The duration of stay for J-1 visa holders depends on the visitor exchange program. There are maximum duration limits for each J-1 category. The categories and the duration of stay are as follows:
- College professors: 36 months
- Research scholars: 36 months
- Teachers (primary and secondary schools): 36 months
- Flight aviation program trainees: 24 months
- Business trainees: 18 months
- Students: College and university students are provided 18 months of training period in case of baccalaureate/masters degree and post-doctoral students are provided a period of 36 months.
- Government and international visitors: 12 months
- Au pair: 12 months
- Summer work: 4 months
The J-1 visa can be extended by the original J-1 sponsor who issued the Form IAP-66. A new IAP-66 has to be completed in order to extend the duration of stay in the U.S. In this case, the sponsor must notify the DOS regarding the extension. There is no need to notify the USCIS. Extension is possible only if the duration falls within the maximum duration of stay for that particular category.
For professors and researchers, a special extension is applicable for a duration of 6 months, even after completing the three years of maximum duration. If the sponsor requires the professor or the researcher to stay in the U.S. for an additional period, they can do so upon their own discretion. This does not require approval from the DOS or USCIS. Professors and researchers can also apply for an extension period through the DOS. This must be done 90 days prior to the expiration of the three-year period of stay.
Contact our office today to speak with a lawyer to learn more about your options and to begin the visa application process.
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Who should I contact if I have concerns about the health or safety of a participant?
Can I apply for an extension?
How can I apply for a waiver of the two-year home-country physical presence requirement?
Can I participate in another Exchange Visitor program after finishing my current program?
My visa has expired during the program.
What do I do?
How long does it take to obtain a Exchange Visitor Visa?
What documents are needed to apply for an Exchange Visitor Visa?
Where do I obtain a DS-2019?
Where do I apply for an exchange visitor visa?
How do I know if I am subject to the two-year home-country foreign residency requirement?
Who should I contact about changing my visa status while I am in the United States?
Do I need a sponsor?
What is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)?
Individuals planning to participate in a work and study based exchange visitor program in the United States must apply for a J1 visa. When applying for a J1 visa, applicants must first select an exchange visitor program and determine their eligibility for that J1 visa program. The J1 visa application involves completing Form DS-2019 and sending the appropriate filing fees. For the complete details on how to get a J1 visa, read the following steps for the J1 visa application process below.
J1 Visa Application Process
Step 1: Choose an Exchange Visitor Program
The first step of how to apply for a J1 visa is to choose a J1 exchange visitor program. There are multiple exchange visitor programs, which include the following J1 visa programs.
- Au Pair
- Camp Counselor
- College and University Student
- Government Visitor
- International Visitor
- Professor & Research Scholar
- Secondary school Student
- Short Term Scholar
- Summer Work Travel
Step 2: Determine Eligibility
Once you select your J1 visa program, but before you apply for a J1 visa, you should determine your eligibility for that program. There are different J1 visa eligibility criteria depending on the program, but all programs require that the participant fulfill an English Language proficiency test such as TOFEL, IBT, IELTS, PTE, TOEIC, CAE, or CPE. When applying for J1 visa, applicants should remember that they must have medical insurance for themselves and their dependents on J2 visa.
In short, anyone applying for J1 visa must have the following in order to be eligible for an exchange visitor program in the US.
- Proficiency in the English language; and
- J1 health insurance.
Sponsors are responsible for providing pre-arrival information and a post-arrival orientation for all participants, as well as ensuring that their program is consistent with the J1 program category.
Step 3: Find a Sponsor
Once the participant chooses from one of the above programs, he/she needs to contact a designated sponsor. A designated sponsor is a state department approved sponsor who is authorized to supervise the application process, they also stand as a single point of contact for participants willing to apply for J1 visa. J1 visa applicants can choose different state department designated sponsors on the basis of their program and choice of the state they wish to travel to in Unites States. For example, an applicant can choose an Intern program in the state of Illinois from the listed sponsors and contact them.
