The J-1 Visa category is for individuals who enter the United States as “exchange visitors”, having be accepted in a U.S. government approved Exchange-Visitor Program for the purpose of gaining experience, studying or doing research in their respective fields. These individuals include foreign students, scholars, experts, medical interns and residents, “international visitors,” and business trainees.
The alien must have plans to participate in an exchange-visitor program. A government agency, educational institution, hospital, nonprofit association, business or industrial concern may sponsor these. Approval for the exchange visitor program rests with the United States Information Agency.
Upon completion of the Exchange-Visitor Program, certain aliens will be required to remain out of the United States and in their home country or country of last residence for a period of two years before being readmitted to the United States in an employment category. This rule is applicable to individuals who:
Note, the two year foreign residency requirement is also applicable to spouse and children of the exchange-visitor. Accordingly, a spouse may not work in the United States (i.e. H-1B visa) during the two-year foreign residency period for the exchange-visitor spouse. Further note, the two-year period abroad cannot be transferred to time spent in another country outside the United States. It must be the exchange-visitor’s home country or country of residence.
As with other nonimmigrant visas, the alien must prove his nonimmigrant intent and maintain a foreign residence as proof of intention to return abroad.
The application is made at the United States Consulate and the following is required:
FORM OF-156 – this form must be completed in full.
FORM IAP-66 – the sponsor will forward this form, the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor, to the applicant.
As noted above, an exchange-visitor must show that he has no intention of remaining in the United States (nonimmigrant intent). His sole purpose for entering the United States is to train etc., and he will return to his home country upon completion of those activities. Evidence in this regard includes proof of foreign residence, family ties to home country, property, and prospects of employment upon completion of program. Moreover, at the Consulate it may be helpful for the applicant of have a letter from his sponsor explaining the training he will undertake in the United States. It is important the applicant state that he is undergoing training and NOT employment. The latter will probably result in refusal of the visa.
The alien’s passport at the time of the application at the Consulate should be valid for at least a period of six months.
Accompanying family members (spouse and children) will be issued a J-2 visa. The family requires the same documentation as the exchange-visitor, including proof of family relationship. Should the family not be applying for their visa at the consulate at the same time as the exchange-visitor, they will require a copy of the exchange-visitor’s Form IAP-66, I-94 card and a letter from the exchange-visitor’s program director indicating that he is currently pursuing his program.
At the Port of Entry or Airport, the exchange-visitor will present to the Immigration officer his Passport and valid J Visa as well as Form IAP-66 (copies 1 through 3) which will have been returned to the alien by the U.S. Consulate. The passport will be stamped and he will be given Copy 3 of Form IAP-66. The exchange-visitor must keep this document with his at all times, and will require it for re admittance to the United States should he go abroad. The student will further be issued an I-94 form.
Not all J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to the two year home country requirement. This rule requires many J-1 visa holders to be physically present in their country of nationality or last residence for at least two years after termination of their J status before they can receive an H or L nonimmigrant visa or permanent resident status.
The two year foreign residence requirement only attaches to an exchange visitor who:
There are four ways for a J-1 visa holder to obtain a waiver of his/her two-year home country requirement:
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