Among the ways to enter the United States legally, the J1 visa is a popular one among researchers and academics. While there is scrutiny on this visa application just like every other form of application, it is a viable route for many people to utilize. In fact, around 350,000 J1 visas were granted in 2017 to a wide range of people from different countries with different skill sets and interests. There are a few important things to note about this type of non-immigrant visa.
First and foremost, you must be sponsored by a program. Whether it is a school, an institution, the government or even a company, you must have a US based organization act as your sponsor. This institution will complete a form confirming that they will sponsor you for the J1 along with the purpose of this sponsorship.
The visa lasts the entire length of the program of study or research with an additional 30 day grace period. That means visiting scholars teaching from September to June can stay until July. Physicians on short rotations get the same privilege. The exact dates of the program must be stated in the application and in the sponsorship documents.
Those that enter on a J1 Visa cannot easily switch to a traditional immigrant visa. In fact, there is a home residency requirement of 2 years. Meaning, they must return home for two years in between a J1 visa and an immigrant visa. On the other hand, there are a few ways this may be waived.
The J1 visa was originally created to allow scholars, researchers, academics and others to come to the US to exchange information and pursue study. Since it was introduced in 1961 as part of the Exchange Visitor Visa Program, the scope and purpose has expanded quite significantly.
Each applicant must meet the background requirements for their specific category which are different for each area. Of course, you need the adequate academic credentials, work credentials and other certifications that demonstrate your capability to meet the specified goals of your sponsors program. On this point, it could become a little subjective. For that reason, appropriate legal counsel is helpful in providing the most coherent and comprehensive submission as possible.
Of course, to obtain a J1 Visa, you are required to produce a large amount of documents to prove your status and to get through the requirements. There is a tight bureaucracy around these documents so it is important to get them all right. Ideally, a trained legal professor should look at each document you provide and sign-off on it before you submit it to the government.
- DS-160 form which is the formal application
- DS-2019 form which is The Certificate of Eligibility from the sponsor of the program or institution that you will be working with
- Any supporting documents that are country and job specific
- A valid passport, that does not expire within the next six months
- $180 Fee for the I-901 SEVIS and receipt of payment confirmation
- A recent 2″×2″ color photo in the same format as the passport
All J-1 applicants must fit into a certain category either in the public or private sector. The categories are as follows:
- Au pair
- Camp Counselor for Summer Camp
- High School Student
- Research Work
- Public or Non-Private Sector
- Temporary Scholar
- College Student
- Official Government Visitor
- Official International Visitor
- Professor or Research Scholar
Overall, the J1 is a fairly popular way to enter the US to pursue a specific research or work purpose. This temporary non-immigrant visa will continue to allow many foreigners to enter the US. To maximize your chances of success though, you should ideally use top legal counsel. If you have questions about obtaining your J1 Visa, please call our office to speak with an attorney.