Here are some of the most common questions that we receive about J-1 visas. For more in-depth and specific information about J-1 visas, please contact us to schedule a consultation or an assessment. 

Who sponsors a J-1 Visa? 

The Department of State (DOS) administers work- and study-based exchange visitor programs and designates the sponsors. On the official J-1 visa website, you can search for designated sponsors for the specific exchange programs.

What are some of the J-1 Visa Exchange Programs?

You can get a J-1 Visa as an Au Pair, Camp Counselor, Student, Intern, Physician, Professor, Research Scholar, and more. You can learn about the different exchange programs on the Department of State website

What are the J-1 Visa requirements?

Each J-1 Visa program has unique requirements for its participants, so you must look at the individual program. All J-1 visas require foreign nationals to submit the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (Form DS-2019), a Training/Internship Placement Plan (Form DS-7002), and an Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (Form DS-160), a valid passport, and any additional documentation or information required by the program the applicant is applying to or by the US Embassy. 

Can a J-1 Visa holder work in the U.S.?

It depends. High school or secondary school students and international visitors are not authorized to work, but officers may authorize other J-1 students for part-time on-campus employment if they meet certain requirements. Responsible officers may also authorize J-1 students for a maximum of 18 months (or, for Ph.D. students, a maximum of 36 months) of practical training during or immediately after their studies. J-1 practical training includes paid off-campus employment and/or unpaid internships that are part of the student’s program of study. Their responsible officer must authorize employment in writing for practical training. Special rules apply to student interns. Employment for other J-1 exchange visitors is sometimes job- and site-specific or limited to a few months.

Can J-1 visa holders get visas for family members?

Yes, spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age are eligible to accompany a J-1 exchange visitor on a J-2 dependent visa. Each dependent must be sponsored for a J-2 Visa and must have his or her own DS-2019 form issued by the exchange program.

Can a J-1 Visa holder apply for a Green Card?

Yes, J-1 Visa holders can apply for a Green Card if they are eligible for a Green Card based visa. However, depending on the specific J-1 Visa program, the applicant may have a 2 year back home foreign residency requirement that they must complete before they can be in the U.S. as a Green Card holder, unless they get a waiver.

Are there any restrictions for J-1 visa holders?

Yes, when applying for a change of status or Green Card, even if the Visa holder meets all of the requirements for another visa or a Green Card, some J-1 Visa holders are subject to a two-year foreign residency requirement where they must return home and be physically present in their home country for two years before they can apply for another visa or the Green Card. It is important to check to see if this restriction applies to your Visa Exchange Program. The J-1 Visa does not allow the visa holder to have “immigrant intent.” This means that at the time you applied for the J-1 Visa, you had to prove that you had the intent to return to your home country after your program ended. Therefore, you will either have to demonstrate that you didn’t have immigrant intent when you applied but that your circumstances changed, and apply for a waiver if you are unable to meet the two-year foreign residency requirement. 

Are there any waivers for the J-1 Visa two year foreign residency requirement?

Yes, there are some waivers available for some of the exchange programs, such as the one for physicians. You must look up the individual program for any available waivers and receive the waiver before you can change status to another visa or apply for a Green Card.

When is a J-1 Visa Holder Subject to the Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement?

The J-1 Visa holder must return home for two years after the end of their program if: 1) their program is a government funded exchange program, 2) they entered the U.S. to receive graduate medical education or training, or 3) they are a national or permanent resident of a country where the field of specialized skill or knowledge is considered necessary to the development of the country.

If you would like more information about the J-1 visa, please contact us for an assessment.


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