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J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa


The J-1 exchange visitor visa allows persons to enter the United States and participate in an approved exchange program.

These programs can include the following types of individuals:

  • Students
  • Professors and research scholars
  • Short-term scholars
  • Trainees
  • Specialists
  • Foreign medical graduates
  • International and governmental visitors
  • Teachers
  • Camp counselors/au pairs


Processing Time

J-1 visa applications are decided by the consular officers abroad in less than 30 days.


J-1 visa duration varies depending on the specific program and can range from six months to seven years.

Permission to Work in the U.S.

Depending upon the type of program, some exchange visitors are allowed to work in the U.S. in furtherance of their program. All J-2 visa holders, dependent spouses, are permitted to apply for work authorization, providing it is not utilized to support the J-1 visitor.


Approved Program

The J-1 applicant must be coming to the U.S in order to participate in a program whose sponsor has been approved by the U.S. Information Agency.

Program Qualifications

The J-1 visa applicant must demonstrate that he/she is qualified to participate in the specific J-1 program. Each qualified program maintains separate criteria for qualification.

Nonimmigrant Intent

Each J-1 applicant must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the consular officer that he or she intends to return to the country of residence upon conclusion of the authorized J-1 visitor stay.



  • They must be participating in a structured training program.
  • The stay is limited to 18 months.
  • The exchange visitor must not be recruited to fill a position resulting in the displacement of a full-time or part-time U.S. employee.
  • Employment is limited to on-the-job training rather than gainful employment.
  • The sponsor must disclose fees and costs, estimated living expenses, and a summary of training objectives.

College Students

  • The J-1 student must be engaged in a full-time course of study.
  • The J-1 student must demonstrate adequate financial resources to conduct and participate in the educational program.

Professors and Research Scholars

  • They must be in a temporary appointment.
  • They must work only at the authorized institution(s).

Short-Term Scholars

  • Their stay is limited to six months with no extensions.

Medical Graduates

  • The school should be accredited by the Secretary of Education.
  • The physician is a graduate of an accredited medical school, and the sponsoring medical school assumes responsibility for medical training.
  • The physician makes a commitment to return to his or her country of residence for a period of two years immediately following the conclusion of the specific medical skills in that country.
  • The physician's home country certifies that there is a need for the specific medical skills in that country.
  • The stay is limited to a maximum period of seven years.


  • Applicants must be qualified to teach primary or secondary school in their home country.
  • Applicants must possess at least three years of experience.
  • Applicants must have good moral character.
  • Applicants must be coming to teach full-time.
  • The stay is limited to the length of the program, not exceeding three years.

Secondary School Students

  • Students must be coming to participate in a full course of study.
  • The study period must be at least one, but no more than two academic semesters.
  • Employment is not permitted other than occasional babysitting or yard work.

Au Pairs

  • The applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 26 years old.
  • The applicants must be from a country that maintains current diplomatic relations with the U.S.
  • The applicants must be high school graduates.
  • The applicants must be proficient in English.
  • The applicant can provide no more than 45 hours of childcare per week or 10 hours of childcare in any given day.
  • The stay is limited to one year.
  • The applicant is required to enroll in a secondary school for at least six semester hours.

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