J-1 Exchange Visitor’s Visa

J-1 Visa Attorneys in Skokie

Helping Exchange Visitors Obtain Visas

The J-1 visa is for those who intend to engage in an approved program in the U.S. to teach, lecture, study, observe, conduct research, receive training, or receive graduate medical education.

Examples of candidates for the J-1 visa include:

  • Students at all academic levels
  • Trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and agencies
  • Teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools
  • Professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning
  • Research scholars
  • Professional trainees in the medical and allied fields (alien physicians)
  • Au pairs and summer camp counselors

Gambacorta Law can help you navigate the application process. Our J-1 visa attorneys in Skokie are familiar with the requirements you need to meet and the steps you need to take to be successful.

Call or firm at (847) 443-9303 or contact us online to request an initial consultation.

Types of J-1 Visas

It is important to note that there are two types of J-1 visas:

  • J-1 visas that do not have a restriction known as ‘Home Residency Requirement’ (HRR)
  • J-1 visas that have the HRR restriction

The odd aspect of the J-1 visa is that the sponsor must obtain a designation from the Department of State as an Exchange-Visitor Program and be assigned a program number. The exchange visitor must also maintain a foreign residence and must not have any intention of abandoning their residence.

In addition, you must prove that you have:

  • Plans to remain the United States for a temporary, specific, limited period
  • Funds to cover expenses while you’re in the U.S
  • Compelling social and economic ties abroad
  • Other binding ties that will ensure your return abroad after your visit

Applying for a J-1 Visa

J-1 visa applicants should apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, generally in their country of permanent residence. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate is required for visa applicants between the ages of 14 and 79, with few exceptions. Anyone under the age of 13 or over the age of 80 will likely not need to conduct an interview unless requested by the embassy or consulate. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa application is strongly encouraged.

If you are authorized by your sponsor to be accompanied by your spouse and children, they will also be given a Form DS-2019 and can apply at the same time.

During the visa application process, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be quickly taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer.

AJ-1 visa is generally issued within 30 days from the day the application is submitted. Depending upon the backlog at the American Consulate where you have submitted the application, it may take up to 60 days.

If you get the visa, you can enter the United States pursuant to J-1 status. Your status in the United States is “Duration of Stay” (“D/S”), meaning you can remain in the country as long as the program is ongoing.

Durations of stay vary depending on your purpose for traveling to the U.S.:

  • Students (secondary school students) may be granted D/S for a period of one year
  • Teachers (primary and secondary school teachers) may be granted D/S for a period of three years
  • Short-term scholars may be granted D/S for a period of six months
  • Foreign medical graduates (foreign doctors) may be granted D/S for the length of their program up to seven years
  • Trainees and interns may be granted D/S for a period of 12 to 18 months
  • Specialists may be granted D/S for a period of one year
  • Camp counselors may be granted D/S for a period of four months
  • Government visitors may be granted D/S for a period of 18 months.

The duration of stay for each category may be extended as long as an adequate justification is given.

J-1 Visa Benefits & Drawbacks

The J-1 visa certainly has its benefits.

With this status, you can:

  • Enter the U.S. and participate in an exchange visitor program approved by the U.S. Department of State
  • Travel in and out of the U.S. or remain in the U.S. continuously till the completion of your exchange visitor program
  • Apply for dependent visas for your spouse as well as unmarried dependent children under age 21
  • Work legally in the U.S. if work is part of your approved program or if you receive permission to work from the official program sponsor
  • Apply for and receive work permits for accompanying relatives.

On the other hand, the J-1 visa has its drawbacks as well. You restrict yourself to studying, working, or otherwise participating in the special exchange program for which your visa has been approved. Another limitation is that you must be accepted as a participant in the program approved by the DOS before you apply for a J-1 visa.

Perhaps the biggest drawback is the fact that you may be required to return to your home country for at least two years before you can get a green card or change to another nonimmigrant visa status. You may, however, be able to avoid the two-year home residency requirement by obtaining a waiver.

Home Residency Waivers

If you wish to get a green card or a different nonimmigrant visa after your J-1 visa has expired, you may be able to avoid the two-year home residency requirement with a waiver.

Your options include:

  • No-interest waiver: This is granted based on a statement to the Department of State from the J-1 Visa holder’s government of nationality or last foreign residence that does not object to a waiver of the foreign residence requirement applicable to the exchange visitor. Physicians who have received medical education or training under the J-1 program are not qualified for this waiver. This waiver is most widely used by non-physicians.
  • Interested government agency waiver: This is granted upon the request of an Interested Government Agency (IGA). An IGA waiver must be submitted to the Department of State by a U.S government agency saying that it believed that the exchange visitor’s departure from the U.S would be detrimental to an activity of official interest to the agency.
  • Hardship to family member(s) waiver: This applies to a U.S citizen, spouse, or child of an exchange visitor. You may obtain this waiver if you can demonstrate that your departure from the U.S would cause extreme hardship to your U.S citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child.
  • Persecution hardship: If you believe that you will be persecuted upon the return to your home country due to race, religion, or political opinion, then you may apply for a waiver.

Consult an Immigration Lawyer about J-1 Exchange Visitor Visas

At Gambacorta Law, we are passionate about helping foreign nationals achieve their immigration goals. Our J-1 visa attorneys in Skokie represent people from every corner of the world and are ready to help you with your visa application.

Click here to find out more information.

Call us at (847) 443-9303 now to get started.


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