Step 4: Complete Form DS-2019
A program sponsor will review the application of the J1 visa applicant and issue Form DS-2019 to prospective applicants selected for the J1 visa program. Form DS-2019 consists of detailed information such as:
- Participant identification
- Sponsor identification
- Brief description of the program activity to be completed by participant
- Duration of stay including the start and end dates of program
- Category of exchange
- Estimated cost of the exchange program
Participants should bring Form DS-2019 to the US Embassy or Consulate they are visiting to obtain their J1 Visa.
Step 5: Pay Application Fees
There are three kinds of J1 visa application fees participants must provide when applying for J1 visa.
- Program Fee: The program fees vary from sponsor to sponsor. This fee is excluded for federally funded programs.
- SEVIS Fee: Post acceptance into a program, sponsor will issue Form DS-2019. The sponsor will inform the participant if he/she needs to pay separate SEVIS fee or if it is included in the program fee. If the sponsor has paid on the behalf of applicant, then the applicant will receive a receipt confirming payment.
- Visa Fee: A nonimmigrant visa processing fee is charged at the US Embassy or Consulate, which may vary from time to time.
J1 Visa Required Documents
J1 applicants for all J1 exchange visitor programs must submit the following documents with their applications.
- DS-2019 Form, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status. Form DS-2019 briefly describes the exchange visitor program and allows the J1 applicant to schedule an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate in their country.
- Form DS-7002, Training/Internship Placement Plan, for J1 visa trainee and intern applicants.
- Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application.
- Passport valid for travel to the United States. Passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the end date of the applicant’s intended stay in the US.
Additional documentation may be required, so be sure to check the US Embassy website for your specific requirements.
J1 visa applicants must also demonstrate ties to their home country, showing the US Embassy or Consulate that they have no intention to stay in the US after the completion of their exchange visitor program. Specific evidence for this requirement varies depending on the applicant.
J1 Visa Interview
Applicants ages 14 to 79 are required to interview at a US Embassy or Consulate. J1 visa applicants should submit their visa application early, since the wait time for a visa interview appointment can take a while.
Some exchange visitors with J-1 visas are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement. It requires you to return home for at least two years after your exchange visitor program. This requirement is part of U.S. law, in the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212(e). If you cannot return home for two years, you must apply for a waiver. The Department of Homeland Security must approve your waiver before you can change status in the United States or receive a visa in certain categories.
Eligibility for a Waiver
Select Eligibility Information about J-1 exchange visitors are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement and whether a waiver is available to you.
Instructions and the J-1 Waiver Recommendation Application
Select Instructions and Online DS-3035 to learn more and access the online form to request a recommendation for a waiver from the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division.
Before you apply – More information
After you apply – Status Check and Contact Updates
Select J Visa Waiver Online to change your address or contact information and to check the status of your waiver.
There are different types of visas available to citizens of countries other than the United States. One of the most common visas is the U.S. Exchange Visitor (J-1) Visa. U.S. Exchange Visitor (J-1) non-immigrant visas are for individuals approved to participate in work and study-based exchange visitor programs.
The Purpose of the J-1 Visa
The J-1 visa enables foreign nationals from over 200 different countries to visit the United States to experience life in the U.S., with the objective of returning to their home countries with an appreciation of other cultures, languages, and ways of life.
The Trump administration has suspended foreign worker visas through December 31, 2020. There are some exemptions, and workers currently in the U.S. are not impacted by the suspension.
The program also serves to supply American organizations with a pool of workers to meet employment needs not adequately addressed by American workers.
The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program provides opportunities for about 300,000 foreign visitors from 200 countries and territories per year. Those visa holders served mostly in the hospitality industry and as camp counselors, positions where it is difficult to find enough U.S. workers.
If approved, recipients of a J-1 visa can remain in the U.S. for the duration of their program, plus they may arrive 30 days prior and depart 30 days after the program ends. Any time before or after those guidelines is considered a violation of the visa terms.
Exchange Visitor Program Benefits
The U.S. Exchange Visitor (J-1) visa is an opportunity for outside citizens to enter the United States for an enriching learning experience. Workers who have gone through the exchange program are highly sought after by employers for the perspective and education they received overseas.
