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J Visas

Are you a foreign national between the ages of 18-26?

Can you read, write and speak English very well?

If yes, then you may qualify for the J-1 visa (Exchange Visitor Program).

The J visa is a part of the U.S. Exchange Visitor Program. The purpose of the program is to promote educational and cultural exchanges between people of the U.S. and people of other countries. Some of the occupations that can qualify for a J-1 visa include camp counselor, government visitor, intern, physician, professor or research scholar, specialist, high school or college/university student, au pair (nanny), and teacher. To find out more about qualifying for a J-1 visa, if your occupation is listed above, visit the U.S. Department of State website: travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1267.html#2

PROGRAM

MAXIMUM DURATION

Au Pair Program

12 months. Extension 6, 9, or 12 months possible.

Camp Counselors

4 months. No extensions.

College and University Student Program

Bachelor/Master degree: 18 months

Post Doctoral: 36 months

 

Non-degree: 24 months

Government Visitor Program

18 months

Intern Program

12 months

International Visitor Program

12 months

Physician Program

Duration of the residency program. Maximum 7 years.

Professor and Research Scholar Program

Maximum – 5 years, minimum – 3 weeks

Secondary School Student Program

12 months

Short-term Scholar Program

6 months

Specialist Program

12 months

Summer Work Travel Program

4 months

Teacher Program

3 years

Trainee Program

Agriculture, Hospitality: 12 months

Others: 18 months

APAIR PROGRAM

The Au Pair Program allows foreign nationals to participate directly in the home life of a host family by providing limited childcare services. Participants and host families take part in a 51

mutually rewarding, intercultural opportunity through the Au Pair Program. Foreign national members can continue their education at the same time experiencing everyday life with an American family, and hosts receive reliable and responsible childcare from individuals who become part of the household. While the top priority of a successful participant would be able to take care of the kids as a live-in childcare provider, they are also provided free time to enjoy life in the U.S.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR AN AU PAIR J-1 VISA?

The requirements for au pairs entering the U.S. on J-1 visas are:

  • Must be proficient in spoken English;
  • Must be a secondary school graduate or equivalent;
  • Be between the ages of 18 years to 26 years;
  • Be in good health;
  • Should have a genuine love of children;
  • If required by the host family, must be a non-smoker;
  • Must be prepared to commit to one year away from home;
  • Must not have previously lived in the U.S. as an au pair;
  • Have an international driver’s license and a minimum of 50 hours of driving experience.

WHAT ARE THE RESTRICTIONS FOR AN AU PAIR ON A J-1 VISA?

Au pairs entering the U.S. on J-1 visas must follow certain restrictions, such as:

  • The au pair is limited to give childcare for no more than 10 hours per day, and a maximum of 45 hours per week;
  • The pay given to the au pair must satisfy the Fair Labor Standards Act;
  • Au pairs must complete at least six hours of academic credit or its equivalent from an accredited U.S. post-secondary educational institution (i.e., a junior college, college, university, or trade school).

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON THE HOST FAMILY OF AN AU PAIR ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. The host families of au pairs entering the U.S. on J-1 visas have restrictions placed on them. Some of these limitations are as follows:

  • The host family must not have an infant less than three months old in the care of the au pair, unless a parent or another responsible adult is home with the au pair;
  • The host family must not leave the au pair with an infant less than two years old, unless the au pair has at least 200 hours of documented childcare experience;
  • The host family must not have a child with special needs, unless the au pair has expressly identified prior experience, skill, or training in caring for a special needs child;
  • The host family must sign a Host Family-Au Pair agreement before the placement of the au pair in the host family’s home;
  • Host families must pay up to $500.00 for the au pair’s required academic course work.

ARE AN INTERVIEW AND FINGERPRINTING REQUIRED FOR A J VISA?

Yes. As part of the J visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for J visa applicants who are between the ages of 14 and A fingerprint scan is also required.

HOW LONG CAN STAY IN THE U.S. AS AN AU PAIR ON A J-1 VISA?

J-1 visa au pairs may provide their services in the U.S. for twelve (12) months. An extension of the J-1 visa may be granted, in certain cases.

CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. AS A J-1 VISA HOLDER?

Yes. Spouses and/or children under the age of twenty-one (21) of J-1 visa holders are issued J-2 visas and are allowed to stay for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s time in the U.S. The family members of J-1 visa holders are eligible to work after they receive employment authorization from the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). J-1 dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. without applying for another visa. 53

CAMP COUNSELOR PROGRAM

School-age children have a long vacation in the summer in the U.S.. There are many summer camps organized throughout the U.S.. Through the Camp Counselor program, foreign post-secondary students or youth workers can engage with American youth at U.S. summer camps. They oversee the camp activities of the American youth during the U.S. summer. Through this program, American campers have the chance to gain knowledge of foreign cultures, while international camp counselors increase their understanding of American culture.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A CAMP COUNSELOR J-1 VISA?

The requirements for camp counselors entering the U.S. on J-1 visas are:

  • Must be proficient in spoken English;
  • Must be able to supervise and interact with American youth;
  • Must be at least 18 years old;
  • Must be a foreign post-secondary student, youth worker, teacher, or individual with specialized skills.

WHAT ARE THE RESTRICTIONS FOR A CAMP COUNSELOR ON A J-1 VISA?

