Education or Cultural Exchanges to the US: A J-1 Visa May Be Needed

International visitors can apply for a J-1 visa to come to the US temporarily through an educational and cultural exchange program.  Ideally, when participants in the Exchange Visitor Program return to their respective home countries, they would be able to utilize the skills that they acquire while in the States.

The J-1 visa can be difficult to get due to the popularity of the program.  In order to gain an advantage over other applicants who are applying for the program without help, you should enlist the services of an immigration lawyer.  Niren & Associates has extensive knowledge in correctly preparing application packages for the Exchange Visitor Program, so you can rely on our experience to help guide your case through the system.

Contact our Edmonton immigration lawyers for J-1 Visa application help

I wanted to thank you for facilitating a J-1 Visa for me.  The time you dedicated to my file is much appreciated.  Thank you for coordinating a plan and getting the job done! You and your team are extraordinary. – Dan G.

The following is a list of the main Exchange Visitor Program categories:

  1. Trainees and interns in medicine, business, and other fields;
  2. Secondary, college, and university students;
  3. Teachers at all academic levels;
  4. Professors employed to teach and/or perform research at post-secondary institutions;
  5. Au pairs;
  6. Government Visitors; and
  7. Research Scholars.

Requirements for a J-1 Visa

Each category listed above has its own specific requirements and regulations, in addition to the general requirements.

To qualify for a J-1 visa, applicants must:

  • be sponsored by an American organization to come to the U.S. as a visitor in a recognized exchange category
  • obtain a Form DS-2019 from their sponsor before applying for a J-1 visa.
  • have the requisite academic background to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program, including knowledge of the English language (unless the program does not require such knowledge)
  • demonstrate that they plan to depart the U.S. at the conclusion of their exchange program
  • demonstrate that they have compelling social and economic ties abroad which they have no intention of abandoning
  • demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to cover living expenses incurred while in the U.S.

Exchange visitors coming to the U.S. for medical education or training must have passed the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination.

Regarding employment, J-1 visa holders may be authorized to work in the U.S. as part of their exchange program. Participants in programs which do not involve work may not engage in outside employment.

J-1 Visa Foreign Residency Requirements

In the event that certain conditions exist, an exchange visitor is required to have a two-year home country physical presence.  This means that the exchange visitor would not be able to change his/her status to that of H VisaL Visa, K Visa, or lawful US permanent resident until he or she has returned to his/her home country for at least two years or received a waiver of that requirement.

The conditions for the foreign residency requirement are if the exchange visitor:

  • is participating in a program which is directly or indirectly financed in whole or in part by the U.S. government or the government of the exchange visitor; or
  • entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training; or
  • 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.

Waivers of Foreign Residency for J-1 Visa Holders

A waiver of the physical presence requirement may be granted in any one of the following situations:

  • “No Objection” Statement from the visitor’s home government is obtained;
  • The visitor claims that she or he will be persecuted if returned home;
  • A U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or child claims that exceptional hardship will result if the visitor returns home;
  • A request is made on behalf of the visitor by an interested U.S. government agency;
  • A request is made on behalf of the visitor by a designated health agency or its equivalent.

Opportunities for Spouses and Children that Accompany J1 Visa Holders

Spouses and/or children (under the age of 21) who wish to accompany the principal J-1 visa applicant to the U.S. require derivative J visas.

The application procedure is the same as that for a primary visa applicant. The sponsor must approve the accompaniment of the spouse and/or children and issue each approved family member a Form DS-2019 as well. In addition, accompanying family members of the principal applicant must demonstrate that they have sufficient financial resources to cover all expenses while in the U.S.

Accompanying spouses and children of the J-1 Visa holder may study in the U.S. during the principal applicant’s exchange, but they are not authorized to work. J-2 visa holders may, however, apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for employment authorization.

Contact Our Edmonton Immigration Law Office To Properly Prepare Your Application

Since your application will be carefully checked by immigration officials, your J-1 visa may not be approved if any information is incorrect or incomplete.  Let our immigration attorneys professionally prepare your application, so you can focus on all the other arrangements of your new temporary life in the US.

Contact our Edmonton immigration lawyers for J-1 application help today