A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States to exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange, especially to obtain medical or business training within the U.S. All applicants must meet eligibility criteria and be sponsored either by a private sector or government program.
Duration of Status
J-1 visitors may remain in the United States until the end of their exchange program, as specified on form DS-2019. Once a J-1 visitor's program ends, he or she may remain in the United States for an additional 30 day, often referred to as a "grace period", in order to prepare for departure from the country.
The minimum and maximum duration of stay are determined by the specific J-1 category that an exchange visitor is admitted into the United States under.
As with other non-immigrant visas, at the end of the duration of stay, J-1 visa holders, along with their dependents, are required to leave the United States.
Mandatory home residence requirement
Upon their departure from the USA, many J visa holders are required to complete a mandatory two-year home-country physical presence prior to reentry to the United States under dual-intent visas, such as H1-B. These include those involved in government-funded exchange programs, those who pursued graduate-level education or training, and those with specialized knowledge or skills. This mandatory two-year home-country stay can be waived under the following conditions:
No objection statement (NOS) issued by the government of the home country of the J visa holders.
Exceptional Hardship: If a J-1 holder can demonstrate that his or her departure would cause exceptional hardship to his or her U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident dependents.
Persecution: If a J-1 holder can demonstrate that he or she can be persecuted in his or her home country.
Interested Government Agency: A waiver issued for a J-1 holder by a U.S. Federal Government agency that has determined that such person is working on a project for or of its interest and the person's departure will be detrimental to its interest.
Conrad Program: A waiver issued for a foreign medical graduate who has an offer of full-time employment at a health care facility in a designated health care professional shortage area or at a health care facility which serves patients from such a designated area.
Electronic records on J-1 visitors and their dependents are maintained in SEVIS by their program sponsor. J-1 visitors must report certain information, such as a change in legal name or a change of address, within 10 days. Failure to report this information is considered a violation of the J-1 visitor's immigration status and may result in the termination of his or her exchange program.
Different categories exist within the J-1 program, each defining the purpose or type of exchange. While most J-1 categories are explicitly named in the federal regulations governing the J-1 program, others have been inferred from the regulatory language.
Private sector programs:
Au Pair and EduCare
Camp Counselor [Summer camp]
Student, Secondary School
Flight Training (J-1 privileges to be terminated effective June 1, 2010)
Government and academic programs:
Professor and Research Scholar
Taxation of income earned by J-1 visitors varies according to the specific category the visitors was admitted under; the visitor's country of origin; and the duration of the visitor's stay in the United States. J-1 visitors whose governments have a tax treaty with the United States may be exempt Social Security and Medicare taxes for up to five years. J-1 researchers may be exempt for up to 18 months.