Camp counselors entering the U.S. on J-1 visas must follow certain restrictions, such as:

  • Accommodations (housing) and meals are provided at the camps at no cost to the camp counselors;
  • Participants must receive pay and benefits commensurate with those offered to their American counterparts at the camps;
  • Camp counselors will occasionally have to perform non-counseling duties as part of camp life;
  • However, they cannot serve as “staff” — for example, they cannot act as office workers (administrative personnel), cooks, or menial laborers, such as dishwashers or janitors;
  • Employers must provide all participants with a phone number, which allows 24 hours’ immediate contact with the sponsor;
  • Participants can work as counselors in U.S. summer camps for up to four months. Extensions are not granted.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON THE SPONSOR OF A CAMP COUNSELOR ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. The sponsors of camp counselors entering the U.S. on J-1 visas have restrictions placed on them. Some of these limitations are as follows:

  • The sponsor should conduct an in-person interview of the prospective camp counselors;
  • The sponsor should secure references regarding the suitability of prospective camp counselors for a particular summer camp;
  • Sponsors must find positions for all participants before they arrive in the U.S.;
  • Eligible summer camps must be accredited, a member in good standing of the American Camp Association, affiliated with a nationally recognized nonprofit organization, or inspected, evaluated, and approved by the sponsor;
  • Before the participant’ departure to the U.S., sponsors should provide them with information on their duties and responsibilities as a camp counselor, contractual obligations about accepting a camp counselor position and information on financial compensation;
  • Ensure that participants have the required J-1 visa health insurance;
  • Maintain SEVIS;
  • Monitor participants throughout their stay and provide assistance as needed.

ARE AN INTERVIEW AND FINGERPRINTING REQUIRED FOR A J VISA?

Yes. As part of the J visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for J visa applicants who are between the ages of 14 and  A fingerprint scan is also required.

CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. AS A J-1 VISA HOLDER?

Yes. Spouses and/or children under the age of twenty-one (21) of J-1 visa holders are issued J-2 visas and are allowed to stay for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s time in the U.S.. The family members of J-1 visa holders are eligible to work after they receive employment authorization from the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). J-1 dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. without applying for another visa. 55

COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT PROGRAM

The College and University Student Program under the J-1 visa gives foreign students the opportunity to study at an American degree-granting post-secondary accredited educational institution, including colleges and universities. Students may participate in degree and non-degree programs. Students must pursue a full-time course of study and maintain satisfactory advancement toward the completion of their academic program. Or they can participate in a student internship program that will fulfill the educational objectives of the student’s degree program in his/her home country.

WHAT ARE THE RESTRICTIONS FOR A COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY STUDENT ON A J-1 VISA?

College and university students entering the U.S. on J-1 visas must follow certain restrictions, such as:

Source of Funding: college/University students must be financed by funding from any source other than personal or family, but directly or indirectly by the U.S. government, their home country government, or an international organization of which the U.S. is a member by treaty or statute (like the United Nations);

Academic Program: the program must be carried out according to an agreement between the U.S. government and a foreign government, or according to a written contract between American and international educational institutions, an American educational institution and a foreign government, or a state or local government in the U.S. and a foreign government;

Alternatively, the student is participating in a student internship program that will fulfill the educational objectives of the student’s degree program in his/her home country. Another option is that the student pursues a non-degree program by enrolling full-time in a prescribed course of study, until their program’s completion. The maximum duration of a non-degree program is 24 months, inclusive of academic training.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON THE SPONSOR OF A COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. The sponsors of college or university students entering the U.S. on J-1 visas have restrictions placed on them. Some of these limitations are as follows:

  • Sponsor supervises the exchange program application process (not the university’s application process, which may be a separate application), issues the DS-2019 and is the main point of contact throughout the exchange program;
  •  Sponsors must not issue the DS-2019 until they determine that the participants have the academic credentials required for their program through securing sufficient background information on students, and must ensure that they have been admitted to the post-secondary accredited educational institution.

ARE AN INTERVIEW AND FINGERPRINTING REQUIRED FOR A J VISA?

Yes. As part of the J visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for J visa applicants who are between the ages of 14 and  A fingerprint scan is also required.

CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. AS A J-1 VISA HOLDER?

Yes. Spouses and/or children under the age of twenty-one (21) of J-1 visa holders are issued J-2 visas and are allowed to stay for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s time in the U.S.. The family members of J-1 visa holders are eligible to work after they receive employment authorization from the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). J-1 dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. without applying for another visa.

• Please Note: Participants in The College and University Student Program are required to maintain a full course of study, except:

  • During official school breaks and summer vacations, if the student is eligible and intends to register for the next term;
  • If they have an illness or medical condition;
  • If they have a bona fide academic reason;
  • If they are engaged full-time in a prescribed non-degree program for up to 24 months;
  • If they are engaged in authorized academic training; or,
  • If they require less than a full course of study to complete their academic requirements during the final term.

To obtain a reduction or interruption in studies for medical or academic reasons, students must give the responsible officer at their designated sponsor organization a written statement from a physician and/or from the university dean or an advisor recommending such a course of action.

GOVERNMENT VISITOR PROGRAM

Through the Government Visitor Program under the J-1 visa, distinguished international visitors develop and strengthen professional and personal relationships with their American counterparts in U.S. federal, state or local government agencies. Such participants are influential and prominent persons and selected by a U.S. federal, state or local government agency. They are engaged in observation tours, discussions, consultations, professional meetings, conferences, workshops, travel, training and demonstrating exceptional skills.

