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J1 Visa

Requirements

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Information

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Processing Time

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.

Requirements PARTICIPATE IN EXCHANGE-VISITOR PROGRAM
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. TWO-YEAR FOREIGN RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT
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:

  1. Program financed, in whole are part, by home or U.S. governments
  2. Nationals of countries who the Director of the USIA (US Info. Agency) has determined that their home country requires their skills, expertise and training
  3. Aliens who have received graduate medical train (interns or residents). The USIA may waive this requirement. However, the alien must "good cause".

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. FOREIGN RESIDENCY
As with other nonimmigrant visas, the alien must prove his nonimmigrant intent and maintain a foreign residence as proof of intention to return abroad.
Information APPLICATION
The application is made at the United States Consulate and the following is required:

  1. Form OF-156 - standard nonimmigrant visa application.
  2. Form IAP-66 - issued by the program sponsor (copies 1 through 3).
  3. Supporting documentation; establish the alien's nonimmigrant intent.
  4. Passport and photograph of the visa applicant.
  5. Application fee (if applicable).
  6. Machine-readable visa fee (if applicable $20).


PROCESSING NOTES
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.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION
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.

PASSPORT
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 (J-2 Visa)
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.

BORDER PROCEDURES
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.

J-1 WAIVER
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:

  1. Enter the United States to participate in an exchange visitor program financed in whole or part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the United States Government or by a government of his or her nationality or last residence.
  2. Is a national or resident of a country, which the USIA has designated on its "Skills List" as requiring the services of persons engaged in the field of, specialized knowledge or skill in which the exchange visitor was engaged. An exchange visitor who is not governmentally financed is subject to the two-year rule if his or her country of either residence or nationality appears on the Skills List at the time the J visa was issued or at the time a change of status to J-1 was granted.
  3. Came to the U.S. or acquired J status to receive "graduate medical education or training." However, a J-1 physician who engaged in research, teaching, consultation or non-clinically oriented training with only incidental patient contact is not subject tot he foreign residence requirement unless thy receive governmental funding or the Skills List applies to them.



There are four ways for a J-1 visa holder to obtain a waiver of his/her two-year home country requirement:

  1. Interested Government Agency Waiver: A statement from a U.S. government agency to the United States Information Agency (USIA) in favor to a waiver. These "Interested Government Agency" waiver requests can come from any federal agency. Examples of Interested Government Agencies include, but are not limited to Department of Health and Human Services, Appalachian Regional Commission Waiver Request. Department of Veteran Affairs, Department of Agriculture and Interior, Department of Education, National Science Foundation and Department of Commerce
  2. No-Objection Waiver: A "No Objection" letter from the exchange visitor's country of nationality or last permanent residence to the USIA, sent through official diplomatic channels, which states that the foreign government does not object to the granting of a waiver. Most embassies in Washington are familiar with No-Objection statements and they have a specific person assigned to such matters.
  3. Hardship Waiver: A finding by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) that the exchange visitor's U.S. Citizen or permanent resident spouse or child would face exceptional hardship if a waiver were not granted.
  4. Persecution Waiver: A finding by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) that the exchange visitor will face persecution if forced to return to his or her home country.

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