What is a J-1 Visa?

Learning abroad can be an exciting chapter in a student’s life. However, not obtaining the appropriate documentation may pose a severe damper on your plans. Consulting with an expert immigration lawyer may help prevent any undue complications.

J-1 Visas to the USA

The J-1 visa is used by international visitors to enter the United States (U.S.) temporarily for educational or cultural exchange purposes.

The Exchange Visitor Program is carried out under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, as amended, and administered by the Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Exchange Visitor program participants are expected to return to their respective home countries to utilize the skills that they acquire while in the U.S.

The following is a list of the 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.

Each category has specific requirements and regulations. That is best addressed by a skilled immigration attorney.

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 a recognized exchange category. Also, applicants are required to obtain a Form DS-2019 from their sponsor before applying for a J-1 visa.

J-1 visitors must 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). In addition, applicants must demonstrate that they plan to depart the U.S. at the conclusion of their exchange program.

J-1 Visa Employment Authorization

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.

J-1 Visa Foreign Residency Requirements

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

Spouses and Children that Accompany J1 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.

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.

Having a firm grasp of these criteria is monumental in the quality of your stay in the US. Therefore, not having this documentation may result in unforeseen burdens. If you are in need of counseling, Niren and Associates are here to listen.

Contact today for a consultation with one of our Immigration Lawyers in the Boston, MA. area.

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