Please Note: The maximum duration of the participation in this program is 18 months.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON THE SPONSOR OF A GOVERNMENT VISITOR ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. The sponsors of government visitors entering the U.S. on J-1 visas have restrictions placed on them. Some of these limitations are as follows:

  • Sponsors must ensure that participants are:
    • Appropriately screened and selected; and,
    • Have health insurance in place for the duration of the exchange program for themselves and their dependents, if any.
  • Before the program begins, the sponsor needs to provide:
    • Information on the length and location(s) of the participant’s exchange visitor program;
    • A summary of the significant components of the program; and,
    • A written statement clearly stating the stipend, if any, to be paid to the government visitor.

ARE AN INTERVIEW AND FINGERPRINTING REQUIRED FOR A J VISA?

Yes. As part of the J visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for J visa applicants who are between the ages of 14 and 79. A fingerprint scan is also required.

CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. AS A J-1 VISA HOLDER?

Yes. Spouses and/or children under the age of twenty-one (21) of J-1 visa holders are issued J-2 visas and are allowed to stay for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s time in the U.S.. The family members of J-1 visa holders are eligible to work after they receive employment authorization from the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). J-1 dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. without applying for another visa.

INTERN PROGRAM

The J-1 Visa Intern Program is designed to allow foreign professionals to come to the U.S. to gain exposure to U.S. culture and to receive training in U.S. business practices in their chosen occupational field. The maximum duration of an internship in any professional field is 12 months. Upon completion of their exchange programs, participants are expected to return to their home countries. This program bridges the gap between formal education and practical work experience. All parties involved in internship programs should recognize that interns are seeking entry-level training and expertise. Accordingly, all placements must be tailored to the skills and experience level of the individual intern.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR AN INTERN ON A J-1 VISA?

Interns entering the U.S. on J-1 visas must follow certain restrictions, such as:

  • An intern must be a foreign national:
    • Who is currently enrolled in and pursuing studies in a foreign degree- or certificate-granting post-secondary academic institution outside the U.S.; or,
    • Who has graduated from such an institution no more than 12 months before his/her exchange visitor program start date; and,
    • Who is at least 18 years of age.
  • Participants must have their English language proficiency evaluated or verified by a recognized English language test (such as TOEFL, Cambridge, etc.), by signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school, or through an in-person interview conducted by the sponsor, or by video conference, or by webcam;
  • Sponsors or any third parties acting on their behalf must conduct a thorough screening of potential interns, including a documented interview in-person, by video conference, or by web camera;
  • If you have already done an internship previously on J-1 visa, you will have to first spend 90 days outside the U.S. before the program, and your Internship Plan Form DS-7002 will need to prove that you are not duplicating your previous internship.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS FOR AN INTERN ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. Interns entering the U.S. on J-1 visas have restrictions placed on them. Some of these limitations are as follows:

The intern cannot work in the following work environments:

  • Unskilled or casual labor positions;
  • Positions that require or involve child care or elder care;
  •  Any kind of job that requires patient medical care or contact;
  • Jobs that require more than 20 percent clerical or office support work.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS FOR THE SPONSOR OF AN INTERN ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. The sponsors of interns entering the U.S. on J-1 visas have restrictions placed on them. Some of these limitations are as follows:

  • Sponsors must conduct site visits to host organizations that:
    • Have not previously participated successfully in the sponsor’s program;
    • Have fewer than 25 employees; and
    • Have less than $3 million in annual revenue.
  • Sponsors must collect the following information from all host organizations:
    • Employer Identification Number (EIN);
    • Verification of telephone number, address, brochures, website, etc.; and,
    • Proof of worker’s compensation insurance policy.
    • Sponsors must have a written agreement in place with any third-party involved in an internship program. The written contract must outline the responsibilities on all matters concerning the administration of the J-1 exchange visitor program.

ARE AN INTERVIEW AND FINGERPRINTING REQUIRED FOR A J VISA?

Yes. As part of the J visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for J visa applicants who are between the ages of 14 and  A fingerprint scan is also required.

CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. AS A J-1 VISA HOLDER?

Yes. Spouses and/or children under the age of twenty-one (21) of J-1 visa holders are issued J-2 visas and are allowed to stay for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s time in the U.S. The family members of J-1 visa holders are eligible to work after they receive employment authorization from the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). J-1 dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. without applying for another visa.

INTERNATIONAL VISITOR PROGRAM

The international visitor category under J-1 visa is for people-to-people programs, which seek to develop and strengthen professional and personal ties between key foreign nationals and Americans and American institutions. Participants are selected by the U.S. Department of States, and they must be a recognized or potential leader in a field of specialized knowledge or skill. Participants are engaged in consultation, observation, research, training or demonstration of special skills. They participate in observation tours, discussions, consultations, professional meetings, conferences, workshops and travel as a way to better understand U.S. culture and society and contribute to a better knowledge of foreign cultures in the U.S.

Please Note: The maximum duration of this program is one year.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS FOR THE SPONSOR OF AN INTERNATIONAL VISITOR ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. The sponsors of international visitors entering the U.S. on J-1 visas have restrictions placed on them. Sponsors are required to provide international visitors with a summary of the significant components of the program.

ARE AN INTERVIEW AND FINGERPRINTING REQUIRED FOR A J VISA?

Yes. As part of the J visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for J visa applicants who are between the ages of 14 and 79. A fingerprint scan is also required.

CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. AS A J-1 VISA HOLDER?

Yes. Spouses and/or children under the age of twenty-one (21) of J-1 visa holders are issued J-2 visas and are allowed to stay for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s time in the U.S. The family members of J-1 visa holders are eligible to work after they receive employment authorization from the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). J-1 dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. without applying for another visa.

