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J1 Visa, Exchange Visitors

Overview: A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for exchange visitors who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.

First step to obtain J-1 Visa is to submit a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange. Visitor Status Program approval must be entered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)

Family: Spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of ageof J1 visa holders could apply for J2 Visa. J2 visa holder are entitled to work authorization in United States. J-2 visitors may enroll in academic programs as recreational or degree-seeking students. students may enroll full- or part-time and discontinue their program at any time.

Period of Stay: J-1 visitors may remain in the United States until the end of their exchange program, as specified on form DS-2019. many J-1 visa holders are required to complete a mandatory two-year home-country physical presence prior to re-entry into the United States.

Green Card intent: dual intent not permitted. Must generally demonstrate to remain only temporarily in the U.S. and will return to their home country.

In fiscal year 2010, USCIS received 380,430 applications for J-1 visa, approved 320,805, denied 59,625, waived or overcome 35,058. USCIS also received 38,725 applications for J-2 visa, approved 32,797, refused 5,928, waived or overcome 5,373.

Visa Type:
  • J-1: exchange visitors
  • J-2: individuals who are the spouse or children

Mandatory home residence requirement
Upon their departure from the United States, many J-1 visa holders are required to complete a mandatory two-year home-country physical presence prior to re-entry into the United States under dual intent visas, such as H1-B. These include those involved in government-funded exchange programs, those who pursued graduate-level education or training and those with specialized knowledge or skills. This mandatory two-year home-country stay can be waived under the following conditions:
  1. No objection statement (NOS) issued by the government of the home country of the J visa holders.
  2. Exceptional Hardship: If a J-1 holder can demonstrate that his or her departure would cause exceptional hardship to his or her U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident dependents.
  3. Persecution: If a J-1 holder can demonstrate that he or she can be persecuted in his or her home country.
  4. Interested Government Agency: A waiver issued for a J-1 holder by a U.S. Federal Government agency that has determined that such person is working on a project for or of its interest and the person's departure will be detrimental to its interest.
  5. Conrad Program: A waiver issued for a foreign medical graduate who has an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in a designated health care professional shortage area or at a health care facility which serves patients from such a designated area.

Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
Schools and programs approved to host students and scholars on an F, J, or M visa are required to report certain information about international visitors in SEVIS. Reporting requirements are established by federal law and vary according to visa type. Information that must be reported includes:
  1. Change of legal name
  2. Change of U.S. address
  3. Change of major field of study
  4. Change of education degree level
  5. Change of funding
  6. Authorization for on-campus employment

In addition, schools and programs are required to report certain events that constitute a violation of the international visitor’s visa status, such as academic suspension, criminal conviction, failure to enroll and unauthorized off-campus employment.

All required information must be reported in SEVIS within 21 days of notification of the change or event. Failure to report information in a timely fashion may result in the loss of the school or program’s certification to host international students and/or scholars.

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