J visa category
There are two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons who want to participate in Exchange Visitor programs in the United States. The J nonimmigrant visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Exchange visitor categories
- Au Pair and EduCare: Through the Au Pair program, participants and host families take part in a mutually rewarding, intercultural opportunity. Participants can continue their education while experiencing everyday life with an American family, and hosts receive reliable and responsible childcare from individuals who become part of the family.
- Camp Counselor Program: The Camp Counselor Program enables post-secondary students, youth workers, and teachers to share their culture and ideas with the people of the United States in camp settings throughout the country.
- Intern Program: Internship programs are designed to allow foreign college and university students or recent graduates to come to the United States to gain exposure to U.S. culture and to receive hands-on experience in U.S. business practices in their chosen occupational field.
- International Visitor Program: The International visitor category is for people-to people programs, which seek to develop and strengthen professional and personal ties between key foreign nationals and Americans and American institutions.
- Physician Program: Through the Alien Physician program foreign physicians participate in U.S. graduate medical education programs or training at accredited U.S. schools of medicine.
- Professor and Research Scholar Program: The exchange of professors and research scholars promotes the exchange of ideas, research, mutual enrichment and linkages between research and academic institutions in the United States and foreign countries.
- Short-Term Scholar Program: Professors, research scholars and other individuals with similar education or accomplishments travel to the United States on a short-term visit for to lecture, observe, consult, train or demonstrate special skills at research institutions, museums, libraries, post-secondary accredited academic institutions or similar types of institutions.
- Specialist Program: Specialists are experts in a field of specialized knowledge or skills who provide opportunities to increase the exchange of ideas with American counterparts.
- College and University Student Program: Foreign students have the opportunity to study at American degree-granting post-secondary accredited academic institutions, or participate in a student internship program that will fulfill the educational objectives of the student's degree program in his or her home country.
- Secondary School Student Program: Secondary school students travel to the United States to study at an accredited public or private high school and live with an American host family or at an accredited boarding school.
- Summer Work Travel Program: College and University students enrolled full time and pursuing studies at post-secondary accredited academic institutions located outside the United States come to the United States to share their culture and ideas with people of the United States through temporary work and travel opportunities.
- Teacher Program: Foreign teachers have the opportunity to teach in accredited primary and secondary schools in the United States.
- Trainee: Training programs are designed to allow foreign professionals to come to the United States to gain exposure to U.S. culture and to receive training in U.S. business practices in their chosen occupational field.
Acceptance in Exchange Visitor Program
Before you can apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate for a J-1 visa, you must first apply for and be accepted into an exchange visitor program through a designated sponsoring organization. When you are accepted into the exchange visitor program you plan to participate in, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Your program sponsor will provide you with a Form DS-2019 to present when you attend your visa interview. If your program allows your spouse and children to participate with you, they will be issued their own Form DS 2019 in order to apply for J-2 visas to accompany you.
Two-year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement
An exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement if the following conditions exist:
- Government funded exchange program: the U.S. government or the government of the exchange visitor's nationality or last residence financed the program in which the exchange visitor was participating in whole or in part directly or indirectly
- Graduate medical education or training: The exchange visitor entered the U.S. to receive graduate medical education or training
- Specialized knowledge or skill: Skills List: The exchange visitor is a national or permanent resident of a country which has deemed the field of specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the country;
When you, as an exchange visitor are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, you must return to your home country for a cumulative total period of at least two years before you can change status, adjust status, receive an immigrant visa, or receive a H visa, L visa or K visa.
Spouse and children
Your spouse and unmarried, minor children may be able to apply for J-2 visas to accompany or join you at a later date to reside with you during your J program, depending on the program category. Your minor children are permitted to attend school while in the United States on J-2 visas and are not required to obtain student (F) visas.