PHYSICIAN PROGRAM

The Alien Physician program under the J-1 visa allows foreign physicians to participate in U.S. graduate medical education programs or training at accredited U.S. schools of medicine.

THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF EXCHANGE PROGRAMS:

  • Clinical training in the “alien physician” category;
  • Non-clinical training in the “research scholar” category.

Clinical Exchange Program – Foreign national physicians in the Clinical Exchange Program may also be referred to as foreign medical graduates or international medical graduates.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A FOREIGN NATIONAL PHYSICIAN ON A J-1 VISA?

Foreign national physicians entering the U.S. on J-1 visas must follow certain restrictions, such as they must:

  • Have adequate prior education and training to participate satisfactorily in the program for which they are coming to the U.S.;
  • Have competency in oral and written English;
  • Be able to adapt to the educational and cultural environment in which they will be receiving their education and training;
  • Have the background, needs and experiences suitable for the program;
  • Have passed either Parts I and II of the National Board of Medical Examiners Examination, the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination, Step I and Step II, or the Visa

Qualifying Examination (VQE) prepared by the National Board of Medical Examiners, administered by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates;

  • Provide a statement of need from the government of the country of their nationality or last legal permanent residence. It should state that there is a need in that country for persons with the skills the alien physician seeks to acquire, and such written assurance should be provided to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
  • An agreement or contract from a U.S. accredited medical school, an affiliated hospital, or a scientific institution that is intended to provide the accredited medical education, signed by the alien physician and the official responsible for the training.

Non-clinical Exchange Program – This program allows foreign national physicians to come to the U.S. for the purpose of observation, consultation, teaching, or research and may be sponsored by a U.S. university or academic medical center that has been designated by the U.S. Department of State to conduct and exchange visitor program in the category of a research scholar.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A FOREIGN NATIONAL PHYSICIAN UNDER THE NONCLINICAL PROGRAM?

Foreign national physicians entering the U.S. on J-1 visas must follow certain restrictions, such as:

  • The sponsor signs and appends to the Form DS-2019 a certificate which states, “This certifies that the program in which … is to be engaged is solely for the purpose of observation, consultation, teaching, or research and that no element of patient care is involved”; or,
  • The dean of the involved accredited U.S. medical school or his/her designee must certify the following five points:
    • The program is predominantly observation, consultation, teaching or research;
    •  Any incidental patient contact will be under the direct supervision of a U.S. citizen or resident alien physician who is licensed to practice medicine in the State in which the activity is taking place;
    • The foreign national physician will not be given final responsibility for the diagnosis and treatment of patients;
    • Any actions will conform fully with the State licensing requirements and regulations for medical and health care professionals in the State in which the program is being pursued; and
    • Any experience gained will not be creditable towards any clinical requirements for medical specialty board certification.

ARE AN INTERVIEW AND FINGERPRINTING REQUIRED FOR A J VISA?

Yes. As part of the J visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for J visa applicants who are between the ages of 14 and 79. A fingerprint scan is also required.

CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. AS A J-1 VISA HOLDER?

Yes. Spouses and/or children under the age of twenty-one (21) of J-1 visa holders are issued J-2 visas and are allowed to stay for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s time in the U.S.. The family members of J-1 visa holders are eligible to work after they receive employment authorization from the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). J-1 dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. without applying for another visa.

Please Note: Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, some people, mostly physicians, who enter the United States under the J-1 visa category, are not allowed to change their status until they obtain a waiver of the two-year foreign residency requirements. However, physicians and other professionals who are subjected to the two-year residency requirement should consult an attorney or know the consequences of the two-year foreign residency requirements before applying for the J visa. Family members may accompany a J-1 visa holder, but they must obtain individual exchange visitor visas, as well.

One Further Note: Physicians who want to enter the U.S. in J-1 status to participate in graduate medical training are subject to strict requirements. Such candidates must have passed the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in Medical Sciences, have good English, and are automatically subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement. These candidates are also subject to time limits on the duration of their program.

PROFESSOR AND RESEARCH SCHOLAR PROGRAM

The exchange of professors and research scholars promotes the exchange of ideas, mutual enrichment, and linkages between research and educational institutions in the U.S. and foreign countries. This program provides the participants with the opportunity to engage in research, teaching and lecturing with their American colleagues, to participate actively in cross-cultural activities with Americans, and ultimately to share with their countrymen their experiences and increased knowledge of the U.S. and their substantive fields. 64

Please Note: The maximum duration of all professor or research scholar programs is five years, unless a federally funded national research and development center or a U.S. federal laboratory directly sponsors the participant.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A PROFESSOR OR RESEARCH SCHOLAR ON A J-1 VISA?

Professors or research scholars entering the U.S. on J-1 visas must follow certain restrictions, such as:

  • Must not be a candidate for a tenure-track position;
  • Cannot have participated in and completed a professor or research scholar program within the last 24 months preceding the beginning date of their new program’s commencement;
  • Cannot have been involved in a J-visa program for all or part of the 12-month period immediately preceding the start date of a professor or research scholar program, unless they meet one of the following exceptions:
    • The participant is currently in a professor or research scholar program and is transferring to another institution in the U.S. to continue their current J-1 program;
    • The participant’s prior physical presence in the U.S. on a J-visa program was less than six months in duration;
    • The previous participation was as a short-term scholar.
  • Have the education and credentials necessary to carry out the activity for which they are entering the U.S.;
  • Have sufficient proficiency in the English language to function in an English-speaking environment.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS FOR THE SPONSOR OF A PROFESSOR OR RESEARCH SCHOLAR ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. The sponsors of professors or research scholars entering the U.S. on J-1 visas have restrictions placed on them. Some of these restrictions are as follows:

  • Must screen and select foreign nationals to further education, research and exchange initiatives;
  • Are required to monitor the visitor’s stay in the U.S, ensure that they are progressing in the work being performed or the research being conducted; and,
  • Must ensure that they are involved in cross-cultural programs where they can learn about the U.S. and its people.

