J-1 Exchange Visa

The J-1 Visa is frequently used by students, research scholars, trainees and medical residents. It is particularly useful for students with bachelor degrees or the equivalent who are unable to obtain H-1B visas due to the quota. The duration of the visa depends upon the type of program. Many trainees will receive a maximum period of 18 months for a training program while trainee flight pilots may receive up to 24 months.

A J-1 visa holder may enter the US up to 30 days prior to the start date of the program and there is a “grace period” of 30 days during which he or she can remain after the end date of the program.

The application must be made through an Exchange Visitor program authorized by the Department of State. Employers and sponsors should route their application through organizations authorized to run an Exchange Visitor program by the Department of State or through established programs within their own organizations.

Some J-1 visa holders are subject to the 2-year Foreign Residence Requirement. This means they must return to their home country or last country of residence for a 2-year period following completion of their program. They cannot apply for permanent residence or L or H non-immigrant visas until this residence requirement has been fulfilled.