The J-1 visa allows students, scholars, trainees in business and industry, research assistants, teachers, and international visitors on cultural missions come to the U.S. to participate in a variety of informational exchange programs sponsored by schools, businesses, and various organizations and institutions.
J-1 visas can be issued quickly, with approval from one to two days if filed at home consulates, or one to three months if filed in the U.S.
You may work legally in the U.S. if it is part of your program (i.e., trainee in a business) or if you receive permission to work from your program sponsor.
Travel in and out of the U.S. is allowed until the completion of your program.
Visas are also available for immediate family members (i.e., spouse and children).
Immediate family members (spouse and/or unmarried children under 21 years of age) may work in the U.S. under special permission from the CIS and if the money is not needed to support you.
You may only participate in the visitor exchange program under which your visa was approved (e.g., an approved camp counselor cannot participate in an au pair program).
You must be accepted into an USIA-approved program before you can apply for the J-1 visa.
Participants in certain types of programs may be required to return to their home country for a minimum of two years before they are permitted to obtain a green card or change to another nonimmigrant status.
You qualify for a J-1 exchange visitor visa if you fall under one of the following: student, scholar, trainee, teacher, professor, research assistant, medical graduate, international visitor and are participating in a USIA-approved study, research, or cultural enrichment program.
You must already be accepted into the program before applying for a J-1 visa.
- You must be visiting the U.S. to either work, study, teach, train, or observe U.S. culture in an USIA-approved exchange visitor program.
- Acceptance into an USIA-approved exchange visitor program is mandatory before applying for a J-1 visa.
- You must have sufficient funds to adequately cover your expenses while in the U.S.
- A sufficient knowledge of English is required to effectively participate in your program.
- You must intend to return home after your status expires.
The validity of the J-1 Visa program varies according to specific programs:
- Secondary School Students: one year maximum.
- College and University Students: duration of degree program plus an additional 18 months of practical training (the student must apply for this training).
- Foreign Medical Graduate Students: length of time necessary to complete their training program, with a maximum of seven (7) years.
- Other Medically Related Programs (not foreign medical graduates): duration of their education program plus 18 months of practical training, both totaling not more than three (3) years.
- Teachers, Professors, Research Scholars, and People with Specialized Skills: no more than three (3) years.
- International Visitors: one year maximum.
- Business and Industrial Trainees: eighteen month maximum.
- Au Pairs: one year maximum, with no extensions.
- Camp Counselors: four months.