WHAT ARE THE BARS ON REPEAT PARTICIPATION?

Potential participants are subject to a 12-month or 24-month bar from participating in other J-1 exchange programs. Please note that these bars are different from the two-year residency requirement required under INA 212(e) for certain J visa recipients;

  • 12-Month Bar on Repeat Participation – The 12-month bar prohibits foreign nationals from beginning a new program in the research scholar or professor category if they were in the U.S. on a J visa (either on J-1 primary or J-2 dependents) for all or part of the twelve-month period immediately preceding the date of the new program’s commencement, unless they meet one of the following exceptions:
  • Exchange participants who are currently participants as a professor or research scholar and are transferring to another institution in the U.S. to continue their current J-1 program;
  • An exchange visitor participant whose prior J status (physical presence in the U.S.) was of less than 6 months duration.

ARE AN INTERVIEW AND FINGERPRINTING REQUIRED FOR A J VISA?

Yes. As part of the J visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for J visa applicants who are between the ages of 14 and 79. A fingerprint scan is also required.

CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. AS A J-1 VISA HOLDER?

Yes. Spouses and/or children under the age of twenty-one (21) of J-1 visa holders are issued J-2 visas and are allowed to stay for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s time in the U.S.. The family members of J-1 visa holders are eligible to work after they receive employment authorization from the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). J-1 dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. without applying for another visa.

SHORTTERM SCHOLAR PROGRAM

There are many professors, research scholars, or persons with similar education or accomplishments who may wish to travel to the U.S. on a short-term visit for the purpose of lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited academic institutions, or similar type of establishments. For them, the J-1 visa may be most appropriate.

WHAT ARE THE RESTRICTIONS FOR A SHORTTERM SCHOLAR ON A J-1 VISA?

  • The maximum duration of participation in this category is six months;
  • No program extensions are permitted;
  • No change category will be considered;
  • The minimum program duration of 3 weeks for any exchange visitor program category is waived for participants in this class;
  • Exchange visitors who have recently participated in an exchange program as a professor or research scholar in the U.S. are not expected to attempt to reenter the U.S. as a short-term scholar to rejoin original sponsor, as this would be considered a continuation of their original program objective;
  • This category is often used for lectures, observations, consultations, conferences, professional meetings, participate in seminars, workshops, etc.;
  • This class is primarily for academics who reside outside the U.S. and are invited to the U.S. occasionally for short visits;
  •  Participants may return to the U.S. again for a new Short-Term Scholar’s stay, provided there is a substantial break between the visits and each visit is a new objective;
  • A participant may return to the U.S. for a longer-term stay using the J-1 Research Scholar/Professor category without being subject to the 12- and 24-month bars.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON THE SPONSOR OF A SHORTTERM SCHOLAR ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. The sponsors of short-term scholars entering the U.S. on J-1 visas have restrictions placed on them. Some of these limitations are as follows: 67

  • Screen and select qualified foreign nationals to carry out exchange initiatives;
  • Monitor the visitor’s stay while in the U.S. and assist with any issues that may occur;
  • Ensure that the foreign national is successfully carrying out the responsibilities for which entry to the U.S. was granted;
  • Ensure that exchange visitors are involved in cross-cultural programs where they can learn about the U.S. and its people;
  • Maintain SEVIS records;
  • Ensure that the exchange participants and his/her dependents, if any, are covered by health insurance; and,
  • Ensure that exchange visitors have sufficient finances to participate in the program and to support their spouse and dependents, if any.

ARE AN INTERVIEW AND FINGERPRINTING REQUIRED FOR A J VISA?

Yes. As part of the J visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for J visa applicants who are between the ages of 14 and 79. A fingerprint scan is also required.

CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. AS A J-1 VISA HOLDER?

Yes. Spouses and/or children under the age of twenty-one (21) of J-1 visa holders are issued J-2 visas and are allowed to stay for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s time in the U.S.. The family members of J-1 visa holders are eligible to work after they receive employment authorization from the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). J-1 dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. without applying for another visa.

SUMMER WORK TRAVEL PROGRAM

In the summer work travel program under a J-1 visa, post-secondary students may travel to the U.S. to work and travel during their summer vacation.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A SUMMER WORK TRAVELER ON A J-1 VISA?

  •  Must be sufficiently proficient in English to successfully interact in an English-speaking environment;
  • Must be a post-secondary school student enrolled in and actively pursuing a degree or other full-time course of study at an accredited post-secondary educational institution outside the U.S.;
  • Must have successfully completed at least one semester or equivalent of post-secondary academic study; and,
  • Must have a pre-arranged job offer, unless from a visa waiver country.

WHAT ARE THE RESTRICTIONS FOR A SUMMER WORK TRAVELER ON A J-1 VISA?

