A J-1 visa
is a non-immigrant visa
A visa is a document showing that a person is authorized to enter the territory for which it was issued, subject to permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry. The authorization may be a document, but more commonly it is a stamp endorsed in the applicant's passport...
issued by the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
to exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange, especially to obtain medical or business training within the U.S. All applicants must meet eligibility criteria and be sponsored either by a private sector
In economics, the private sector is that part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is run by private individuals or groups, usually as a means of enterprise for profit, and is not controlled by the state...
or government program.
Duration of stay
J-1 visitors may remain in the United States until the end of their exchange program, as specified on form DS-2019. Once a J-1 visitor's program ends, he or she may remain in the United States for an additional 30 days, often referred to as a "grace period," in order to prepare for departure from the country.
The minimum and maximum duration of stay are determined by the specific J-1 category under which an exchange visitor is admitted into the United States.
As with other non-immigrant visas, a J-1 visa holder and his or her dependents are required to leave the United States at the end of the duration of stay.
Mandatory home residence requirement
Upon their departure from the United States, many J-1
visa holders are required to complete a mandatory two-year home-country physical presence prior to re-entry into the United States under dual intent
Dual intent is a United States immigration law concept. It generally refers to the fact that certain U.S. visas allow foreigners to be temporarily present in the U.S. with lawful status and immigrant intent. This allows those visa holders, particularly H-1B professionals, to enter the U.S...
visas, such as H1-B. These include those involved in government-funded exchange programs, those who pursued graduate-level education or training and those with specialized knowledge or skills. This mandatory two-year home-country stay can be waived under the following conditions:
- No objection statement (NOS) issued by the government of the home country of the J visa holders.
- Exceptional Hardship: If a J-1 holder can demonstrate that his or her departure would cause exceptional hardship to his or her U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident dependents.
- Persecution: If a J-1 holder can demonstrate that he or she can be persecuted in his or her home country.
- Interested Government Agency: A waiver issued for a J-1 holder by a U.S. Federal Government agency that has determined that such person is working on a project for or of its interest and the person's departure will be detrimental to its interest.
- Conrad Program: A waiver issued for a foreign medical graduate who has an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in a designated health care professional shortage area or at a health care facility which serves patients from such a designated area.
Electronic records on J-1 visitors and their dependents are maintained in SEVIS
Sévis is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.-Geography:A farming village situated in the Pays de Bray, some south of Dieppe, at the junction of the D48 and D15 roads.-Population:...
by their program sponsor. J-1 visitors must report certain information, such as a change in legal name or a change of address, within 10 days. Failure to report this information is considered a violation of the J-1 visitor's immigration status and may result in the termination of his or her exchange program.
Different categories exist within the J-1 program, each defining the purpose or type of exchange. While most J-1 categories are explicitly named in the federal regulations governing the J-1 program, others have been inferred from the regulatory language.
Private sector programs:
- Alien Physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...
- Au Pair
An au pair is a domestic assistant from a foreign country working for, and living as part of, a host family. Typically, au pairs take on a share of the family's responsibility for childcare as well as some housework, and receive a small monetary allowance for personal use...
- Camp Counselor [Summer camp
Summer camp is a supervised program for children or teenagers conducted during the summer months in some countries. Children and adolescents who attend summer camp are known as campers....
Internship is a system of onthejob training for white-collar jobs, similar to an apprenticeship. Interns are usually college or university students, but they can also be high school students or post graduate adults seeking skills for a new career. They may also be as young as middle school or in...
- Student, Secondary School
Secondary school is a term used to describe an educational institution where the final stage of schooling, known as secondary education and usually compulsory up to a specified age, takes place...
A teacher or schoolteacher is a person who provides education for pupils and students . The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing, carried out at a school or other place of formal education. In many countries, a person who wishes to become a teacher must first obtain specified professional...
- Flight Training
Flight training is a course of study used when learning to pilot an aircraft. The overall purpose of primary and intermediate flight training is the acquisition and honing of basic airmanship skills....
(J-1 privileges to be terminated effective June 1, 2010)
Government and academic programs:
- Government Visitor
- International Visitor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...
and Research Scholar
- Short-Term Scholar
- Student, College/University
Taxation of income earned by J-1 visitors varies according to the specific category the visitor was admitted under; the visitor's country of origin; and the duration of the visitor's stay in the United States. J-1 visitors whose governments have a tax treaty with the United States may be exempt Social Security
In the United States, Social Security refers to the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program.The original Social Security Act and the current version of the Act, as amended encompass several social welfare and social insurance programs...
Medicare is a social insurance program administered by the United States government, providing health insurance coverage to people who are aged 65 and over; to those who are under 65 and are permanently physically disabled or who have a congenital physical disability; or to those who meet other...
taxes for up to five years. J-1 researchers
may be exempt for up to 18 months.
Employers who hire J1 visitors may also save up on payroll taxes. When J1 visitors do not pay Social Security, Medicare or Federal Unemployment taxes, employers do not have to match these taxes. A typical employer who hires 5 Work/Travel J1 visitors and pays $8/hour each may save over $2317 in a typical 4-months season.
The J-1 visa was administered by the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) to strengthen relations between the US and other countries. It fell under the purview of the USIA and not the Immigration and Naturalization Service because its main purpose is to disseminate information; its goal is to give people training and experience in the U.S. that they can use to benefit their home countries.
The program became the subject of scrutiny in December 2010 under allegations of human trafficking
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery...
when it was reported that female J-1 visa holders were being forced to work in strip clubs, and again in 2011 when hundreds of J-1 visa holders walked out on strike at a Hershey's
Hershey's may refer to:* Hershey's, a nickname for The Hershey Company* Hershey's Ice Cream produced by Hershey Creamery Company* Hershey's Chocolate World, a theme-park/visitor-center facility...
Chocolate is a raw or processed food produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Mexico, Central and South America. Its earliest documented use is around 1100 BC...
plant in 2011, citing low wages, managerial improprieties, and abusive working conditions. They had paid for their visas with the impression that they would be given staff positions that would enable them to learn management techniques. Instead, they were assigned menial chores in a warehouse packing plant at low pay and long hours. The plant was operated by a sub-contractor to Hershey and had been staffed by a third-party agency. Hershey's response was to offer a paid day of vacation with a trip to a local tourist destination.
New Regulation for 2011
A job offer is required prior to visa interview.
Students from six particular countries (Bulgaria, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus) must have a job offer that has been confirmed by a sponsoring organization before
the student can apply for a visa. Because of these requirements, employers and J-1 students must get a head start on the hiring and visa application process.
According to a newspaper report, on February 9th, 2011, the State Department announced that the same-sex partners of American diplomats moving to a posting in the United States would now be allowed to apply for J-1 visas. This ability was not extended to non-diplomat same-sex couples however and has sparked controversy.
This is different from a long-existing policy which allows issuing B-2 visas (visitor for pleasure) to same-sex domestic partners of foreign citizens working or studying in the United States on nonimmigrant visas
United States Visas were issued to 6.6 million foreign nationals visiting the United States and to 470 thousand immigrants in 2008.A foreign national wishing to enter the U.S...
, or diplomatic visas to same-sex domestic partners of some foreign diplomats in the US.
These regulations have been initiated due to allegations of sex trade, illegal business practices, improper housing, and general vulnerabiltiy of J-1 visa recipients.