Exchange Visitor Visa: J-1
What is it that makes the United States such a unique country? Find out for yourself through the U.S. Exchange Visitors visa (J-1) program.
Administered through the US Department of State and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the J-1 visa program is designed to promote cultural exchange by allowing foreign nationals to come to the US to experience the “American way of life”, while enhancing their occupational skills through participation in US government approved training programs. J-1 visas are available for “Exchange Visitors” in any of the following categories:
- Secondary school and college students, including students working towards a graduate degree;
- Business trainees;
- Trainees in flight aviation programs;
- Primary and secondary school teachers;
- College professors;
- Research scholars;
- Medical residents or interns receiving medical training within the U.S.;
- International visitors for the purpose of travel, observation, consultation, research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs;
- Au pair programs (foreign youth placed with U.S. families to provide child care); and
- Camp counselors.
J-1 visa applicants must obtain sponsorship from an agency designated as a J-1 sponsor by the U.S. Department of State. The sponsor is not the organization or agency where the J-1 visa holder will work, or serve as a trainee or intern. The J-1 sponsor is the agency that communicates the Department of State requirements to the J-1 applicant and approves the applicant to participate in the J-1 program. There are hundreds of sponsors in the U.S., each of which specializes in a limited number of J-1 exchange programs. For example, there are sponsors who specialize only in au pair programs, and sponsors who specialize only in business trainee and intern programs, and so on. The sponsor issues a special form to an approved J-1 applicant, the DS-2019, and the applicant uses that form to apply for a J-1 visa at a consulate overseas.
Certain types of J-1 exchange visitors require that the foreign national return to his/her home country or country of last permanent residence for a period of two (2) years after the completion of the J-1 status. However, there are certain circumstances where this requirement may be waived.
To find out whether you are subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement, contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our U.S. licensed Immigration lawyers.