  • Participants cannot be placed:
  • In any position in the adult entertainment industry;
  • In sales positions that require them to invest their own money (for purchasing inventory), such as door-to-door sales;
  • In domestic help positions in private homes (e.g. child care, elder care, gardener, chauffeur);
  • As operators of vehicles or vessels that carry passengers for hire and/or for which commercial drivers licenses are required;
  • In any position related to clinical care that involves patient contact;
  • In any position that could bring notoriety or disrepute to the Exchange Visitor Program of the U.S. Department of State;
  • In areas that are substantially commission-based and thus do not guarantee that you will be paid minimum wage by federal and state standards for all hours worked.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON THE SPONSOR OF A SUMMER WORK TRAVELER ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. The sponsors of summer work travelers entering the U.S. on J-1 visas have restrictions placed on them. Some of these limitations are as follows:

BEFORE ENTRY INTO THE U.S., SPONSORS MUST PROVIDE ALL PARTICIPANTS WITH:

  • A copy of the Department of State Summer Work Travel Program Brochure;
  • The Department of State’s toll-free helpline telephone number;
  • The sponsor’s 24/7 immediate contact telephone number;
  • Information advising participants of their obligation to notify their sponsor when they arrive in the U.S. and to provide information about any change in jobs or residence; and,
  • Information concerning any contractual obligations related to participants’ acceptance of paid employment in the U.S. , if pre-arranged.

ARE AN INTERVIEW AND FINGERPRINTING REQUIRED FOR A J VISA?

Yes. As part of the J visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for J visa applicants who are between the ages of 14 and 79. A fingerprint scan is also required.

CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. AS A J-1 VISA HOLDER?

Yes. Spouses and/or children under the age of twenty-one (21) of J-1 visa holders are issued J-2 visas and are allowed to stay for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s time in the U.S.. The family members of J-1 visa holders are eligible to work after they receive employment authorization from the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). J-1 dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. without applying for another visa.

TEACHER PROGRAM

Through the teacher program under J-1 visa, foreign teachers have the opportunity to teach in accredited primary and secondary schools in the U.S. for up to three years.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A TEACHER ON A J-1 VISA?

  •  Meet the qualifications for teaching in primary or secondary schools in their country of nationality or last legal residence;
  •  Have a minimum of three years of teaching or related professional experience;
  • Satisfy the standards of the U.S. state in which they will teach;
  •  Be seeking to enter the U.S. for the purpose of teaching full-time at an accredited primary or secondary educational institution; and,
  • Possess sufficient proficiency in the English language to participate in the program.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON THE SPONSOR OF A TEACHER ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. The sponsors of teachers entering the U.S. on J-1 visas have restrictions placed on them. Some of these limitations are as follows:

1) As part of the required pre-departure materials, sponsors must provide the following information to the participants:

  • The duration and location/s of the participants’ program;
  • A summary of the significant components of the program, including a written statement of the teaching requirements and related professional obligations; and,
  • A written statement that clearly indicates the compensation package to be provided to the exchange visitor teach and any other financial arrangements relevant to the program.

SPONSORS ARE ALSO REQUIRED TO:

  • Screen and select qualified foreign teachers who can make a contribution to the education of students in the U.S. and who want to learn U.S. teaching methods; and,
  • Monitor the visitor’s stay in the U.S. , ensure that they are performing their teaching responsibilities and involved in cross-cultural programs where they can learn about the U.S. and its people.

ARE AN INTERVIEW AND FINGERPRINTING REQUIRED FOR A J VISA?

Yes. As part of the J visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for J visa applicants who are between the ages of 14 and 79. A fingerprint scan is also required.

CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. AS A J-1 VISA HOLDER?

Yes. Spouses and/or children under the age of twenty-one (21) of J-1 visa holders are issued J-2 visas and are allowed to stay for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s time in the U.S.. The family members of J-1 visa holders are eligible to work after they receive employment authorization from the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). J-1 dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. without applying for another visa.

TRAINEE PROGRAM

Trainee programs are designed to allow foreign professionals to come to the U.S. to gain exposure to U.S. culture and to receive training in U.S. business practices in their chosen occupational field. Upon completion of their training, participants are expected to return to their home countries to utilize their newly learned skills and knowledge to advance their careers and share their experiences with their communities.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A TRAINEE ON A J-1 VISA?

A degree or professional certificate from a foreign post-secondary academic institution and at least one year of prior related work experience in his or her occupational field outside the U.S.; or

  • Five years of work experience outside the U.S. in the professional field in which they are seeking training;
  • Participants must have their English language proficiency evaluated or verified by a recognized English language test (such as TOEFL, Cambridge, etc.), by signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school, or through an in-person interview conducted by the sponsor, or by video conference, or by webcam;
  • Participants must be at least 20 years of age; and,
  • If you have already done training previously on a J-1 visa, you will have to first complete two years of residency outside the U.S. before the program, and your Training Plan Form DS-7002 will need to prove that you are not duplicating your previous training.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON A TRAINEE ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. The trainee cannot work in the following work environments:

• Unskilled or casual labor positions;

• Positions that require or involve child care or elder care;

• Any kind of position that requires patient medical care or contact;

• Positions that require more than 20 percent clerical or office support work; and,

• Use of the Exchange Visitor Program for ordinary employment or work purposes is strictly prohibited.

In addition,

• Sponsors may not place trainee participants in positions that are filled or would be filled by full-time or part-time employees;

• The training cannot duplicate a trained participant’s prior work experience or training.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON THE SPONSOR OF A TRAINEE ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. The sponsors of trainee entering the U.S. on J-1 visas have restrictions placed on them. Some of these limitations are as follows:

Sponsors must conduct site visits to host organizations that:

  • Have not previously participated successfully in the sponsor’s program;
  • Have fewer than 25 employees; and,
  • Have less than $3 million in annual revenue.
  • Sponsors must also collect the following information from all host organizations:
  •  Employer Identification Number (EIN);
  • Verification of telephone number, address, brochures, website, etc.; and,
  • Proof of worker’s compensation insurance policy or equivalent.

