J-1 Visa – Work and Learn in America

On Behalf of | Apr 28, 2022 | Immigration Explained

What is a J-1 Visa?

A J-1 is a type of nonimmigrant visa that allows someone to come to the United States to work, participate in training/education programs. It is intended to promote cultural exchange between the United States and other countries.

What kinds of jobs or programs can I participate in?

There are many programs available; here are a few examples. Medical and business training/education programs are popular. Teachers and professors from other countries come on this visa. Young people who come to the U.S. as an Au Pair or as camp counselors also use J-1 Visas. See the Department of State Website for a complete list.

How long does it last? Can I extend it?

The duration of stay is specified on the DS 2019 Form. You are eligible to remain in the USA up to 30 days after the end of your program. Programs can last anywhere from a few months to several years. The maximum is 8 years, usually for medical students. Yes, you can extend your J-1 Visa.

Can I change my job/program with a J-1 Visa?

No. The J-1 Visa is program-specific. If you want to change your program, you would have to file a new application.

What is the home-country physical presence requirement?

Once you are done with your program, some types of programs require you to return to live in your home country for at least two years. The reason for this is that you are supposed to bring back what you learned in the USA for the benefit of your home country.

Is there a waiver for this home-country physical presence requirement?

Yes. There are five different ways that you can qualify for a waiver.

  1. Your home country can issue a No Objection Statement and waive the requirement
  2. If you are working for a U.S. Federal Government agency, or working on a project of interest to an agency, the agency can request a waiver.
  3. If you believe you will be persecuted in your home country.
  4. Exceptional hardship to your U.S. citizen or Green Card spouse or child
  5. Certain hospitals can request a waiver on your behalf if you are working there in an important role.

For more detailed information, see the State Department Website.

What is the difference between a F-1 and a J-1 Visa?

F-1 Visas are purely for students, and usually do not allow work. J-1 Visas are more flexible and can involve either work or study. They are for a specific position and a specific duration.

Can my family come with me?

Yes. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of a J-1 Visa holder qualify for a J-2 visa. Spouses can get a work permit. Children cannot get a work permit, but they can go to college, often at a reduced tuition.

Can I get a Green Card with a J-1 Visa?

Yes. You can adjust status with a family-based or employment-based visa.

If you think you may qualify for a J-1 Visa, or you have questions, contact our office!