J Visa Exchange Visitors

J Visa Exchange Visitors


The J-1 visa Exchange Visitor Program welcomes nearly 280,000 visitors each year from outside the United States on 13 different types of cultural exchange programs.


Exchange visitors who come to the U.S. on the J-1 visa classification are authorized for those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.


In carrying out the responsibilities of the Exchange Visitor Program, the Department of State designates public and private entities to act as exchange sponsors.  J-1 nonimmigrants are therefore sponsored by an exchange program that is designated as such by the U.S. Department of State. These programs are designed to promote the interchange or persons, knowledge, and skills, in the fields of education, arts, and science.


Examples of exchange visitors include, but are not limited to:


Professors or scholars

Research assistants





Nannies/Au pairs

Camp counselors

Am I eligible for a J visa to come to the United States?


To qualify for a J-1 visa, you must

  • Falls under one of the J-1 visitor categories (professor, college student, au pair, etc) and
  • be accepted by a designated sponsoring organization.  The Department of State maintains a complete and updated list of all sponsoring J-1 organizations on their J-1 website.  To view the complete list of approved sponsoring organizations, please click here.  [LINK TO http://j1visa.state.gov/participants/how-to-apply/sponsor-search/?program=&state=&x=14&y=8]
  • Have sufficient funds to cover expenses for the trip
  • be fluent in English.
  • Maintain sufficient medical insurance for accidents and illnesses for themselves and any family members in the J-2 category.
  • Have a residence abroad that they have no intention of abandoning.
  • Upon completion of the exchange program, you must return to their home country unless a residency waiver is obtained.


For more detailed information use this link to J visa eligibility requirements, please read more here.  [LINK TO J VISA SPECIFIC REQS]  If you would like more information regarding your J visa or any type of USA nonimmigrant visas, do not hesitate to contact our experienced visa attorneys at JCS Immigration and Visa Services.  [LINK TO CONTACT JCS]

How do I apply for a J visa?


To obtain a J-1 Visa, you need to apply for the visa at a United States embassy or consulate abroad.  Once you have been granted a J-1 visa, you may enter the United States no more than 30 days before the start of their program and be on valid J-1 status.  Part of the application process may include an interview at the embassy consular section.  Applicants who fall in the age range between 14 and 79 years will most likely be interviewed.


The wait time for an interview appointment and visa issuance varies for each country, but information can be found on the State Department website.  For specific information on the wait times you may encounter, please click here.  [LINK TO http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/general/wait-times.html]

How long can I remain in the U.S. on a valid J visa?  Will USCIS allow me to I extend my stay?


The length of your stay in the U.S. as  J-1 visitor depends on the exchange program you participate in to come to the U.S. as well as the category of visitor will determine the duration of your valid stay in the U.S. in J status.  For more detailed information on the duration of visits and possible extensions of your visa status, please read more here.    [LINK TO J VISA DURATION AND EXT.]


What is the two year foreign residence requirement?  Are all J visa visitors subject to that rule?


Certain types of J-1 exchange visitor visas require that the noncitizen visitor return to his or her home country for a period of two years after the completion of the J-1 status visit to the U.S.  Some visitors may be required to stay in the country of his or her last permanent residence instead of the home country.  If you have questions as to whether you are subject to the TWO Year requirement, please feel free to contact our experienced immigration attorneys today.  We offer a free initial consultation and can assist you with all of your immigration and visa needs.  [LINK TO CONTACT JCS]


Is it possible to waive the two year resident requirement?


If you are subject to the two year residence requirement, there are certain circumstances where this requirement can be waived.   For more information on how your two year residency requirement can be waived, please read more here.  [LINK TO TWO YR RES. REQ WAIVERS]



Some J-1 nonimmigrants enter the United States specifically to work (as a researcher, nanny, etc.) while others do not. Employment is authorized for J-1 nonimmigrants only under the terms of the exchange program. Please check with your sponsoring agency for more information on any restrictions that may apply to you working in the United States.


Family of J-1 Visa Holders


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.   For more information on J-2 status, please read more here.  [LINK TO J-2 STATUS]  If you would like assistance on bringing your family to the U.S. with you while you are here on a J-1 visa, please contact our experienced immigration and visa attorneys at our Los Angeles law office.  [LINK TO CONTACT JCS]

I would like to stay in the U.S. as a student.  Will USCIS let me change my visa status?


It is possible to change your status while in the U.S. to a student visa, such as the F-1 visa.  For more information on changing your status from a J visa to an F Visa, please read more here.  [LINK TO J VISA TO F VISA]

Can I obtain a Green Card to become a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. while I am here on my J visa?


The J visa is what is known as a “dual intent visa.”  This means that the holder of a valid J visa may also petition for a green card while here on the J visa.  Many nonimmigrant visas are invalidated if the holder of the visa changes intent or develops an intent to immigrate to the U.S.  A dual intent visa allows the visa holder to retain the valid nonimmigrant visa and still have the option to petition to immigrate.  For more on obtaining a green card while you have a J visa, please read more here.  [LINK TO J VISA TO GC]

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