As well, sponsors must ensure the following for participants:

  • Trainees are appropriately selected, oriented, supervised and evaluated;
  • Make sure the training program is full-time, that is, at least 32 hours a week;
  • Be available to trainees to assist as facilitators and information resources; and,
  •  Have a written agreement in place with any third-party involved in a training program. The written contract must outline the responsibilities on all matters concerning the administration of the exchange visitor program.
  •  

ARE AN INTERVIEW AND FINGERPRINTING REQUIRED FOR A J VISA?

Yes. As part of the J visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for J visa applicants who are between the ages of 14 and 79. A fingerprint scan is also required.

CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. AS A J-1 VISA HOLDER?

Yes. Spouses and/or children under the age of twenty-one (21) of J-1 visa holders are issued J-2 visas and are allowed to stay for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s time in the U.S.. The family members of J-1 visa holders are eligible to work after they receive employment authorization from the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). J-1 dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. without applying for another visa.

SPECIALIST PROGRAM

Specialists are experts in a field of specialized knowledge or skills who travel to the U.S. for the purpose of interchange of knowledge and skills among foreign and American professionals by observing, consulting or demonstrating their special knowledge or skills.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A SPECIALIST ON A J-1 VISA?

  • Specialists must not fill a permanent or long-term position of employment while in the U.S.;
  • The maximum duration of this program is one year;
  • • This category is for specialists, as described above, except:
    • Professors and Research Scholars;
    • Short-Term Scholars; and,
    • Alien Physicians in graduate medical education or training.
  •  Some examples of represented categories include international educational exchange, labor law, environmental science, mass media communication, museum exhibitions, public administration, library science, etc.;
  • • This category of program facilitates exchange among experts at libraries, museums, government agencies, scientific institutions, corporations and similar types of institutions.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON THE SPONSOR OF A SPECIALIST ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. The sponsors of specialist entering the U.S. on J-1 visas have restrictions placed on them. Some of these restrictions are as follows:

  • Evaluate the qualifications of foreign nationals to determine whether they meet the definition of specialist as outlined in the regulations; and,
  • Provide the participant with the information on the length and locations of his or her exchange visitor program, a summary of the significant components of the program and a written statement clearly stating the stipend, if any, to be paid to the specialist.

ARE AN INTERVIEW AND FINGERPRINTING REQUIRED FOR A J VISA?

Yes. As part of the J visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for J visa applicants who are between the ages of 14 and 79. A fingerprint scan is also required.

CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. AS A J-1 VISA HOLDER?

Yes. Spouses and/or children under the age of twenty-one (21) of J-1 visa holders are issued J-2 visas and are allowed to stay for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s time in the U.S.. The family members of J-1 visa holders are eligible to work after they receive employment authorization from the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). J-1 dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. without applying for another visa.

SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENT PROGRAM

In the high school program under a J-1 visa, high school students travel to the U.S. to study at an accredited public or private high school and live with an American host family or at an accredited boarding school.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENT ON A J-1 VISA?

  • Must be between the ages of 15 and 18.5 years old by the first day of school;
  • Have not finished more than 11 years of primary and secondary education, not including kindergarten; and,
  • • Have not previously participated in a high school student academic year or semester exchange program or attended school in the U.S. in either F-1 or J-1 status.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON A SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENT ON A J-1 VISA?

  • Students may take part in school activities, including after school sports programs. The school district and the state office in charge of deciding athletic eligibility must approve the exchange student’s participation;
  • Students may not work part-time or full-time jobs. However, they may accept occasional work, like yard work or babysitting;
  • Exchange students are not allowed to live with relatives;
  • Participants are full-time students and must attend at least one academic semester (or its quarter equivalent), but no more than one academic year. If the school year in the foreign country is opposite that of the U.S. school year, students may participate in this program on a calendar year basis.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON THE SPONSOR OF A SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENT ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes. The sponsors of the secondary level students entering the U.S. on J-1 visas have restrictions placed on them. Some of these limitations are as follows:

  • Sponsoring organizations are required to screen all potential host families with whom participating students are placed. When screening potential host families, the sponsor will:
    • Provide potential host families with a detailed summary of the exchange visitor program and the duties and obligations of a host family’s participation;
    • Request a detailed overview and profile of the host family, the physical home environment, family’s composition, and community environment;
    • Conduct in-person interviews with all family members residing in the home;
    • Request two personal references for the host family from the school or community to attest to the host family’s good reputation and character;
    •  Ensure that the host family has adequate financial resources to host the student; and,
    • Verify that each member of the host family who is 18 and older has undergone a criminal background check.
  • Sponsors must ensure the following for participants:
    • Under no circumstances will a sponsor facilitate the entry of any student for whom a host family placement has not been secured or without a school placement. They must obtain written notice of a participant’s acceptance by the school from the principal or another authorized school administrator;
    • Sponsors may not enroll more than five students in one school, unless so requested in writing by the school;
    • Local coordinators are assigned to participants to monitor their program and assist with any issues during their stay in the U.S.;
    • No more than two foreign secondary school students may be placed in a host family home, and they can only be placed if all regulatory requirements are met: students are not from the same countries or have the same native language, written approval from the students, written approval from the student’s natural parents, and written acceptance of having two students by the host family;
    • Before students leave their home country, provide them with all travel arrangements and a profile of the school, the host family and the community in which they have been placed;
    • Students and their parents should be made aware whether their host family is considered an arrival (temporary) family or a permanent family for the school year.

