J Visa USA

The J visa is issued to foreign nationals who seek to come to the U.S. as participants in Exchange Visitor Programs approved by the U.S. Department of State. The J visa program is designed to promote the sharing of knowledge and skills.

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Participants in the program include:    

  1. Professors (5 year maximum period of stay, unless the sponsor is a federally funded research center or U.S. federal laboratory, in which case, an additional 5 year of extension may be permissible).
  2. Research scholars (5 year maximum period of stay, unless the sponsor is a federally funded research center or U.S. federal laboratory, in which case, an additional 5 year of extension may be permissible).
  3. Short-term scholars (6 month maximum period of stay).
  4. Business trainees (18 month maximum period of stay; flight trainees may obtain a 24 month period of stay).
  5. College and university students (duration of their academic programs, plus postgraduate training).
  6. Primary and secondary school teachers (3 year maximum period of stay).
  7. Secondary school students (1 year period of stay).
  8. Specialists (1 year maximum period of stay).
  9. Foreign medical doctors participating in medical internships or residents receiving U.S. training in their field of work.
  10. International visitors (1 year maximum period of stay).
  11. Government visitors (18 month maximum period of stay).
  12. Summer student work/travel programs (usually 4 months maximum period of stay allowed).
  13. Camp counselors (4 month maximum period of stay) and,
  14. Au- pairs (1 year period of stay, but may be extended up to 1 additional year upon electronic request via SEVIS i.e., Student and Exchange Visitor Information System).

Note: The main purpose of the J visa is to allow foreign nationals to gain knowledge and skills from U.S. educational and cultural organizations so that they can be used by the J visa holders in their home country. As such, participants in the J visa program are subject to “two-year foreign residence” requirement i.e., they are allowed to stay in the U.S. for the duration of the program or work and then are required to return to their country of origin. Program participants must stay outside the U.S for at least two years before they can apply for an immigration status or re-enter the U.S.

However, for certain participants a waiver of "two-year foreign residence” may be obtained.

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General Requirements of J Visa

  1. Participants must possess sufficient proficiency in the English language to participate in their programs.
  2. The J visa must be sponsored through an accredited exchange visitor program in the U.S. approved by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). Spouse and children under age 21 may accompany the J-1 visa holder on J-2 visa status.
  3. J visa holders must either have sufficient funds to support themselves and their accompanying family members during their stay in the U.S. or funds must be provided by the U.S. sponsor.
  4. J visa holders can travel in and out of the U.S. freely as long as they have a valid visa.
  5. The J visa holder’s period of stay in the U.S. is based on the exchange visitor category for which the individual has been sponsored. However, the final period of stay is always determined by the officer at the port of entry into the U.S.
  6. J visa holders are allowed entry into the U.S. up to 30 days before the report date/start date of the J visa program. The J visa holder is also allowed a 30 day “grace” period from the completion date of his/her program to facilitate their departure from the U.S.
  7. J visa holders participating in certain exchange visitor programs may apply for a waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement.

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Employment Authorization for J Visa holders

J visa holders are authorized to work in the U.S., but they can only do so for the exchange visitor program sponsor or within specific guidelines approved by the U.S. Department of State. If the J visa holder seeks to work for a non- sponsor, he/she must receive consent to work from their official program sponsors and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Dependents of J visa holders are eligible to work in the U.S. as long as their income is for their own support and utilized to provide financial support to the J visa holder. The J-2 spouse must apply for employment authorization with the USCIS.

There are four situations where a J visa holder may seek employment with a non-sponsor:

  1. J -1 research scholar - J-1 research scholars conducting research at U.S. universities who want to undertake postdoctoral research with an employer that is not the program sponsor may be eligible if they obtain approval from the university.
  2. J -1 short-term scholar - A J-1 short-term scholar can enter the U.S. to lecture, observe, consult, and participate in seminars, workshops, conferences, study tours, professional meetings, and other types of educational and professional activities for a period up to 6 months.
  3. J -1 students who are on practical training - J-1 students are allowed up to 18 months of post graduation practical training related to their academic programs provided they obtain written permission from the university.
  4. J-1 students who show economic necessity - If the J-1 student can demonstrate that he/she has the economic necessity to work, then after obtaining written permission from the university, the J-1 student may seek part-time employment outside the university.

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Our J Visa Service

We are experienced in representing various types of J visa sponsors including individual employees, corporations, partnerships, and not-for-profit organizations.

We also provide post approval support to address any questions or concerns you may have related to the J visa you’ve been granted.

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