J-1 Visas

J-1 Visa Overview

 

The Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 which created the J-1 visa, enables the Government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange. It promotes international cooperation for educational and cultural advancement and thus to assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic, and peaceful relations between the United States and the other countries of the world.

 

 

The J-1 Visa provides countless opportunities for international candidates looking to travel and gain experience in the United States. The multifaceted programs enable foreign nationals to come to the US to teach, study, conduct research, demonstrate special skills or receive on the job training for periods ranging from a few weeks to 18 months.

US Employers do not sponsor J-1 visa participants. The applicant is sponsored by accredited organizations that have been authorized by the US Department of State to sponsor a number of exchange visitor programs.

 

Goproabroad visa service is available to participants in the Intern and Trainee categories within the following fields:

  • Business, Management, Commerce and Finance
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Information, Media and Communications
  • Public Administration and Law
  • The Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics

THE J1 VISA ALLOWS THE APPLICANT TO:

  • Participate in a training program for up to 12 or 18 months
  • Obtain a Social Security number
  • Obtain a U.S. driver’s license

THE J1 VISA DOES NOT ALLOW THE APPLICANT TO:

  • Change host employer unless the transfer and new Host Company has been previously approved
  • Gain employment outside of the original training program
  • Extend the hospitality/culinary training program past 12 months

CHANGING HOST COMPANIES

 

Transfers are exceptions, and will only be considered in the event that the Host Company where you are completing your program is unable to provide the agreed training, or some other irreconcilable issue has emerged.

J-1 visa regulations prohibit participants from changing host companies without their sponsor first vetting the new host company and approving the transfer before any host company change. Note that transfers, if ever approved, may take weeks to get processed and may incur administrative costs to the participant involved.

 

UNDERSTANDING THE J1 VISA PROGRAM

 

The purpose of the J-1 visa program is to provide international participants with opportunities for professional development, insight into the American know-how in the field of training and a greater understanding of the American society and culture. J-1 visa interns and trainees are expected to share the cross-cultural and professional knowledge that they have gained in the US upon return to their home country at the end of their training. The J-1 program is also intended to allow American citizens to learn about the culture and expertise of the participant’s home country.

 

REQUIREMENTS

 

Internship Program up to 12 months

  • 18+ year old
  • Must be enrolled in a university or college outside of the U.S. or have graduated from one within 12 months prior to the start of the internship
  • Must be fluent in English

Training Program up to 18 months

  • 20+ year old
  • Must possess a degree or certificate from a post-
    secondary institution outside of the US and 1 year of professional experience or must have 5 years of professional experience
  • Must be fluent in English

WORK & TRAVEL

 

The Summer Work Travel program provides foreign students with an opportunity to live and work in the United States during their summer vacation from college or university to experience and to be exposed to the people and their way of life in the United States.

 

REQUIREMENTS

  • Must be 18 to 29 years old
  • Sufficiently proficient in English to successfully interact in an English speaking environment
  • Must be currently enrolled and actively pursuing a college or university degree
  • Have successfully completed at least one semester or equivalent of post-secondary academic study

J-2 Visa

Family members of a J-1 visa holder may apply for a J-2 visa. The spouse and unmarried children (under the age of 21) may accompany or later join the J-1 visa holder to the United States. The J-2 visa holders can stay in the USA as long as the J-1 visa holder remains in official status.

 

 

Eligibility for a J-2 visa depends on the specific exchange program being offered to the J-1 non-immigrant by a sponsor organizations. The sponsor must approve the accompaniment of the spouse and/or children who will each be issued their own DS-2019 Form.

 

 

CAN I WORK ON A J-2 VISA?

 

In most cases a J-2 visa holder can seek employment. To be able to work, a J-2 visa holder must obtain an Employment Authorization Document from the Department of Homeland Security, US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Money earned by a J-2 cannot be used to support the principal J-1 visa holder expenses.

 

 

WHAT PRIVILEGES DO I ENJOY ON A J-2 VISA?

 

A J-2 may enter the United States along with their J-1 spouse or parent or join the J-1 while participating in their exchange program in the United States. They may study or work while in the United States.

 

 

WHAT ARE THE LIMITATIONS OF THE J-2 VISA?

 

You are dependent upon the status of the principle J-1 holder and are only able to apply for a work permit after arriving in the United States.

 

 

HOW LONG CAN I STAY IN THE UNITED STATES ON A J-2 VISA?

 

You may remain in the United States as long as the principle J-1 Visa holder has valid J-1 status.

