J-1 Visa: Visit the US on Cultural or Education Exchange

The J-1 visa offers a unique program for international visitors to temporarily come to the United States for educational or cultural exchange purposes.  Exchange Visitor Program participants would then be able to utilize the skills that they acquire while in the U.S. when they return to their respective home countries.

Since this is a popular program, there is a lot of competition.  With application assistance from an immigration lawyer, you will gain an advantage over other applicants who are attempting the immigration process on their own.  Niren & Associates has extensive experience preparing applications for the Exchange Visitor Program, and we can help you fulfill your requirements for your specific needs.

Contact our Chicago immigration lawyers for J-1 Visa application help

“I would like to thank the staff at Niren & Associates for their service and legal advice.  Thanks for putting up with my anxieties and frustrations with the U.S. Embassy and for your legal guidance in filing all the right documents pertaining to my visa.” – Margarita L.

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; and
  7. Research Scholars.

J-1 Visa Requirements

Each category above has its own specific requirements and regulations, on top of the general requirements.

To qualify for a J-1 visa, all applicants must:

  • be sponsored by an American organization to come to the U.S. as a visitor in a recognized exchange category
  • obtain a Form DS-2019 from their sponsor before applying for a J-1 visa.
  • 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)
  • demonstrate that they plan to depart the U.S. at the conclusion of their exchange program
  • demonstrate that they have compelling social and economic ties abroad which they have no intention of abandoning
  • demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to cover living expenses incurred while in the U.S.

Exchange visitors coming to the U.S. for medical education or training must have passed the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination.

Regarding employment, 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

In the event that certain conditions exist, an exchange visitor is required to have a two-year home country physical presence.  This means that the exchange visitor would not be able to change his/her status to that of H VisaL Visa, K Visa, or lawful US permanent resident until he or she has returned to his/her home country for at least two years or received a waiver of that requirement.

The conditions for the foreign residency requirement are if the exchange visitor:

  • is participating in a program which is directly or indirectly financed in whole or in part by the U.S. government or the government of the exchange visitor; or
  • entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training; or
  • 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.

Waivers of Foreign Residency for J-1 Visa Holders

A waiver of the physical presence requirement may be granted in any one of the following situations:

  • “No Objection” Statement from the visitor’s home government is obtained;
  • The visitor claims that she or he will be persecuted if returned home;
  • A U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child claims that exceptional hardship will result if the visitor returns home;
  • A request is made on behalf of the visitor by an interested U.S. government agency;
  • A request is made on behalf of the visitor by a designated health agency or its equivalent.

Opportunities for 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.

In addition, accompanying family members of the principal applicant must demonstrate that they have sufficient financial resources to cover all expenses while in the U.S.  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.

Contact Our Chicago Immigration Law Office To Make Sure Your Application is Complete

Immigration officers carefully check each application, and if any information is omitted or incorrect, your J-1 visa may be denied.  Instead of worrying about whether you’ve crossed every “t” and dotted every “i”, leave the complicated paperwork to our professional attorneys.

Contact our Chicago immigration lawyers for J-1 application help today