J-1 Exchange Visitor

The J-1 is a non-immigrant visa classification for exchange visitors aimed at promoting mutual understanding between the U.S. and nationals of other countries through educational and cultural exchanges.  J-1 applicants can enter the U.S. to study, teach, impart special skills, or receive training.  J-1 classification is available in the following categories:

  • Au Pair
  • Camp Counselor
  • College and University Student
  • Government Visitor
  • Intern
  • International Visitor
  • Physician
  • Professor and Research Scholar
  • Secondary School Student
  • Short-term Scholar
  • Specialist
  • Summer Work Travel
  • Teacher
  • Trainee

J-1 Program Sponsor

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is administered through a J-1 Program Sponsor who has been designated by the U.S. government to sponsor and facilitate the international exchange between the J-1 applicant and host.  The J-1 Program Sponsor is responsible for selecting and screening the applicant and host through an application process, as well as ensuring all parties are in compliance with program requirements.  Upon approval of the application, the J-1 program sponsor will issue Form DS-2019, “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status” to the J-1 applicant which then allows the applicant to seek an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate to obtain a J-1 visa.


  • Au Pair: 12 months, with possible 6, 9, or 12 months extension
  • Camp Counselor: 4 months
  • College and University Student: Duration of studies, including practical training (18 months for Bachelor’s/Master’s programs, 24 months for non-degrees, and 36 months for Post-Doctoral students)
  • Government Visitor: 18 months
  • Intern: 12 months
  • International Visitor: 12 months
  • Physician: Duration of residency program.  Maximum of 7 years
  • Professor and Research Scholar: Maximum of 5 years
  • Secondary School Student: 12 months
  • Short-term Scholar: 6 months
  • Specialist: 12 months
  • Summer Work Travel: 4 months
  • Teacher: 3 years
  • Trainee: 18 months


Dependents, including spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old, are eligible for derivative J-2 status (Exception:  Dependents of au pairs, camp counselors, secondary school students, and summer work travel participants).  Spouses are eligible to apply for work authorization, as long as their income is not used to support the principal J-1 holder.

Two Year Home Residence Requirement

CertainJ-1 applicants may be subject to a two-year home residence requirement where they are required to fulfill a two year physical presence requirement in their home country upon completion of the J-1 program.  Those subject to the two-year residence requirement include the following:

  • Applicants who have received funding from the U.S. or home government
  • Applicants whose home country and field of work is identified as being in short supply and listed on the “Exchange Visitor’s Skills List.”
  • Applicants who have received graduate medical education or training on a J-1 sponsored by the Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG.)

In order to obtain a waiver of the home residence requirement, the J-1 applicant must be able to show the following:

  • Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child of the J-1 holder if required to return to the home country;
  • Persecution on account of race, religion, or political opinions if J-1 holder returns to home country;
  • Request from an U.S. Government Agency with an interest in having J-1 holder remain in the U.S.;
  • No Objection Statement from J-1 holder’s home country; or,
  • Request from a designated State Health Department or similar organization.


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