*References: The U.S. Department of State

DS-2019

WHAT IS THE FORM DS-2019?

 

The DS-2019 form or “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status” is the basic document used in the administration of the exchange visitor program. This form permits a prospective exchange visitor to seek an interview at a US embassy or consulate in order to obtain a J-1 visa to enter the United States. The DS-2019 form identifies the exchange visitor and their designated sponsor and provides a brief description of the exchange visitor’s program, including the start and end date, category of exchange and an estimate of the cost of the exchange program.

 

 

HOW CAN I OBTAIN A FORM DS-2019?

 

Designated sponsors are authorized to issue this form to prospective exchange visitors they have screened and selected for participation in the exchange visitor program. The information in this form is completed by the sponsor prior to being given to the participant, who once given the DS-2019, can apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate for the J-1 visa. Issuance of the J-1 visa, like all non-immigrant visas, is at the discretion of Consular Officers viewing visa applications at U.S. embassies and consulates. This means that even if you are accepted to an exchange visitor program and have received your DS-2019, the Consular Officers decide if you will or not be granted the J-1 visa.

SEVIS

The SEVIS I-901 fee is mandated by the Congress to support the program office and the automated system that keeps track on all exchange visitors and ensures that they maintain their status while in the United States.

Each exchange visitor issued a DS-2019 is responsible for paying for this fee.

 

THE FEE IS USED TO:

 

Maintaining and updating the SEVIS system

Hiring and training the SEVIS Liaison Officers

 

Managing the SEVP Office:

 

Supporting the current version of SEVIS, developing and deploying the next generation of SEVIS

Developing SEVP policies and procedures

SEVIS-related training, assistance and problem solving services to the schools and exchange visitors sponsors

 

Maintaining the supervision to ensure that:

 

Schools are maintaining accurate, timely information

Students or exchange visitors who fail to maintain status either leave the United States or apply for reinstatement

FAQ's

The Summer Work Travel program provides foreign students with an opportunity to live and work in the United States during their summer vacation from college or university to experience and to be exposed to the people and their way of life in the United States.


WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM (J-1 VISA PROGRAM)?

The Exchange Visitor Program is carried out pursuant to the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, as amended. Its purpose is to foster mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through educational and cultural exchanges. All exchange visitors are expected to return to their home country upon completion of their program in order to share their exchange experiences with people in their home country.


WHAT IS THE FORM DS-2019?

The Form DS-2019 is the “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status”. The Form DS-2019 is a controlled document which only State Department-designated sponsors are authorized to issue to foreign nationals (prospective exchange visitors). They are screened and selected for participation in the State Department-designated exchange visitor program. Foreign nationals (prospective exchange visitors) then apply at a US. embassy or consulate for the J-1 exchange visitor visa to participate in their prospective sponsor’s exchange visitor program. Issuance of the J-1 visa, like all non-immigrant visas, is at the discretion of Consular Officers viewing visa applications at US embassies and consulates.


WHAT IS THE FORM DS-7002?

The Form DS-7002 is the “Training/Internship Placement Plan” (T/IPP). It is a controlled document which only sponsors designated by the State Department for the “trainee” and “intern” exchange visitor program categories are authorized to issue to foreign nationals they have screened and selected for participation in their designated exchange visitor program. Such sponsors must complete and sign the T/IPP for each trainee or intern before issuing the Form DS-2019. The T/IPP ensures that trainees are participating in bona fide training and that interns are participating in work-based learning, both of which are permitted while ordinary employment and unskilled labor are not permitted using the J-1 visa for training and internship purposes. In addition to presenting their DS-2019 to U.S. embassy or consulate Consular Officers at the time of application for the J-1 visa, prospective trainees and interns must also present their fully executed DS-7002 when requested by the reviewing Consular Officer.


DO ALL EXCHANGE VISITORS HAVE TO PAY THE I-901 SEVIS FEE?

Most exchange visitors are required to pay a one-time SEVIS fee of $220 (US currency). For the Summer Work/Travel the fee is $35. All those applying for a J-1 visa for initial participation in a program must pay this fee. In addition, those already in the United States applying for a change of status to J-1 must pay the fee, as does an exchange visitor applying for a change of category.


WHAT IS THE VISA INTERVIEW LIKE?