Types of J-1 Visa Programs
J-1 visa programs are available for several categories of workers, including:
- Alien Physicians
- Au Pairs
- Camp Counselors
- Government Visitors
- International Visitors
- Professor and Research Scholars
- Short-Term Scholars
- Students, College/University
- Students, Secondary School
- Summer Work Travel
J-1 Visa Program Requirements and Specifications
The eligibility requirements, duration of visits, and opportunity for repeat participation vary significantly by program:
- Many of the categories such as the Summer Work Travel and Au Pair programs require that visa holders be current high school or college students or meet certain age requirements.
- Others, including the Short-Term Scholar, Professor and Research Scholar, Trainee, Specialist, and Alien Physician require a specific academic background, status in their home country, or the demonstration of special skills.
Applying for a J-1 Visa
The application process is rigorous and can be time-consuming. In order to apply for a J-1 visa you must first apply, meet the requirements, and be accepted to an exchange visitor program through a designated sponsor organization.
A list of sponsoring organizations is available online, and applicants need to contact the sponsors directly to take part in one of the exchange programs. Once you have been accepted by a sponsor, the organization will assist with the visa application process. Prospective exchange visitors apply for the J-1 visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country using the Form DS-2019 issued to them by their designated sponsor.
If you live and work in the United States during the exchange, you will need to show your visa to employers to ensure you can work in America legally.
Your visa should be on you at all times to avoid any misunderstandings or issues with immigration.
How Long Visa Holders Can Stay in the U.S.
The duration of J-1 visas ranges from as little as one day for a visiting lecturer to seven years for an Alien Physician. Participants in summer options like Camp Counselor and Summer Work Travel are covered by four-month J-1 visas. Others are approved for one to three year stays in programs such as Trainee, Intern, Au Pair, Specialist, and Teacher.
Some of the programs allow participants to apply for a repeat visit.
However, for some categories including Trainee, Professor and Research Scholar, Teacher, and Au Pair, this requires applicants to reside outside the United States for a period up to 24 months unless they are approved for a waiver.
Waiver Programs to Stay in the U.S.
Program participants who are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement must apply for a waiver of that requirement if they seek to remain in the United States beyond the end date of their programs or if they seek to submit an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for a change in visa status. A waiver may be requested for five statutory bases:
- A claim of Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child of an exchange visitor if the exchange visitor is required to return to the country of residence.
- A claim that the participant will be persecuted due to race, religion, or political opinions if he/she returns to the country of residence.
- A request from an interested U.S. Government Agency on the participant’s behalf.
- A No Objection Statement from your government.
- A request by a designated State Health Department or its equivalent.
The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. Federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect the most recent changes to the law.
Do you have a new Intern or Trainee program starting soon? J-1 Visa holders are eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN), and we encourage obtaining one! J-1 participants will need an SSN in order to get paid by their host company. Even if the program is unpaid, it can be helpful to have. Participants and hosts should discuss in advance whether this is a required by the company, or to receive compensation.
The process for obtaining an SSN is simply, however, there are a number of steps involved, so it takes time. You will need to anticipate and plan accordingly. J-1 participants may arrive in the U.S. up to 30 days before the program start date and they may use this time to apply for the SSN.
How does a J-1 holder obtain a Social Security Number?
In order to obtain an SSN, the J-1 participant must take the following steps:
1.Visa Validation. Upon arrival to the U.S., participants must send us their U.S. residential address via our website. We will then use this information to validate their visa within the government SEVIS database within two business days. J-1 holders cannot successfully apply for an SSN until their visa has been validated.
2.Social Security Office Appointment. The participant will then need to visit a local Social Security Office with all required documentation to apply. It is advised that the participant applies for the SSN no less than 10 days after entry to the U.S. and 48 hours after providing Cultural Vistas with the required information to validate their visa. This is to ensure that all databases have adequate time to communicate with one another. Applying before this time may result in further delays. To apply, the participant will need to take the following documents to their nearest Social Security Office:
- Form SS-5: The SSN application form–can be downloaded from the Social Security website.
- Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility)
- Letter of Sponsorship (printed from their approval email sent by Cultural Vistas)
- I-94 Record Printout: The admission number and electronic I-94 can be accessed online for the duration of the J-1 program here. Participants should click on “Get Most Recent I-94” to save and print their I-94 travel record. This should list their most recent entry into the U.S.
- Passport with J-1 visa
- Form DS-7002 (Official Training Plan)
- Offer letter from host company (if available)
3.Wait. It may take over 2 weeks to receive the SSN, which will be mailed to the address provided on the Form SS-5.
Do J-1 participants need an SSN to begin the program?
No! Please read the guidance from the Social Security Administration on this topic. Participants can be added to their host organization’s payroll without an SSN. They can show the receipt of having applied for the card, and/ or the host organization will be able to use a “dummy number” to enroll them on the payroll until they get their number. Participants must give their host organization their Social Security Number (listed on the card they receive) as soon as they receive it.
As a reminder, participants should not be classified as independent contractors.
Social / Search – EN
Routine visa services remain suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines continues to operate with reduced staffing.
As conditions surrounding the COVID-19 situation improve, the Embassy will add additional services, culminating eventually in a complete resumption of routine visa services. The Embassy cannot predict when the resumption of full visa services, or a specific category of visa classes, will occur.
Immigrant Visa (IV): The Embassy continues to have a significant backlog of all categories of immigrant visas. We are using a tiered approach to triage immigrant visa applications, based on the category of immigrant visa, as we resume and expand processing. While we are scheduling limited appointments within all four priority tiers every month, the following lists the main categories of immigrant visas in priority order:
- Tier One: Immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases (cases where the applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age), and certain Special Immigrant Visas (SQ and SI for Afghan and Iraqi nationals working with the U.S. government).
- Tier Two: Immediate relative visas; fiancé(e) visas; and returning resident visas.
- Tier Three: Family preference immigrant visas and SE Special Immigrant Visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad.
- Tier Four: All other immigrant visas, including employment preference and diversity visas.
Nonimmigrant Visa (NIV): The Embassy continues to prioritize travelers with urgent (i.e. matter of life and death) travel needs, foreign diplomats, and certain mission-critical categories of travelers, such as those coming to assist with the U.S. response to the pandemic, followed by students and exchange visitors (F-1, M-1, and J-1) and temporary employment visas (H-1B, H-2B, and L nonimmigrants). Visa appointments and processing for B1/B2 (Business/Tourist) remain suspended, with the exception of interview waiver renewals.
We understand that many visa applicants have paid the visa application processing fee and are still waiting to schedule a visa appointment. The Embassy will extend the validity of your payment (known as the MRV fee) until September 30, 2022, to allow all applicants who were unable to schedule a visa appointment as a result of the suspension of routine consular operations an opportunity to schedule and/or attend a visa appointment with the already paid fee.
- NIV Expedite Appointment Requests: Expedite requests for emergency travel may be submitted via our website at http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/ph/ph-niv-visaapply.asp. Please note that the applicant will need to book a regular appointment through our appointment system before requesting an expedited appointment through http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/ph/ph-niv-expeditedappointment.asp.
- NIV Interview Waiver: The interview waiver program has been extended. Information is available at https://ph.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-updates/.
Visa Scheduling: After we resume visa processing, which will be confirmed on our website at https://ph.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-updates, applicants can reschedule the first available visa interview appointment slot by phone at (+632) 7792-8988 or (+632) 8548-8223, or through our online appointment system at http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/ph/. There is no fee to change an appointment. After routine visa processing resumes, if you have difficulties rescheduling a pending consular appointment, applicants may send an email to [email protected] for specific guidance.
- Scheduling, case status, passport delivery, and other questions can be directed to [email protected]
- Case-Specific Inquiry on an Immigrant Visa: https://ph.usembassy.gov/visas/immigrant-visas/immigrant-visa-inquiry-form/
- Case-Specific Inquiry on a Nonimmigrant Visa: https://ph.usembassy.gov/visas/nonimmigrant-visas/nonimmigrant-visa-inquiry-form/
- For Seafarer concerns: [email protected]
The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. As a visa applicant, you will need to establish that you meet all requirements to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.
