J1/J2 Educational and Cultural Programs

The J-1 Visa provides foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the United States and return home to share their experiences. In order to qualify for a J-1 Visa, an individual must be sponsored by an organization which has been approved by the U.S. government to act as an exchange visitor program. There are a wide variety of such programs, including programs intended for:

  1. Professors and researchers scholars
  2. Short-term scholars
  3. Trainees and Intern and Flight Trainee
  4. College and university students
  5. Teachers
  6. Secondary school students
  7. Specialists
  8. Alien physicians
  9. International visitors
  10. Government visitors
  11. Camp counselors
  12. Au pairs
  13. Summer work and travel

Under the J-1 Visa program, if your travel or study is financed directly by the U.S. government, or by your home-country government, your eligibility to change your immigration status while in the United States is limited by law. You must return to your home country or country of last residence for two years before becoming eligible to apply for an immigrant (permanent residence) visa. The two-year foreign residency requirement also applies to those whose field of study appears on the Exchange Visitor Skills List and to all foreign medical graduates coming to the United States for graduate medical education.

Reinstatement into J-1 Status

Technical Violations include:

  • failure to extend the DS in a timely manner due to inadvertence or neglect;
  • failure to conclude a transfer of program prior to the expiration on the DS due to delay, oversight, inadvertence or neglect;
  • failure to receive prior approval for customary honorarium.

The Responsible School official may correct these status quo ante by using a DS-2019 to correct the record, provided the following apply: no more than 120 calendar days have passed since the expiration of the current DS and the exchange visitor has maintained program objectives, has maintained the required insurance coverage, has not worked without authorization, has maintained a full course of study (or forgotten RO permission in advance), has paid the SEVIS fee (when implemented), and has not been suspended or terminated from the program. The RO notifies DOS by sending a copy of the DS. Alternatively, this can be accomplished by letter to DOS as well.

Substantive Violations include:

  • failure to maintain valid program status for more than 120 days beyond the end date of the DS;
  • failure to maintain a full course of study without prior consultation with school.

To remedy these violations the applicant and Responsible Officer must apply to DOS and demonstrate that the violation resulted from circumstances beyond the control of the applicant or from administrative delays or oversight, inadvertence or neglect or that failure to receive reinstatement will result in “unusual hardship.” DOS states that if the person is in violation over 120 days (but less than 270 days), he needs to show both inadvertence or neglect and unusual hardship. DOS will react to reinstatement request within 45 days of delivery. Reinstatement, if approved is approved as of the date of receipt by DOS and will be approved nunc pro tunc.  To make request, RO sends the filing fee, sends the DS indicating it is for reinstatement while leaving the beginning date blank but requesting an end date, and submits a written statement.

Violations precluding reinstatement include:

  • knowingly or willful failure to obtain or maintain required health insurance while in US;
  • engaged in unauthorized employment;
  • suspension or termination from the most recent exchange program;
  • failed to maintain status for more than 270 days;
  • received a 212(e) waiver; and
  • failed to maintain CIPRIS fees.

J-2. Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal (or primary) exchange visitor J visa holder in the U.S. for the duration of his stay require exchange visitor 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 who will each be issued their own Form DS-2019. This form is used to obtain the required visa and the spouse and dependents can enter the U.S. at the same time as the principal exchange visitor or at a later date.

Spouse and children can work only if it is not for support of principal J-1 and spouse is not also a J-1. Employment request is authorized for the length of J-1’s stay or 4 years, whichever is shorter.

The spouse and/or children of an exchange visitor visa holder who are in the U.S. on an exchange visitor visa may study in the U.S. without also being required to apply for a student (F-1) visa or change to F-1 status.

Spouses and/or children who do not intend to reside in the U.S. with the principal visa holder, but visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor visas (B-2), or if qualified, travel without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program.