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A J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is a non-immigrant visa available to aliens that fall under the designation of “Exchange Visitor”.

J-1 exchange visitors travel to thej-1 United States through a Department of State approved sponsor program to teach, study, receive training or demonstrate special skills. To obtain a J-1 Visa, your sponsor must be accredited through the Exchange Visitor Program designated by the U.S. State Department. he J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Program currently falls under 13 different exchange program categories. Depending on the particular category, a Visa obtained under J-1 Exchange visitor program will allow any foreign national to work, train or travel legally around USA. It benefits the US businesses by providing them with seasonal and other staffs.

Sponsors screen and select their program J-1 participants according to the eligibility criteria for each program category. Some categories require that a personal interview be part of the screening and selection process. In addition to program-specific criteria, all participants must satisfy English language proficiency and insurance requirements.

 Call Washington D.C. immigration attorney Irina Vinogradsky to help you obtain J-1 exchange visitor visa!

Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a J-1 visa, you must first apply, meet the requirements, and be accepted for one of the Exchange Visitor Program categories through a designated sponsoring organization. Once a person is accepted as a participant in an exchange program, the sponsor will provide him with information and documents necessary to apply for the J visa to enter the U.S.

J-1 exchange visitor visa is designed for: researcher

  • Professors or Researchers
  • International visitors
  • Teachers
  • Camp counselors
  • Au pair

J-1 Visa Requirements:

  1. Certificate of eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status
  2. SEVIS generated form DS-2019
  3. Employment allowed under the terms of the exchange
  4. Spouses may work only with CIS permission;
  5. Proof of relinquished foreign residence is required;
  6. Admitted for duration of status.
  7. SEVIS fee


The Au Pair category of the J-1 Visa Exchange Program allows a caring live-in childcare provider between the ages of 18 and 26 to live as an extended member of a host family in exchange for room, board, and a stipend. Although the main priority of a successful applicant will be to take care of the kids, they should also have free time to enjoy life in the U.S.There are several agencies that provide services of matching candidates with host families in USA.

  • Be 18 to 26 years-old and in good health
  • Have a genuine love of children and childcare experience
  • Speak and understand English
  • Be a secondary school graduate
  • Have an international driver’s license and a minimum of 50 hours of driving experience
  • Be a non-smoker if required by the host family
  • Be of good character and receive a police clearance report
  • Be prepared to commit to 12 months away from home
  • Have not previously lived in the U.S. as an au pair

J-1 Visa Application Process

The Form DS-2019 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 U.S. embassy or consulate in order to obtain a J visa to enter the United States. 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 receive the J-1 visa. Person planning to immigrate to the United States is ineligible for a J visa (unlike an H visa).

The Form DS-2019 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. Read the detailed description of the Form DS-2019.

Professional, study and apprenticeship fields, which CAN apply for a DS-2019 form:

  • Information Media and Communications
  • Management, Business, Commerce, Finance (including Hospitality and Hotel Management)
  • The Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics, and Industrial Occupations
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing, caring for or treating animals
  • Public Administration and Law
  • Arts & Culture
  • Students currently enrolled in a certificate granting post secondary education program (e.g. university / polytechnic etc.) for at least one semester (Interns)
  • Graduates from a certificate granting post secondary education institution beginning their internship within 12 month after graduation (Interns)
  • Graduates from a certificate granting post secondary education institution with at least one year of professional experience outside the USA (Trainees)

Restrictions: The following fields CANNOT apply for a DS-2019 form through Interswop:

  • Aupairs, domestic work, babysitting or housekeeping etc.;
  • Medical interns or anything involving hands-on therapy, counseling, administrating medical treatment or making diagnoses of medical, psychiatric or psychological patients;
  • Crew members on ships or airplanes, pilots;
  • Education, social sciences, library science, counseling and social services;
  • High school leaver for pre-study internships which are not yet enrolled in an university and studying since at least one semester;
  • Persons who like to do an thesis or PhD within a company;
  • Persons who already done an internship in the US and entered with a J-1 visa previously.

J-2 Spouse or Child of J-1 J-1 Exchange Visitor:

This classification is eligible for employment authorization on Form I-765 if that work will not be used to support the J-1 principal. The employment is authorized for the length of stay of the J-1 or four years, whichever is shorter.

Two-year home requirement

Once subject always subject unless waived 🙁

The two-year home residency requirement (or 212(e), as it is referenced in the immigration regulations) means that those who come the U.S. in J-1 status cannot become permanent residents in the U.S., change status in the U.S., or get work or family-based visa status such as H, L or K until they return to their country of last permanent residence for at least two years cumulatively.

Change of status generally prohibited for J-1’s subject to the 2-year residency requirement (unless described in 8 CFR 248.2(c)), unless changing to A or G status. (See 8 CFR 248.2(d)).

If  J-1 is subject to the two-year foreign requirement. J-2 dependents are also subject to this requirement and may not change status until that requirement is waived or fulfilled, except divorce or death of the former J-1, in which case the former J-2 could apply directly for a waiver.