Once the exchange visitor receives the Form DS-2019 from the sponsor, they must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and make a visa appointment at the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest their home. At the visa appointment, the consular officer will determine whether the potential exchange visitor qualifies for the visa. Applicants must demonstrate that they properly meet the requirements to be issued an exchange visitor visa, including the following:

That they plan to remain in the United States for a temporary, specific, limited period

Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the United States

Evidence of compelling social and economic ties to their home country

 

WHICH DOCUMENTS ARE MOST IMPORTANT FOR THE EXCHANGE VISITOR?

The critical documents that each exchange visitor must protect for the duration of their stay in the United States are:

All Forms DS 2019 issued


Passport


WHEN CAN EXCHANGE VISITORS ENTER THE UNITED STATES PRIOR TO THE START OF THEIR EXCHANGE PROGRAM? AND, WHEN MUST EXCHANGE VISITORS DEPART THE UNITED STATES BY AFTER THE COMPLETION OF THEIR EXCHANGE PROGRAM?


Two 30 day periods govern an exchange visitor’s authorized stay in the United States. The first 30-day period occurs before an exchange visitor’s program begin/start date stated on the exchange visitor’s Form DS-2019. The second 30-day period occurs after the exchange visitor’s successful completion of the program end date stated on his/her Form DS-2019. Both periods relate to non-immigrant visa holders’ immigration status in the United States. In addition, the 30-day periods (before and after the actual exchange visitor program start/end dates) fall under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).


HOW DOES AN EXCHANGE VISITOR “MAINTAIN PROGRAM STATUS”?

Exchange visitors are admitted to the United States for a specific period of time to engage in a particular program (activity), as described on their Form DS 2019. Exchange visitors must maintain lawful (J-1) program status, as failure to do so can have serious long-term consequences. 


Key Reminders:

Exchange visitors must know the expiration date of their program (the end date in section 3 of the DS 2019 Form) and the expected departure date. If regulations permit and the Exchange visitors J-1 program is extended, the sponsor must use SEVIS to change the end date on the Form DS 2019 prior to the expiration date of the original Form, reprint the Form, sign it in blue ink and give it to the exchange visitor.

When traveling outside the United States, exchange visitors must first obtain a “travel signature” on the Form DS 2019 to facilitate re-entry. Exchange visitors should be reminded to retain all copies of Form DS-2019 with their immigration papers.

Exchange visitors must never accept unauthorized employment.

Exchange visitors must comply with the Department of State’s health insurance requirements for J-1 visa holders and their families. Wilful disregard of this requirement will result in termination of the J-1 program.

Exchange visitors must keep their passports valid. Passports can be renewed by foreign embassies in Washington D.C. and foreign consulates in other cities. For information about embassies, see http://www.embassy.org.

 

WHAT DOES THE NOTATION “D/S” ON THE I-94, ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE RECORD, MEAN?

Exchange visitors (J-1) are admitted to the United States for the period of time necessary to complete their program, and are given the notation “D/S” (Duration of Status) on their I-94 Arrival/Departure Record by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration officials at the port of entry into the United States. For non-immigrants admitted with Duration of Status, unlawful presence in the United States begins to accrue on the date DHS finds a status violation while adjudicating a request for an immigration benefit (for example, a request for a change of status), or when an immigration judge finds a status violation during proceedings. For non-immigrants admitted with a date certain (as opposed to D/S), unlawful presence begins to accrue on the date the Form I-94 expires.


WHO SHOULD I CONTACT ABOUT A PROBLEM I AM HAVING REGARDING MY J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM?

You should contact Placement International and your J-1 program sponsor. Your sponsor is responsible for assisting and advising you on all matters regarding your J-1 exchange visitor program.


WHO SHOULD I CONTACT ABOUT TRAVELING OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES DURING MY J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM?

You need to contact your J-1 program sponsor regarding your travel plans. Your sponsor must authorize your travel prior to your departure from the United States.


HOW LONG CAN I REMAIN IN THE UNITED STATES AFTER MY J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM ENDS?

Two 30 day periods govern an exchange visitor’s authorized stay in the United States. The first 30-day period occurs before an exchange visitor’s program begin/start date stated on the exchange visitor’s Form DS-2019. The second 30-day period occurs after the exchange visitor’s successful completion of the program end date stated on his/her Form DS-2019. Both periods relate to non-immigrant visa holders’ immigration status in the United States.


WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY J-1 VISA STATUS IF I WITHDRAW FROM MY EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM?

If you plan to withdraw from your program you must notify Placement International and your program sponsor. If you withdraw, your program sponsor will enter this information into SEVIS and you will be expected to depart the United States immediately. You will not be entitled to the post-completion 30 day period because you did not successfully complete your program.


WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY J-1 VISA STATUS IF MY EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM SPONSOR TERMINATES MY EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM?

If your sponsor terminates you for just cause, they will enter this information into SEVIS and you will be expected to depart the United States immediately. You will not be entitled to the post-completion 30 day period because you did not successfully complete your program


WILL I HAVE TO PAY TAXES ON MY SALARY IF I AM WORKING AND RECEIVING WAGES WHILE ON A J-1 VISA?

Yes, you will need to pay taxes on any salary/wages earned while utilizing the J-1 visa in the United States.


HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM SUBJECT TO THE TWO-YEAR FOREIGN RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT (SECTION 212(E) OF THE IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY ACT)?

You should contact the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (Waiver Review Division) for assistance. The Public Inquiries telephone number to the Bureau of Consular Affairs, Visa Office, is (202) 663-1225. Their website is: http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1288.html.


HOW CAN I APPLY FOR A WAIVER OF THE TWO-YEAR FOREIGN RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT (SECTION 212(E) OF THE IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY ACT)?

You should contact the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (Waiver Review Division) for assistance. The Public Inquiries telephone number to the Bureau of Consular Affairs, Visa Office, is (202) 663-1225. Their website is: http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1288.html.


WHO SHOULD I CONTACT REGARDING PROBLEMS I AM HAVING SECURING A SOCIAL SECURITY CARD?

You should contact the Social Security Administration.

OTHER VISAS

OPT VISA

 

OPT is a benefit authorized by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that extends the F-1 student status to allow you to work in the U.S.A. in order to gain practical training in your major field of study.

 

There are two types of OPT visas:

 

Pre-completion OPT: This is a type of OPT where people currently pursuing degree programs acquire work authorization to do work related to their field of study. The work may be part-time during academic quarters and full-time during vacations.

 

Post-completion OPT: This is a type of OPT for people who have completed their degree requirements, and requires working at least 20 hours/week to count as OPT employment. Ph.D. candidates can apply for post-completion OPT if they are ABD (all but dissertation) and are not simultaneously enrolled as students.

 

Only students pursuing a degree (Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degree programs) are allowed to apply for an OPT. Students who have graduated from a US College or University with a specific degree in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) can apply to extend their OPT. In this case, they can extend it for an additional 17 months.

 

Note that students on OPT must report their jobs to the international office at their university. Most international offices have an interface for students to report and update their job details online.

 

TN (NAFTA) Visa

 

The TN (NAFTA) visa is a non-immigrant status unique for Canadian and Mexican citizens. TN visa was created by virtue of the 1994 NAFTA treaty. It allows American, Canadian and Mexican citizens to work in each other’s countries in certain professional occupations. Within the TN list of occupations, a Canadian or Mexican citizen can work in the USA for up to three years at a time.

However, the TN status may be renewed indefinitely in one to three-year increments. The TN it is not a permanent visa and if the US immigration officials suspect that it is being used as a de facto substitute for a Green Card they may refuse further renewals. Spouse and dependent children of a TN professional can be admitted into the United States under the TD status.

 

ADVANTAGES OF THE TN VISA

 

Main advantages of the TN visa over other US immigration visas:

Can be obtained quickly

Can be obtained at the border and no petition to US immigration is required (for Canadian citizens)

No annual limits on the number of TN Visas issued (H-1B visa has a quota)

Very beneficial for employers who want to hire a professional that could start within a short delay

Can be renewed indefinitely

Can be submitted/issued for up to 3 years

 

H-1B VISA

 

The US H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in architecture, engineering, mathematics, science and medicine. Individuals are not able to apply for an H-1B visa to allow them to work in the US The employer must petition for entry of the employee. H-1B visas are subject to annual numerical limits. US employers can begin applying for the H-1B visa six months before the actual start date of the visa.

 

TO APPLY FOR A SPECIFIC JOB AND A H-1B VISA YOU MUST MEET ONE OF THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA

 

Have completed a US bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university

 

Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a US bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation

Hold an unrestricted state license, registration or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment

 

Have education, training or experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty

 

OTHER ADVANTAGES

The H-1B Visa is initially granted for up to three years, but may then be extended to a maximum of six years.

Applying to a H-1B Visa is a way to extend a post-completion OPT.

H-1B visa holders can bring their spouse and children under 21 years of age to the US under the H4 Visa category as dependents.

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