J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa

A J1 visa is an exchange visitor non-immigrant visa classification. This visa is for individuals who have been approved to participate in exchange visitor programs that are work and study-based. Because participants in these exchange programs are critical to the success of the program, a J1 visa is available.

J1 Visa Explained

An exchange visitor visa, or a J1 Visa, is available for those individuals who intend to participate in an approved exchange program. The individual may participate in the exchange program for various purposes, including:

  • Teaching, instructing, or lecturing;
  • Studying, observing, or conducting research;
  • Consulting, or demonstrating special skills;
  • Receiving training; or
  • Receiving graduate medical training or education.

The United States Department of State (DOS), the federal agency that carries out the responsibilities of the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP), determines which public and private entities act as exchange sponsors for the program. Thus, individuals seeking a J1 visa must be sponsored by an exchange program designated by the DOS. The purpose of these exchange programs is to promote the exchange of people, knowledge, and skills in various fields including arts, science, and education. 

Examples of J1 visa exchange occupations include, but are not limited to:

  • Professors;
  • Scholars;
  • Research assistants;
  • Students;
  • Teachers;
  • Trainees;
  • Au pairs;
  • Specialists; and
  • Camp counselors. 

Our Dallas exchange visitor lawyer can help guide you through the application process so that you can successfully obtain a J1 visa and come work in the United States.

J1 Visa Application Process

First, you will need a company in the United States to sponsor you for training. In order to obtain a J-1 visa for an employee, a company must either become designated by the Department of State as a J-1 visa program sponsor or initiate an application through an approved third party training sponsor organization.

There are dozens of organizations that are authorized by the Department of State to act as a third party sponsors of J-1 training programs. These organizations review and approve the application and training program of a proposed employer and issue a Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 training. Each of the third party program sponsors has different requirements, filing fees and procedures. Almost all third party sponsor applications require that the employer submit a detailed training program. The training program must spell out in explicit detail the type and chronology of training which will be accomplished, even if it will take place through on-the-job training.

Since the J-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa, applicants must demonstrate that they have a residence abroad which they do not intend to abandon. As is the case with the F-1 student visa or the B-2 visitor visa, applicants for a J-1 visa must prove to the US Consulate that they have strong enough family, economic and social ties to their own country that they will not immigrate to the United States, but will depart the United States when the training program is completed.

Something to Watch out For - The Two Year Home Residence Requirement

Nationals of certain countries who will be obtaining training in areas listed on the Department of State's "skills list" are not allowed to change to any other nonimmigrant status in the US or immigrate to the United States until they have returned to their home country for two years.

Because the DOS plays a fundamental role in administering the exchange program, the first step is to submit a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (“Certificate”) -- known as Form DS-2019. This document is provided to applicants by the sponsoring entity. It is important to work closely with the agency that will be helping you through the exchange process. 

Individuals who are authorized to issue a Certificate are referred as a Responsible Officer (RO) or an Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO). This officer will explain which documents are necessary in order to be successfully issued a Certificate. After you have been given a Certificate, you may apply for a J1 visa. The application is made with the DOS at any United States consulate or embassy. Because the waiting time for an appointment can vary, it is recommended to submit your visa application as soon as possible. Keep in mind, however, that you may not enter the U.S. on a J1 visa more than 30 days before the start of your exchange program. 

Other Considerations

Those who enter the United States on a J1 visa may do so specifically to work, while others are not entering for employment purposes. Whether or not a person may work is specific to the terms of the exchange program, so the best resource for this information is your sponsoring agency. 

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are entitled to the same classification and entitled to work. The income they earn, however, cannot be used to support you.

Dallas Exchange Visitor Lawyer

No matter your circumstances, the experienced Dallas J1 Visa attorney at Pollak PLLC will guide you through each step of this process to ensure a successful result. Call (214) 307-5510 today to schedule an initial consultation.

Our firm provides full-service professional legal advice and representation to help you find an immigration solution to your visa needs. Please contact us to discuss your Immigration options.

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