J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Information
The J-1 EVP was created as part of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (The Fulbright-Hays Act) to allow foreign nationals to reside temporarily in the United States. They participate in various education or training programs to promote cultural exchange and international cooperation, contribute to a peaceful and wealthy life for people on the Earth, and assist in developing friendly, sympathetic, and peaceful relations.
J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is for you, if
- You have signed up with an approved exchange program that focuses on teaching, receiving training, or conducting research (or going to do so);
- You want to be hired by U.S. employers to receive on-the-job training or to take part in an internship;
- You are a foreign student willing to spend a summer working in the United States at seasonal jobs.
How can I get a J-1 Visa?
- Select the program which is right for you.
Every program has requirements, allowed visit duration (from a few weeks to several years), and eligibility. You can try to pre-evaluate checking on the program requirements comparison chart here.
- Find a J-1 sponsor organization
You can find the List of Designated Sponsor Organizations By Country here. Be aware that the sponsors do charge program fees. Fees vary from sponsor to sponsor.
How an immigration attorney and paralegals can help me?
An immigration attorney can guide you through all stages of J-1 visa process: from finding an exchange agency for you or your US employer/trainor to advising you on the J-1 visa application process in the US Consulate abroad. An immigration lawyer can also help in cases when:
- your visa was declined in the past,
- you would like to change your non-immigrant visa status to J-1 inside the US or extend your current J-1 visa status;
- you would like to change your current J-1 visa status to a work visa or green card.
What will our attorney do for you
- We evaluate your chances, find the perfect sponsor organization (J-1 exchange agency) for you and help you and your US employer to apply. We will prepare you for the interview with the sponsor organization. After you are accepted, the program sponsor will issue you a Form DS-2019 – Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status.
- We will help you to pay the governmental fees, such as the I-901 SEVIS fee and USCIS application fee.
- We will fill out your Form DS-160 with the US Department of State, Non-Immigrant Visa Application Form
- After scheduling your interview at the U.S. Embassy (or the U.S. Department of State), we will ensure that you bring all needed documents on the day of your interview and prepare you for the interview
- If you receive financial compensation as part of your J-1 exchange program, we will help to apply for a social security number after your arrival in the U.S. on J-1 visa.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I allowed to bring my family?
Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 are entitled to a J-2 visa and employment authorization. To apply for employment authorization for a J-2 non-immigrant, we will file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
Do I have a grace period to legally stay in the U.S. when my J status expires?
Yes, once your J status expires, you will have a 30-day grace period to stay in the U.S. You cannot travel internationally and re-enter the U.S. or work in the U.S. during the grace period.
Can I transfer from a J-1 to another visa?
Some J-1 exchange programs subject you to INA 212(e) rule – you have to return home for at least two years after your program. To avoid it, your program should not be funded by a government agency. So try to cover the visa fees yourself or ask your employer if you plan to change your status and stay longer. Also, your country and field of activity shouldn’t be on this list.
There is a possibility to waive the 212 rule – contact us if you need help on it!
J-1 Visa for Interns/Trainees
The J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for an exchange visitor wishing to stay temporarily in the U.S. Several programs include interns, trainees, professors or scholars, research assistants, students, teachers, specialists, nannies, au-pairs, and camp counselors. At Stelmakh & Associates LLC, we assist individuals with two of these categories: J-1 Intern visas and J-1 trainees visas. We also help with J-1 waivers.
To apply for a J-1 visa as an intern, you must:
- be at least 18 years old;
- speak English proficiently;
- have a structured internship program in your field of study;
- be enrolled in a university or college outside of the U.S. (or graduated within 12 months of program start);
- have the financial support three times the average monthly rent where you will be living.
J-1 Visa for Interns allows staying in the U.S. for between three weeks and 12 months. Repeat participation in the internship program is possible in the case of the advanced internship at the next degree level.
To apply for a J-1 visa as a trainee, you must:
- have a structured training program in your professional field;
- have a post-secondary degree or certificate from outside of the U.S. plus 1 year of work experience; OR 5 years of work experience;
You can obtain a J-1 Trainee visa in those sectors:
- Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
- Arts and Culture
- Construction and Building
- Education, Social Sciences, Librarianship, Counseling, Social Services
- Hospitality and Tourism
- Journalism and Communication
- Management, Trade, and Finance
- Public Administration and Law
- Science, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics, Industry
The duration of a U.S. visit for trainees is up to 18 months. You can come with the next program after 24 months of residency outside the U.S. There is no age restriction. Still, it may be harder to qualify if you have lots of senior professional experience. Also, your employer should not hire you to do more than 20% clerical work.