See our Directory of Visa Categories on usvisas.state.gov to determine which visa category might be appropriate for your purpose of travel to the United States.
Presidential Proclamation on Novel Coronavirus: Entry of aliens who were present in China, excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, within 14 days prior to their arrival at the port of entry in the United States is suspended, per Presidential Proclamation. If you reside in China, have traveled to China recently, or intend to travel to China prior to your planned trip to the United States, we recommend you postpone your visa interview appointment until 14 days subsequent to your departure from China.
Travel to the United States on a temporary basis, including tourism, temporary employment, study and exchange.
Some of the wide known J-1 programs include– Intern Program, Trainee Program, College and University Student Program, Professor and Research Scholar Program, Teacher Program, Government Visitor Program, Camp Counselor and Au pair etc.
A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa provided by the United States to students and professionals who engage in exchange programs. All applicants must meet the eligibility criteria and be funded by either a university, private sector or a government program.
J-1 visa holders can travel in and out of the US as much as they like and in some cases, they may be allowed to work in the US.
Some of the wide known J-1 programs include– Intern Program, Trainee Program, College & University Student Program, Professor and Research Scholar Program, Teacher Program, Government Visitor Program, Camp Counselor and Au pair etc.
The length of your stay in the US depends on the type of program you are enrolled in. For example, those pursuing academic study may get a visa for up to three years, while camp counselors will only get a 3-month stay.
Some perks of J-1 visa holders is that they can apply for a different visa within the US and their spouses and unmarried children under 21 may accompany them to US under a J-2 (dependents’) visa. J-1 holder’s family members can study, travel in and out of the country and they may work after securing a relevant work permit.
Step by step procedure on how to apply for a J-1 visa
1. Find a J program sponsor: You need to find a designated sponsor to accept you into their program. Your sponsor can also help you with how to apply for a J-1 visa.
2. Complete the DS-2019 form: This form is an official document used by the US State Department to allow you to have an interview with the US embassy or consulate. If your spouse or child(ren) are going to accompany you, they will also be given a separate DS-2019 form. Your designated sponsor will issue this form which will have a summary of the exchange program, including the start and end date, as well as the program cost.
3. Paying fees: You will need to pay a SEVIS 1-901 fee to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as part of your J-1 visa application. There is a chance that your sponsor might pay for you if the fee is included with the program fee. If that is the case, you will get a receipt confirming the payment.
The Nonimmigrant Visa Application Processing Fee is another fee that you will be expected to pay, which is $160. People who are part of a program with the US government, State Department, US International Development Agency (USAID), or a federally funded educational and cultural exchange program are excluded from the Nonimmigrant Visa Application Processing Fee.
4. Interview with a US Embassy or Consulate: The final approval for your J-1 visa application is given by a US Embassy or a Consulate. During the interview, you will be asked about your program and how you will support yourself. It is crucial to state that you intend on returning to your home country once your program ends.
List of documents you need to submit to the US Embassy or Consulate:
- DS-2019 Form, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status
- DS-7002 Form, A Training/Internship Placement Plan (for exchange visitor trainees or intern visa applicants)
- Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application
- A passport valid for travel to the US with validity six months after the intended period of stay in the US
- One 2×2 photograph
Additional documentation may be required, so be sure to check the US Embassy website for your specific requirements.
Can a J-1 visa holder apply for Green Card?
J-1 visa holders are technically not eligible for a US green card because it is not considered a “dual intent” visa, which is a nonimmigrant visa that allows holders to pursue a green card without jeopardizing their nonimmigrant status. However, it is not impossible to apply for a green card. A J-1 visa holder has to first check its eligibility. If you are eligible for the green card, then there are some ways for you to file an immigrant visa petition without violating your current status. The transition process won’t be easy but you can try your best with a help of an experienced immigration attorney.