J-1 Visa (Exchange Visitor)

The J-1 is nonimmigrant visa available for those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.

In carrying out the responsibilities of the Exchange Visitor Program, the Department of State designates public and private entities to act as exchange sponsors. J-1 nonimmigrants are therefore sponsored by an exchange program that is designated as such by the U.S. Department of State. These programs are designed to promote the interchange or persons, knowledge, and skills, in the fields of education, arts, and science.

Examples of exchange visitors include, but are not limited to:

  • Professors or scholars
  • Research assistants
  • Students
  • Trainees
  • Teachers
  • Specialists
  • Nannies/Au Pair Program
  • Camp counselors


  • Has sufficient funds to cover expenses for the trip and is fluent in English.
  • Maintains sufficient medical insurance for accidents and illnesses for themselves and any family members in the J-2 category.
  • Has a residence abroad that they have no intention of abandoning.


Some J-1 nonimmigrants enter the United States specifically to work (as a researcher, nanny, etc.) while others do not. Employment is authorized for J-1 nonimmigrants only under the terms of the exchange program.


J-1 status depends on the rules established by your particular Visitor Exchange Program. To determine the duration of your program, review your IAP-66 or Certificate of Eligibility. You may be eligible to extend your stay under the J-1 Visa if your total stay period does not exceed the maximum duration of stay for the program and your program sponsor agrees to your extension.


Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, are entitled to J-2 classification. Your spouse and children are entitled to work authorization; however, their income may not be used to support you.

J-1 Waivers:

Exchange visitors who are subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), may be able to waive this requirement if they meet certain conditions. J-1 holders can also apply for the green card at the same time while applying for J-1 waiver.