ARE AN INTERVIEW AND FINGERPRINTING REQUIRED FOR A J VISA?

Yes. As part of the J visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for J visa applicants who are between the ages of 14 and 79. A fingerprint scan is also required.

CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. AS A J-1 VISA HOLDER?

Yes. Spouses and/or children under the age of twenty-one (21) of J-1 visa holders are issued J-2 visas and are allowed to stay for the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s time in the U.S.. The family members of J-1 visa holders are eligible to work after they receive employment authorization from the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). J-1 dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. without applying for another visa.

TWOYEAR HOME COUNTRY PHYSICAL PRESENCE REQUIREMENT

When you agree to participate in an Exchange Visitor Program and your program falls under the conditions explained below, you would be subject to the two-year home-country physical presence (foreign residence) requirement. This means you will be required to return to your home country for two years at the end of your exchange visitor program. This requirement under immigration law is based on Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS FOR THE TWOYEAR HOME COUNTRY PHYSICAL PRESENCE REQUIREMENT?

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

• 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 U.S. to receive graduate medical education or training;

• Specialized knowledge or skill: Skills List: 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, as shown on the Exchange Visitor Skills List.

WHAT ARE THE RESTRICTIONS FOR THE TWOYEAR HOME COUNTRY PHYSICAL PRESENCE REQUIREMENT?

When you, as an exchange visitor, are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, you must return to your home country for a cumulative total period of at least two years before you can do any of the following:

• Change status while in the U.S. to the nonimmigrant categories of temporary worker (H) or intercompany transferee (L);

• Adjust status while in the U.S. to immigrant visa/lawful permanent resident status (LPR);

• Receive an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate; or,

• Receive a temporary worker (H), intercompany transferee (L), or fiancé (K) visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

ARE THERE SOME EXCHANGE VISITORS WHO CAN APPLY FOR A WAIVER OF THE TWOYEAR HOMECOUNTRY PHYSICAL PRESENCE REQUIREMENT?

Individual exchange visitors (J-1) are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement, which requires you to return to your countries of origin for at least two years at the end of your exchange visitor program. This is also known as the foreign residence requirement under U.S. law, Immigration and Nationality Act, section 212(e). If you are unable to return to your home country to fulfill the two-year requirement, you must obtain a waiver approved by the Department of Homeland Security before changing status in the U.S. or being issued a visa in certain categories for travel to the U.S..

WHAT ARE THE FIVE BASIC CASES FOR THE RECOMMENDATION OF A WAIVER OF THE TWOYEAR HOMECOUNTRY PHYSICAL PRESENCE REQUIREMENT?

1. No Objection Statement:

Your home country government may issue a No Objection Statement through its embassy in Washington, DC directly to the Waiver Review Division, stating that it has no objection to you not returning to your home country to satisfy the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, and no objection to the possibility of you becoming a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.. The No Objection Statement may also be issued by a designated ministry in your home country’s government and sent to the U.S. Chief of Mission, Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy within that country. The U.S. Embassy would then forward it directly to the Waiver Review Division.

2. Request by an interested U.S. Federal Government Agency:

If you are working on a project for or of interest to a U.S. federal government agency, and that agency has determined that your departure for two years to fulfill the two-year home-country physical presence requirement would be detrimental to its interest, that agency may request an Interested Government Agency Waiver on your behalf. The Interested Government Agency request must be signed by the head of the agency or his or her designee and submitted directly to the Waiver Review Division. Any U.S. federal government agency may request a waiver on this basis.

3. Persecution:

If you believe that you will be persecuted based on your race, religion, or political opinion if you return to your home country, you may apply for a persecution waiver. This waiver basis requires that you submit Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement, directly to USCIS. USCIS will forward its decision directly to the Department of State’s Waiver 79

Review Division. The Waiver Review Division will proceed with the waiver recommendation under this basis only if USCIS makes a finding of persecution.

4. Exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen (or lawful permanent resident) spouse or child of an exchange visitor:

If you can demonstrate that your departure from the U.S. would cause exceptional hardship to your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or child, you may apply for a special hardship waiver. Please note that mere separation from family is not considered to be sufficient to establish exceptional hardship. This waiver basis requires that you submit Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement, directly to USCIS. USCIS will forward its decision directly to the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division. The Waiver Review Division will proceed with the waiver recommendation under this basis only if USCIS makes a finding of exceptional hardship.

5. Request by a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent (Conrad State 30 Program):

If you are a foreign medical graduate who obtained exchange visitor status to pursue graduate medical training or education, you may request a waiver of the two-year home-country physical presence requirement based on the request of a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent, if you meet all of the following criteria. This waiver category is also known as the Conrad State 30 Program. You must:

  • Have an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in a designated health care professional shortage area, or at a health care facility which serves patients from such a designated area;
  • Agree to begin employment at that facility within 90 days of receiving a waiver; and,
  • Sign a contract to continue working at that health care facility for a total of 40 hours per week and for not less than three years.

Review the listing of State Public Health Departments. Each department is allowed to request 30 such waivers per federal fiscal year. 10 of the 30 requests may be for exchange visitor physicians who will serve at facilities which may not be located within a designated health care professional shortage area, but which serve patients who live in such a designated area. The state public health department will forward the Conrad State 30 Program request directly to the Waiver Review Division, if it agrees to sponsor you for such a waiver.

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