibility requirements, which include proficiency in the English language, and be sponsored through a university, private organization, or government program.
Two-year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement under the J-1 Visa
Specific J-1 visa categories will have a two-year home residency requirement wherein the J-1 visa holder must return to his/her home country for two years at the end of the exchange visitor program. This requirement under immigration law is based on Section 212€ of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
A J-1 exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home residency requirement if the following conditions exist in his J-1 sponsorship:
- Government funded exchange program – The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the U.S. government or the government of the exchange visitor’s nationality or last residence;
- Graduate medical education or training – The exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training;
- Specialized knowledge or skill; Skills List – The exchange visitor is a national or permanent residence of a country in which has deemed the field of specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the country, as shown on the Exchange Visitor Skills List. Review the Exchange Visitor Skills List 2009.
Restrictions – the J-1 exchange visitor will be required to return to his/her home country for a cumulative total period of at least two years and will not be able to:
- Change status while in the United States to the nonimmigrant categories of temporary worker (H) or intracompany transferee (L);
- Adjust status while in the United States to immigrant visa/lawful permanent resident status (LPR);
- Receive an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate; or
- Receive temporary worker (H), intracompany transferee (L), or fiancé (K) visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Waiver of Two Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement – in some instances, a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement may be granted.
Dependents of the J-1 Visa Holder
Spouse and unmarried minor children of a J-1 visa holder maybe issued the J-2 dependent visa, depending on the specific type of work or educational program the J-1 visa holder participates in, along with the organization that sponsors the visa.
**Please call our office for immediate assistance on your visa requirements.