As you know, getting a U.S. visa is not always an easy task. However, with the right immigration team, you will be better equipped to obtain the visa. The J-1 visa is reserved for anyone outside of the US who wishes to take part in a study- or work-related exchange program in America.
The J-1 visa has 15 categories of eligible roles and/or program types:
⦁ Au Pair
⦁ Camp Counselor
⦁ College and University Student
⦁ Secondary School Student
⦁ Government Visitor
⦁ International Visitor
⦁ Research Scholar
⦁ Short-Term Scholar
⦁ Summer Work Travel
When you apply for a J-1 student visa under the College and University Student Program category, you can study at a college or university in the US and remain in the country for the duration of your course or degree program.
The duration of your stay in the US on a J-1 student visa depends on the program you choose to pursue. For example, if your J-1 visa is for a Camp Counselor program, you likely will have a short stay in the US (e.g., four months, over the summer), whereas Au Pair and Research Scholar programs could require J-1 visas that are valid for several years in the US.
Many J-1 visa holders are required to return to their home country after graduation and live there for at least two years to satisfy the exchange program. You will only be allowed to return to the US after fulfilling this requirement. In the case of emergency or special circumstances related to returning to your home country, this requirement may be waived, but an application does need to be filed in order to request it.
J-1 Visa Requirements
⦁Passport. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after you depart from the country unless specific exemptions depend on where you are from.
⦁ Photograph. You must submit your photograph when you complete the visa application form online.
⦁ Nonimmigrant visa application form. You have to fill in form DS-160 online and bring the confirmation page to the embassy/consulate.
⦁ Visa fee receipt. If you are required to pay the visa fee before your interview, bring your receipt.
⦁ Form DS- 2019. After you are accepted into your exchange program, your sponsor registers you into SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). Afterward, you will receive this DS form, and you may be required to pay a form fee- you have to check with your program sponsor since they might cover the expenses.
⦁ Form DS- 7002. If you’re a participant in the J-1 trainee and intern categories, you will also need this form.
⦁ J1 visa health insurance. You must have health insurance coverage, and it is the sponsor’s responsibility to ensure that you have purchased one.
Please keep in mind that other documents may sometimes be required depending on your specific circumstances.
J1 Visa Process
Getting a J1 visa is a multistep process. The following is the general application process, followed by a more detailed explanation of each step. Please be aware the process can vary depending on your program and sponsor. An immigration lawyer, including myself or another team member, can help you through this.
⦁ Find a J1 Sponsor
⦁ Apply for the Form DS-2019
⦁ Complete Form DS-160
⦁ Set up an interview with the embassy/consulate.
⦁ Pay the application fee.
⦁ Prepare your required documents.
⦁ Attend your visa interview.
⦁ Enter the United States.
Benefits of the J-1 Visa
There are several benefits to getting a J-1 visa. Here are just a few:
1. You can gain experience in the United States.
The J1 allows foreign nationals to gain experience. You can work in a wide range of fields. The J1 provides an opportunity for foreign nationals to improve their English. You can also learn about American culture and learn relevant career skills.
2. Your dependent spouse and children are eligible to come to the U.S.
Most programs under the J1 visa allow dependents (unmarried children under the age of 21 and your spouse) to come with you in J2 status. People with J2 visas are eligible to work after an Employment Authorization Document. However, please be aware that au pairs, camp counselors, secondary school students, and those conducting summer work travel are generally not eligible to bring dependents with them.
Can You Work in the US with a J-1 Visa – as a student?
The answer is – Yes, you can! J-1 students are permitted to work while studying as long as they obtain work authorization. Now, there are certain restrictions, such as only working part-time on campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week. However, students are permitted to work full time during academic breaks.
J1 Special Programs
There are several special programs under the J1 Visa. These are just two examples:
1. Korean Nationals Internship Program:
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs established the WEST program, which is the Work, English, Study, and Travel program. Here, Korean university students and recent graduates can spend 18 months in the United States to study English.
2. Irish Nationals Internship Program:
The Department of State established the Intern Work and Travel (IWT) Program for Irish nationals. This program is for 12 months to participate in internships and travel.
Two-Year Home Residence Requirement
Some J1 participants and their dependents must return to their home country for two years after completing their program. Additionally, those seeking new visa status may be subject to this requirement. You can ask for a waiver of this two-year requirement for specific reasons such as, attesting to a significant negative impact that can be demonstrated, or showing that you would face persecution if you had to satisfy the requirement.
Overall, The J1 visa allows individuals to visit the United States as exchange visitors and participate in programs such as au pairs, camp counselors, college or university students, government visitors, interns, international visitors, physicians, professors, research scholars, secondary school students, short-term scholars, specialists, summer work travel, teachers, or trainees, and the list could go on.
You should now have a much stronger understanding of the various aspects of the J1 visa, including the J1 visa benefits, the J1 visa requirements, and the J1 visa process.
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