If the two-year requirement is not met, the principal beneficiary may seek to return to the United States in F-1 status as a full-time student, or in TN-1 or O-1 status and defer fulfilling or obtaining a waiver of the two-year foreign residency requirement. And obtaining an intervening NIV status such as O-1 or F-1 most certainly does not remove the J-1 foreign residence requirement.

Who is subject?

Individuals in J-1 status (and their J-2 dependents) can become subject if any of the following apply to the J-1 program:

1) If the J-1 receives funding from the U.S. government, home government or an international organization to use for the J-1 program.

2) If the J-1 worked or studied in a field that appears on the “J-1 exchange visitor skills list.” This is a list of fields of specialized knowledge and skills that are needed in the J-1’s country of last permanent residence for its development. Some countries such as Canada, Australia and Germany do not have a skill’s list. However, China, India and South Korea  have many skills on the list.

3) If the J-1 participated in a graduate medical training program in the United States under the sponsorship of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

Two-year home requirement is often indicated on both the visa and DS-2019 form whether one will be subject to this requirement. However, this only serves as an initial determination.

If you are not sure whether you should be subject to the 2-year home residency requirement contact your adviser OR request an official “advisory opinion” from the U.S. Department of State. This advisory opinion is a formal determination whether or not you are subject to the 2-year home residency requirement.

It is important to know that people can be subjected to the two-year home residency requirement multiple times. For example, a student from China who comes to the US as a J-1 Student and then returns as a J-1 Scholar will be subjected to this requirement twice. Even though one can be subjected on multiple occasions, one can serve out the multiple requirements concurrently. The Chinese Student/Scholar only needs to spend two years in China after the J-1 last program to meet the requirements. If he or she elected to apply for a waiver, however, a waiver for each individual program will be needed.

Can the requirement be waived?

If you received funding from your home government or an international organization, or are subject based on the skill’s list, it is often possible to get a waiver by requesting a “letter of no objection” from your home country’s embassy in Washington, DC. However, if you received U.S. government funding (such as a Fulbright) it is nearly impossible to get this requirement waived.

Please refer to US Department of State for the details of waiver  of the Exchange visitor two-year home requirement.  J-1 waiver applications have to be submitted directly by alien to the U.S. government.

To start the waiver process you should first talk to your OIA adviser because the timing can be critical. If you start the waiver process too early, you won’t be able to travel in and out of the U.S. as a J-1, get an extension (including for Academic Training), and you may not be able to transfer your J-1 program.

Obtaining J-1 waiver is necessary to secure approval of the H-1B petition.

Overstaying J-1, Work and Travel Visa

Individuals who have overstayed their J-1 visa can adjust their status if they have U.S. Citizen immediate family members who can file Petition for Alien Relative on their behalf otherwise they are subject to inadmissibility bars. One can pursue a J-1 waiver while out of status.

   Inadmissibility as a consequence of overstaying a Visa

The Three Year Bar: Persons who remain in the US after their authorized stay has expired for more than 180 days but less than one year, and who leave the US prior to the institution of removal proceedings, are barred from reentering the US for three years from their date of departure.

The Ten Year Bar: Persons who remain in the US after their authorized stay has expired for more than one year, and who leave the US prior to the institution of removal proceedings, are barred from reentering the US for ten years from their date of departure.

Bar to Change of Status and Extension of Stay as a consequence of overstaying a Visa

Persons who remain in the US after their authorized period of stay are not able to extend their stay in the US or change their status to another nonimmigrant status. In most cases they are also barred from adjusting their status from that of a non-immigrant to that of an immigrant.



Q:  My J-1 visa is expired, but DS- 2019 valid. I will get married to a permanent resident who will file an I-130. Can I still work under J-1 status while waiting for the priority date becomes current? Can I extend my stay under J-1 if my DS- 2019 expired while waiting for the priority date? I am not subject to 2-year-home country.
A: Yes, you can remain in J-1 status. However, if your DS-2019 expires, you will probably not be able to extend your J-1 since your intent is clearly to remain permanently in the U.S.

Q: Is it possible to incorporate a C-corporation in the US while being on a J-1 visa?
A: Anyone can open a business, make contracts, buy property and so on presumed on meeting certain minimum conditions such as legal age and mental capacity, etc. However, employment requires specific visa status. J-1 status allows you to be in training or employment only with the DS-2019 or IAP-66 sponsor.

Q: I found my love in the U.S. and want to marry and stay in the U.S. What will happen to me if I overstay my visa?
A: In the interest of Family Unity, your unlawful presence could be waived and you can adjust status to permanent resident (green card). Your U.S. Citizen husband can file Petition for Alien Relative on your behalf so you can become a U.S. permanent resident.

Q: When does the J1 two-year home country residence (212e) count begins?
A: The 212e 2 year home residence count begins when you arrive in your home country.

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