The J-1 visa was established in 1961 as a component of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act. This act was intended to cultivate a cultural exchange between the U.S. and foreign nations. This program creates a means of sponsoring prospective international students for their desire to complete an academic program at a U.S. university or institution and potentially be employed in the U.S. in an occupation related to their field of study after completion of the program.
Individuals Who Qualify
If sponsored through an accredited Exchange Visitor Program, foreign nationals who qualify for J-1 status are allowed to enter the U.S. They must be approved through the DOS (Department of State). Those who are generally qualified are:
- Au Pair
- Camp Counselors
- Students enrolled in a secondary school, college or university
- Government Official on visitation
- U.S. company interns
- International Visitors
- Scholars and Professors
- Medical Specialists
J-1 Visa Requirements
Applicants are required to demonstrate that they reside in their home country and intend on returning to said country upon expiration of their J-1 visa time requirements. Certain J-1 programs require that the J-1 visa holder must return to their home country for a 2 year period following the expiration of their J-1 visa. These requirements may be waived, however in certain circumstances. Supporting documentation to demonstrate their abilities to do so would include assets in their name in their home country (cars, bank accounts, etc.), and proof of immediate family members residing in their home country. They must also provide Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for an Exchange Visitor). Prospective J-1 applicants should take all these factors into consideration before beginning their application process.
An Immigration Attorney Can Help
Despite all the requirements that must be met and the documentation that must be provided, obtaining a J-1 visa need not be too difficult. An experienced immigration attorney has the expertise to guide you through the process to produce a favorable outcome in successfully obtaining a J-1 visa. They can help by advising you on your options for a 2 year return to home country policy and make suggestions after determining whether you will qualify for a waiver. They will also help by managing and maintaining your J-1 visa status and handling any change of status should you require any changes. In addition, they are especially helpful in assisting you in being granted a J-1 visa from your country’s consular.