What is J-1 visa?
The J-1 visa is for the U.S. to exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange. J-1 applicants must meet eligibility criteria and be sponsored either by a private sector or government program.
Who can apply for J-1 visa?
J-1 visa are often used by:
• Research scholars;
• Short-Term Scholar;
• Government Visitor;
• Alien Physician
• Camp Counselor;
• Au Pair;
• Summer student in travel and work program.
Benefits and Limitations of J-1 visa:
• Dependents of J-1 holders may apply for J-2 visa to enter the U.S.
• J-1 holder may legally work in the U.S. if such work is part of the approved program or otherwise approved by a responsible officer.
• Accompanying spouse and child may apply for employment authorization if it is not for the support of the principal J-1 holder and the spouse is not also a J-1 holder.
• Certain J visa holders are subject to two-year foreign residency. A J visa holder subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement is ineligible to achieve permanent resident status, apply for H or L visa, or to change to other statuses unless the J visa holder returns home and resides in his or her country for 2 years after leaving the U.S., or obtains a waiver.
How to apply for J-1 visa/status?
• If you are not in the United States at this time, you should use forms DS-156, DS-157 and DS-158 to apply for J-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate office.
• If you are currently in the United States and in a status other than J-1, your should use form I-539 to apply for a change of status to the J-1 status; your spouse and children can also apply for dependent J-2 status.
• If you are already in the United States and in the J-1 status and wish to extend the period of stay, your should use form I-539 to apply for the J-1 extension for yourself; Your spouse and children can also apply for dependent J-2 status extensions.
Who are subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement?
In general, the following J-1 holders are subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement:
• The J-1 exchange program was financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the government of the U.S. or by the government of his nationality or last residence;
• At the time of receiving the J-1 status, the J-1 holder was engaging in a field that was on a skill list designated by the U.S. Department of State. An updated 2009 Skill List is maintained at DOL’s website.
• The J-1 holder came to the U.S. or acquired J status after January 10, 1977 to receive graduate medical education or training.
How to waive the two-year foreign residency requirement?
The J visa holder may be able to waive the two-year foreign residency requirement by one of the following ways:
• Proving that the J-1 holder would be subject to persecution on account of race, religion or political opinion.
• Proving that if the J-1 holder leaves the U.S., it would impose exceptional hardship on the J-1 holder’s U.S. citizen or permanent residence spouse or children.
• A no objection letter issued from the government of the J-1 holder’s home country.
• An U.S. agency requests an waiver for the J-1 holder when such a waiver is (i) in public interest; and (ii) the two-year return to the home country is clearly detrimental to a program or activity which is of official interest to that U.S. agency.