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J-1 Visas: Opening Opportunities for Work and Study-Based Exchanges

The J nonimmigrant visa category, also known as the Exchange Visitor Program, is designed to authorize individuals for participation in exchange programs that involve both work and study. Moreover, this program annually offers about 300,000 foreign visitors from over 200 countries and territories the chance to immerse themselves in U.S. culture and society, as well as to interact with American citizens.

Common Questions And Answers About J-1 Visas

Who is eligible to apply for a J-1 visa?

J-1 visas are nonimmigrant visas issued by the United States to research scholars, professors, and exchange visitors. The design of the J-1 visa is to promote cultural exchange by allowing the visa holders to obtain medical and/or business training within the United States.

What are the criteria for a J-1 visa? 

Applicants must be sponsored by a university, private sector company or government program.

Can I stay in the United States after my J-1 visa expires?

There is a 30-day grace period for individuals to stay in the United States after their exchange program ends.

What if I want to change my status after having been on a J-1 visa? Do I need to leave the United States?

Pursuant to Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, some J-1 visa holders have a requirement that he or she goes back to their home country for 2 years. This is also known as, the 2-year home country physical presence requirement. Therefore, for J-1’s with the two-year home presence requirement, it is not possible to apply for a change of status or for a green card until the home country residency requirement is fulfilled or a waiver is received.

Can you waive the two-year mandatory home-country physical presence requirement?

Yes, waiving the two-year home-country stay can be completed if you meet one of the five bases for Recommendation of a Waiver:
1) You have been issued a No Objection Statement (NOS) by the J-visa holder’s home country;
2) Your departure from the United States would cause exceptional hardship to your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child;
3) You would suffer persecution based on race, religion, or political opinion if you return to your home country;
4) An interested government agency has determined that the J-1 person is working for the agency’s interest and their departure would be detrimental to its interest; or
5) There has been a request by a designated State Public Health Department (Conrad State 30 Program), in which a foreign medical graduate has an offer for a full-time employment in a health care facility designated in a health care professional shortage area.

We Can Answer Your Immigration Law Questions

At Fok Immigration Law, our California immigration attorneys have the experience you need to navigate the complex visa process. Call our San Jose office at 408-606-8911, or contact us online.