101(a)(15)(J) the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990 ("Act"), Pub. L. No. 104-649, __ Stat. __,
8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(J).
8 C.F.R. 214.2(j)(1) (1998).

(c) 1999 VIKRAM BADRINATH, P.C. All rights reserved.


The J-1 Visa permits a foreign national to participate in a cultural exchange program regulated by the Department of State. The J-1 visitor must be coming to the United States to participate in the program for the purpose of giving or receiving training, or to teach, study, observe, conduct research, consult, or demonstrate special skills. J-1 visitors are required to return to their home country for two (2) years at the end of the exchange visit, unless a waiver of the requirement is granted. See Waivers

Dependents such as spouses or children who accompany the J-1 Visa visitor are eligible for the J-2 status. J-2 dependents may apply for employment authorization with the U.S. INS. See Employment Authorization Documents

In order to be eligible for J-1 visa status, the foreign national must be coming to participate in an exchange visitor sponsorship program which has been approved by the United States Information Agency ("USIA"). The sponsor must be a United States company, agency, non-profit foundation or organization (which also includes some United States’ universities). The foreign national may enter to participate in either the United States company’s approved program, or be sponsored by an affiliated program.

The J-1 Visa visitor must have sufficient knowledge of the English language to undertake the program, and sufficient funds to cover expenses.

The J-1 Visa visitor must maintain a residence in, and intend to return to his home country; J-1 Visa holders may not have an intent to reside permanently in the United States.


J-1 Visas are allowed to remain in the United States as determined by the type of program, and the length of the program as described in the sponsor’s application. The maximum period of stay set forth in the regulations is 18 months for trainees, six (6) months for short term scholars, three (3) years for research scholars and one (1) year for specialists. The duration of stay for post-secondary students is the amount of time needed to complete the degree plus 18 months practical (academic) training (36 months training for post-doctoral degrees). Extensions of stay within the maximum time period may be granted by the program sponsor. Extension of stay beyond the maximum time period permitted by the regulations may be granted by the USIA in special circumstances.

Application Procedure

The United States company must file an application for an approved program with the USIA or utilize another USIA-approved program sponsor that charges a fee for its sponsorship. Once the USIA approves the sponsor’s application, the sponsor can approve the foreign national’s participation by issuing a Certificate of Eligibility on Form IAP-66. The foreign national then applies for a J-1 visa stamp at the United States Embassy or Consulate in his or her home country. See Consular Processing.

For more information about J-1 Foreign Exchange Visitor/Student Visas, please contact us by email, telephone, or fax or schedule an appointment to have your individual case discussed and analyzed by an attorney.