A J-1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa for people visiting the USA for short-term work, training, or student/scholar programs. There are several categories within the J-1 visa USA that are meant for studies and jobs. With a J-1 visa program, you can enrol in a short-term study program and get professional training as well.
What is a J-1 Visa? What are the J-1 visa rules? How do you apply for the J-1 visa?
If you are looking for answers to questions like these, you are at the right place, as we have gathered all the information related to the J-1 visa, including the J-1 visa application process, J-1 visa program categories, J-1 visa program extension, and much more.
J-1 Visa Categories
The J-1 visa program includes 13 different categories. A few of the major categories are explained below.
- Short-Term Scholar: Research scholars can teach at US universities for six months along with their studies.
- Internship: Recent graduates can work for a short period of time.
- Campus Counselor: All those who are above 18 years of age can work with the local youth at the US summer camps as camp teachers.
- Au Pair: Individuals who are 18-26 years old can live and Study in the USA with a sponsored family for up to two years, along with providing childcare to the sponsor family.
- Work and Travel: Full-time students enrolled in a post-secondary school can work and travel during the summer, winter and spring breaks.
- International Visitor Program: The US Department of State chooses international visitors to observe, research, consult, and train with the US colleges.
Can You Work in the US with a J-1 Visa?
With a J-1 visa in the United States, you can work, but it is subject to certain conditions. Your employment should be directly related to the objectives of your J-1 visa program and authorised by your program sponsor, who issued your DS-2019 form. On-campus part-time employment (up to 20 hours per week during the academic year) and full-time work during semester breaks may be allowed. If you are interested in off-campus employment or internships not tied to your program, you might need additional work authorisation. It is crucial to follow the regulations of your J-1 student visa, as unauthorised employment can lead to serious consequences, including visa revocation and deportation. Consulting your program sponsor or an immigration attorney for specific guidance is advisable to ensure compliance.
What Is the Difference Between a J-1 and F-1 Student Visa?
Both F-1 and J-1 student visas are the types of student visas to study in the USA. However, there is a considerable difference between them, and it is thus essential to learn about both of them in detail. The process to apply for J-1 visas, J-1 visa rules, etc., are different from F-1 visas. As such, we have outlined the key differences between them in the table below.
Source of Funding
51% of funding should be external in the form of scholarships & grants. The rest can be through family or personal
Any kind of funding is approved
Maximum 20 hours, & requires prior authorisation
Maximum 20 hours, but no prior authorisation is needed
Spouses and Children
They can apply for work permits & can study full-time or part-time
They should change their visa status to be eligible for work and full-time study
Can apply for Academic Training for upto 18-36 months without a fee
Can apply for OPT for upto 12 months with a fee
Required at least for a minimum amount
Optional but recommended
What Are the J-1 Visa Program Requirements?
Before you proceed with the J-1 visa application process, you should ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria. We have explained the general requirements below. It is also a good idea to visit the official website to get updated information.
- English proficiency: Almost all US universities ask for a good English proficiency test score. As such, it is better to take any of the popular tests like IELTS or TOEFL and score an acceptable grade.
- Take medical insurance: You are required to have a medical insurance cover as prescribed by the university.
- Meet the requirements for the Home Residency Program: You are required to return to your home country and stay there for at least two years.
- Work restrictions: You are allowed to work only 20 hours per week during the semester and for unlimited hours during the semester breaks.
- Funding: At least 50 per cent of the course funding should be provided through an accredited sponsor who is not a family member or personal friend.
- A valid passport: You should have a valid passport, the expiry date of which should be at least six months after your course completion.
- Course completion: You are expected to complete the course by attending full-time.
- Address update: If you change your residence, you are expected to update the new address at the university and also with the sponsor.
How Do You Submit a J-1 Visa Application?
The process to apply for J-1 visas is explained below. You can also refer to the official website for updated information on the process.
- Identify and decide on a sponsor: You should be sponsored by someone who is not your family member or personal friend.
- Submit the DS-2019 form: You should have a DS-2019 form issued by your designated sponsor that acts as the Certificate of Eligibility for the J-1 visa.
- Pay the fee: You are required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). You will have to pay other additional fees, including the non-immigrant visa processing fee.
- Schedule the visa interview: You have to attend an in-person interview at a local US Consulate or Embassy.
- Attend the interview: You should attend the interview at the given slot at the said time.
How Much Does a J-1 Visa Cost?
There can be changes in the J-1 visa fees depending on the length of your stay and your country of residence. However, the general J-1 visa rules apply in all cases, and you will have to pay USD 160 as the visa application processing fee and USD 220 as the I-901 SEVIS fee.
How Long Can I Stay With a J-1 Visa?
The duration of your stay in the USA with the J-1 visa varies depending on the J-1 visa category you choose. However, the most common category, Exchange Visitors, can stay in the USA for up to five years and another 30 days to prepare to leave the country. This J-1 visa category includes research scholars, professors, teachers, or people with specialised skills.
J-1 Visa Extension
The responsible officer has the discretion to extend your J-1 visa depending on the category you have chosen. In case of a J-1 visa program extension, you will have to submit a new Form DS-2019 reflecting this extension. If the extension is beyond the maximum program duration for exceptional or unusual circumstances, you will require approval from the Department of State. You will additionally need to pay USD 367 to the US Department of State.
What Is the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement?
The Two-Year Home Residency requirement (or 212(e)) means that as a J-1 visa holder who came to the USA, you cannot become a permanent resident of the country, change your status in the US or get a work or family-based visa status such as H, L or K until you return to your home country for at least two years cumulatively.
How to Apply for a Waiver Request for the Two-Year Residency?
In some cases, you might be able to apply for a waiver request for the Two-Year Residency or Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. A waiver can be requested under any of the following five cases.
- A claim of Exceptional Hardship to a US citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or child of the exchange visitor if he/she is required to return to the home country.
- A claim that the J-1 visa holder will be persecuted due to religious, political or racial opinions if he/she returns to the home country.
- A request from an interested US Government agency on behalf of the participant.
- A No Objection Statement from the government.
- A request by a designated State Health Department or equivalent.a
We hope that you have gathered enough information related to the J-1 visa, including the J-1 visa rules, the J-1 visa program extension, and much more. If you have any further questions or queries, you can contact AECC. We have trained professionals to help you throughout the processes involved in applying to study abroad. You will get one-to-one assistance on everything from university applications to visa guidance. Do not hesitate to contact us for FREE assistance!