The J1 visa for exchange visitors is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of arts, business, education, and sciences. Participants include trainees obtaining on-the-job training with businesses, institutions, and agencies; professional trainees in the medical and allied fields; students at all academic levels; teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools; professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning; research scholars; and international visitors coming for the purpose of travel, observation, consultation, research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs.
Applicants for the J1 visa must have sufficient funds to cover all expenses, or funds must be provided by the sponsoring organization in the form of a scholarship or other stipend. J1 exchange visitors must have sufficient scholastic preparation to participate in the designated program, including knowledge of the English language, or the exchange program must be designed to accommodate non-English speaking participants.
J1 Doctor / Physician / Health Care
J1 exchange visitors coming to the United States for graduate medical education or training must meet certain special requirements. They include having passed the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in Medical Sciences, demonstrating competency in English, being automatically subject to the two year foreign residence requirement, and being subject to time limits on the duration of their program. Doctors coming to the United States on exchange visitor programs for the purpose of observation, consultation, teaching, or research in which there is little or no patient care are not subject to the above requirements.
J1 visa applicants must present a Form DS2019 prepared by a designated sponsoring organization. Please note that as of September 1, 2002, the Form DS2019 will replace the IAP66 as the official form to be used in the administration of the exchange visitor program. The cut-off date for the use of the Form IAP66 is August 31, 2002. Exchange Visitor Program sponsors should use only Form DS2019 to document exchange visitors after August 31, 2002. Forms IAP66 issued and dated prior to August 31 should be accepted by consular officers in support of visa applications.
J1 visa applicants must demonstrate to the consular officer that they have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country which they have no intention of abandoning, and that they are coming to the United States for a temporary period. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since applicants' circumstances vary greatly.
Employment while in J1 exchange visitor status depends upon the terms of the program. Participants in programs which provide for on-the-job training, teaching, research, or other activities, which involve paid employment may accept such employment. Participants in programs which do not involve work may not accept outside employment.
J1 Waiver / Foreign Residency Requirement
Certain J1 exchange visitors who participate in programs which are financed by an agency of the U.S. Government or by the exchange visitor's government, or who are nationals or residents of a country which has been designated by the Exchange Visitor Program as requiring the skills of the exchange visitor, must return to their country of nationality or last residence after completing their program in the United States, and reside there physically for two years before they may become eligible to apply for an immigrant or temporary worker visa.
These individuals may apply for a waiver of the two year foreign residency requirement. There are five statutory bases to apply for a J1 waiver:
1. A no objection statement from your host government;
2. A request from an interested U.S. Government agency on your behalf;
3. A claim that you will be persecuted if you return to your country of residence;
4. A claim of exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child if you are required to return to your country of residence; and
5. A request by a designated State health agency or its equivalent.
J2 Visas / Family Members
The spouse and minor children of participants in exchange programs may apply for derivative J2 dependent visas to accompany or follow to join the principal alien. They must demonstrate that they will have sufficient financial resources to cover all expenses while in the United States. Dependents may apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) for authorization to accept employment in the U.S.
To consult an immigration lawyer regarding the J1 Exchange Visitor Visa, please call us at (212) 947-7534 or e-mail us at Michael@mmlawnyc.com . An attorney in our office would be happy to assist you.