J Exchange Visitor

The J-1 visa category is used by foreign students, scholars, experts, medical interns and residents, “international visitors,” and industrial and business trainees to enter the US through US government-approved Exchange-Visitor Programs.

The purpose of an exchange visitor’s stay in the US is to gain experience, study, or perform research in the individual’s respective field and to take her newly gained skills back to her home country. The exchange visitor may be authorized to work for either her program sponsor or host institution, and only for employment that is within the guidelines of the program as approved by the Department of State. (If an employer did not participate in the sponsorship of the exchange visitor for her J visa, the employer may not sponsor the exchange visitor without taking steps to change the exchange visitor’s status (i.e., to H-1B).) Exceptions to this rule may be available for: (1) exchange visitors who are research scholars; (2) exchange visitor who are in practical training; and (3) exchange visitors who demonstrate economic necessity.

It is important to know that J-1 exchange visitors may be subject to a two-year home country return requirement. Any exchange visitor who is subject to this requirement will be ineligible for Permanent Residence or nonimmigrant visas in the H or L category until she spends two years – after completion of stay – in her home country or country of last residence. A waiver of this requirement may be available in some cases.

PLEASE NOTE: Immigration law and regulations change frequently. In order to protect yourself you should make sure that you understand the laws and how they apply to you. If you have questions about your status, you should consult an expert. If you would like to be notified about recent changes to this website, or if you would like to receive Immigration Tips by email, please provide us with your email address. If you would like help from Ms. Chappell-Daly, please contact her.