What Is a J-1 Visa?
A J-1 nonimmigrant visa allows foreign citizens to enter the U.S. to participate in an exchange program to promote the sharing of knowledge and skills in education, arts, and sciences. Examples of exchange visitors include, but are not limited to: Professors or scholars, Research assistants, Students, Trainees, Teachers, Specialists, Nannies/Au pairs, Camp counselors.
Who qualifies for a J-1 visa?
To be eligible for a J-1 visa, you must do the following:
- Be coming to work, study, teach, train, or consult in a specific exchange program approved by the Department of State (DOS),
- have been accepted into the program,
- have enough financial ability to cover expenses in the U.S., and
- have sufficient knowledge of English to participate in the program.
What are the benefits of applying under this visa category?
You may enter the U.S. up to 90 days before your authorized program begins. Also, while on J-1 status, you can study part-time, as long as it does not interfere with your program. J-1 dependents may also obtain work authorization as long as employment is not used to support the principal J-1. The duration of stay varies based on the type of program you will be participating in.
Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, are entitled to J-2 classification. Your spouse and children are entitled to work authorization; however, their income may not be used to support you.
How can an attorney help in this process?
Once you enter the U.S. on J-1, and decide you wish to return, change status, you may need to apply for a waiver to the 2-year home residency requirement. Waivers are granted based on discretion of adjudication officers; therefore they should be prepared with care. An attorney will be able to ensure the necessary documentation is provided in a waiver application, and is able to assess the chances that a waiver will be successful.