What Is a US Exchange Visitor (J) Visa?

Immigration is a topic that draws more attention to the different kinds of visas available to citizens in foreign countries. One of the most popular forms is the US Exchange Visitor (J) Visa.

US Exchange Visitor (J) visa (non-immigrant) is for persons eligible to participate in work and study-based exchange visitor programs after which they are to return to their home country.

The program also provides American organizations with a pool of workers to fill the vacuum left by American workers. Recipients of a J-1 visa may arrive 30 days prior and depart 30 days after the program ends after which becomes a violation of the visa terms.

J-1 visa programs are accessible to various categories of workers which include:

  • Alien Physicians
  • Au Pairs
  • Camp Counselors
  • Government Visitors
  • Interns
  • International Visitors
  • Professor and Research Scholars
  • Short-Term Scholars
  • Specialists
  • Students, College/University
  • Students, Secondary School
  • Summer Work Travel
  • Teachers
  • Trainees

Program Requirements And Specifications

The eligibility requirements, duration of visits and opportunity for repeat participation obviously vary by program. Many of the categories like the Summer Work Travel and Au Pair programs require that visa holders be current high school or college students or meet certain age requirements. Others including the Short-Term Scholar, Professor and Research Scholar, Trainee, Specialist, and Alien Physician require a specific academic background, status in their home country, or the demonstration of special skills.

The duration of J-1 visas ranges from as little as one day for a visiting lecturer to seven years for an Alien Physician. Most of the programs allow participants to apply for a repeat visit though for some categories including Trainee, Professor and Research Scholar, Teacher, and Au Pair.

Waiver Programs To Stay In The U.S. Beyond Visa Duration

Program participants subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement must apply for a waiver of that requirement if they want to remain in the United States beyond Visa duration or if they desire to submit an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for a change in visa status. A waiver may be obtained for five statutory bases:

  • A claim of Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child of an exchange visitor if the exchange visitor is demanded to return to the country of residence.
  • A claim that the applicant will be persecuted due to race, religion, or political opinions if he/she returns to the country of residence.
  • A request from an interested U.S. Government Agency on the participant’s behalf.
  • A No Objection Statement from your government.
  • A request by a recognized State Health Department or its equivalent.

How To Apply For A J-1 Visa

The application process is challenging for a long time. For you to apply for a J visa you must first apply, meet the requirements, and be accepted to an exchange visitor program through a recognized sponsor organization.

Applicants are required to directly contact their sponsors so as to take part in one of the exchange programs. Once accepted, the organization will provide the visa application process. Prospective exchange visitors are to apply for the J-1 visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate of their home country using the Form DS-2019 provided to them by their designated sponsor.

If you live and work in the United States through the exchange, you will need to present your visa to employers for you to work in America legally. Your visa should be handy at any times to avoid issues with immigration.

The US Exchange Visitor (J) visa is an enriching opportunity. Workers who have gone through the exchange program are highly demanded by employers for the experience and calibre of education exposed to.